However…QT did not invent the issues of sexism and the patriarchal protagonist; QT did not conjure up the image of the violent male in film; QT, moreover, did not invent the word nigger; what QT does do is to capitalize and build a story off of those surrounding matters. Wrong? Yes and no. Those issues are confounding and a reality for sure. Genius? Maybe. What Django does is a tell a story within those violent male confines which have traditionally been reserved for White men, and give a heroic placement to a Black male (played by Jaime Foxx).
Now, let me say, second, that I loved the film. The discourse and dialog is rich and rings true to how many White’s still feel regarding Blacks (minus a few “nigger” this and “nigger” that). I found Robert Richardson’s (Shutter Island, Kill Bill, Inglorious Basterds) cinematography to be amazing as usual. QT’s masterful art of composing dialogue scenes which invoke the use of great non-verbal discourse and connotative meaning were stellar. The film is a spaghetti western and utilizes all the traits of a patriarchal male hero subject which rescues his loved, lost, wife in the end while exacting retribution and revenge on those who caused him maltreatment. For QT, the victims in his films are the ones who get the most revenge. In a film genre thematic sense, what is the problem with that? Spielberg does it. Lucas does it. Scorsese has continually done it. Where is the social outcry with them? Why can’t Django do what Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Bronson, and the many other White male protagonists who avenge their loved ones by killing the “bad guy” while “saving” the woman have done?
Here is the bottom line for me, yes, the violence is an issue. Yes, the continual use of the word nigger is an issue. Yes, the film is fiction. And yes, the male, once again, has to “save” a “helpless” woman. But that is Hollywood film; love it or hate it, it is what it is and yes, there are problems within those areas which I and many others continue to confront. But if we take Django for what it is, in its genre, then it is right on and QT does a spectacular job of placing Foxx’s character as the hero and do what many Blacks wish would have happened during this horrific time in the history of the U.S.
Moreover, QT tackles the reality that there were hot boxes on plantations, Black men were castrated on plantations, on many occassions runaway slaves were savishly torn apart by dogs, slavers in the South did call Blacks nigger…copiously, violence was like breathing in the West during this period against ethnic minorities, Blacks were seen as inferior and submissive, and the 400 years of inhumanity done to Blacks was not just atrocious but has continually been overlooked in Hollywood film by many White film makers. QT takes on a film that not only places a Black male in a standardized male role, but makes him intelligent, witty, and a hero.One film critic in particular from NPR, Milos Stehlik, stated he had a problem with QT having Django “kill White men for pay.” The critic railed on QT for that and wondered “What message is being sent” by those actions. Really? What “message” is being sent? Were you worried about what “message” was being sent when Blacks were hunted down in films like Cold Mountain? Were you worried about “messages” being sent out when Blacks are hung like animals in the film Rosewood? Seems a bit too convenient for me. This is the frustratingly continual worldview path from many neo-liberal White critics when all of a sudden those seemingly “liberal” critics want to chime in from their generous and righteous moralism to protest and voice outrage.
In the end, we have some major problems within our media regarding race, gender, and class. QT’s film Django, however, works within those paradigms, gives us a contextualized hero, posits him in a heroic light while doing it QT style and still addresses America’s bloody past in slavery. Is it pretty? No. Does it continue on the continuum of Hollywood male heroes? Yes. And does so by vindicating—at the very least within the fictional narrative—the relentless abuse slavery had on Blacks in this country.
Again, I loved the film. It did a spectacular job of integrating third dimensional rhetoric into the script; in other words, much of the context within the language are still present today in White Black relations (e.g. the thought of Blacks as inferior, lazy, submissive; White’s as landowners and Blacks who are the ‘help’; house niggas & the comfort of the Black elite). The narrative is about empowerment of Blacks and the power to take back what was lost; that, is powerful. And in a time when many Black roles are comic relief and submissive to the dominant strucutre, that is large. Django will remain a solid film within the confines of how Hollywood defines a male hero. It brings to the table a “new sheriff” in town, of sorts, and gives the audience much to think about as it relates to slavery and the violent past that is the make of these United States.
Check out Joseph Boston's thoughts on Django: Django: Black Jesus Unchained
Read Aisha Harris' piece on the film: Conservatives Freak Out About Django
Gee Joyner has an excellent posit on Django too: That Damn Django!
Django's Press Release: