Quentin Tarantino is an anti-black racist. Is DJANGO UNCHAINED racist? Is Quentin Tarantino racist? DJANGO UNCHAINED is a work of anti-black racism. Race Analysis. Representation of Race. Quentin Tarantino and Race. Quentin Tarantino and Racism. Django Unchained and Racism. Django Unchained Race Controversy. Django Unchained Racist Controversy

A review of Django Unchained by Dr. Joseph Suglia

Quentin Tarantino is a slobbering anti-black racist who makes Blaxploitation films for hipsters.  These hipsters grow aggressively defensive whenever African-Americans stand up and denounce these very films.  (Roxane Gay, Spike Lee, Katt Williams, and Armond White are only a few of the African-Americans who have spoken out against Tarantino’s racism.)  Tarantino wishes to prove to his hipster fan base that he knows African-American culture better than African-Americans know their own culture.  And his hipster fanboys also desire that feeling — the feeling that they understand African-Americans better than African-Americans understand themselves.  (For an analysis of the mind of the hipster, consult Norman Mailer’s essay on this topic.)

Tarantino’s latest abomination is Django Unchained (2012), a film about a murderer-for-hire named Dr. King Schultz (Christopher Waltz) who enlists an African slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) to assist him in his mass-murdering spree.  Their journey ends at Candyland, a plantation owned by the oleaginous Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio, in an amusing and impressive performance that elevates above the film and never quite descends into camp).  There is much to demur to, but I will restrict myself to three demurrals: 1.) The film is an agglomeration of plagiarisms. 2.) The film is crypto-racist garbage. 3.) The screen violence is without passion or meaning.

DJANGO UNCHAINED IS AN AGGLOMERATION OF PLAGIARISMS

Django Unchained is a pastiche of Spaghetti Westerns.  The opening song was lifted directly from the English-language version of Django (1966).  On the soundtrack is a well-known composition from Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack for Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970) – an American Spaghetti Western, if there ever was one.  There is also an appearance by Franco Nero, star of the original Django, which is a pointless, meaningless cinematic reference that adds nothing whatsoever to the film, which is itself a pointless, meaningless accumulation of cinematic references.

The references are smarmily, unctuously obvious.  One thinks of the scene in which Schultz recounts to Django the basics of Das Nibelungenlied.  If Tarantino were an artist, he wouldn’t have spelled out the legend of Siegfried and Brunhilda for the benefit of his illiterate spectatorship.

Not merely does the film contain a cluster of plagiarisms; it itself is a plagiarism.  The film is an unacknowledged remake of the Mandingo films of the 1970s — in particular, Mandingo (1975) and its sequel, Drum (1976).  Tarantino steals from these sources to such a degree that his film would have been better entitled Mandingo Unchained.

Calvin Candie is clearly modeled on two characters in Drum: DeMarigny (John Colicos), connoisseur of Mandingo fights, and Warren Oates’ character Hammond, slave-owner and breeder of Mandingos.  Both characters were spliced together to create the hybrid Calvin Candie, lover of intra-racial violence.

The Mandingo-fight scene [1:05] owes everything to the original Mandingo film, although different body parts are excised.  In Django Unchained, an eye is enucleated.  In Mandingo, a jugular vein is torn out.

Quentin Tarantino isn’t very much different from Calvin Candie.  After all, they both enjoy watching Mandingo fighting.

DJANGO UNCHAINED IS CRYPTO-RACIST TRASH

On the surface, Django Unchained seems to be directed against white anti-black racism.  But it is itself a work of white anti-black racism.

Now, I like revenge fantasies as much as the next person, but there is something more sordid, more sinister going on here than what goes on in most revenge fantasies (“You got me!  Now I gonna get you, sucka!”).  Like its predecessor, Inglourious Basterds (2009), Django Unchained is a work of genocide pornography, the cruelest, most unconscionably vicious form of pornography in existence.  The crude plot of Inglourious Basterds trivializes the Holocaust; the crude plot of Django Unchained trivializes the enslavement of Africans in antebellum America.

But Django Unchained does more than merely trivialize the enslavement of Africans in nineteenth-century America.  It turns the enslavement of Africans into an object of consumption, an object of enjoyment.

To call this film “ahistorical” would be a gross understatement.  The film approximates history as closely as Spongebob Squarepants approximates marine biology.  With one important qualification: The creator of Spongebob Squarepants actually knows a great deal about marine biology, even if he chooses not to exhibit this knowledge in the television program that he spawned.  This film bears no relation to history whatsoever.  It is a bombinating vacuum in which references from exploitation films resonate.

No one in the nineteenth century ever said, “Adult supervision is required.”  Nor did anyone ever use the term “***********************************.”

Slaves could not read, but Django does a pretty good job of reading aloud the text of a Wanted poster [0:57].  He doesn’t know the words “bounty,” “valet,” or “positive,” but he does know the words “antagonize” and “intrigue.” As Katt Williams pointed out, it is odd that Django can spell his own name.

The late populist film critic Roger Ebert used the term deus ex machina (“God-out-of-the-machine”) to describe the entry of Schultz in the opening of the film.  That moment isn’t quite a deus ex machina — such a device is commonly used at the end of a work, such as when Helios transports Medea on a golden chariot at the end of Euripides’ tragedy.

However, Ebert was correct to call Schultz a “god.”  He just didn’t know the extent to which he was correct.

Schultz is a god, all right.  He is the white god who creates the black Django.  “I feel vaguely responsible for you,” he says to Django.  “I gave you your freedom.”

Yes, it is Schultz who grants Django his liberty.  The first time we see Django’s face is when Schultz shines light on him.  It is Schultz who transforms Django into a murderer-for-hire.  It is Schultz who sculpts Django into a full human being.

Django is not allowed to kill Calvin Candie.  Only the Good White Master is allowed to kill the Evil White Master.  Django is allowed to kill Candie’s minions — both black and white — but not their Evil White Master.  Django has a master, all right, and his name is Dr. King Schultz.

It is for this reason that Will Smith declined to assume the role of Django: “Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead.  The other character was the lead!  I was like, ‘No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!'”

Will Smith’s objection to the film gets to the heart of the problem: Django is a secondary character, the Good White Master’s marionette.

Much has been made of the use of the “N-word” in the film.  That is because Tarantino enjoys saying the “N-word.”  The “N-word,” evidently, is his favorite word in the English language, a language that he does not know very well.  He expresses the “N-word” with brio, emitting it with gusto, as if this word were a shibboleth.

One recalls the infamous (I am using this word in its proper sense) scene in Pulp Fiction (1994) in which Tarantino-playing-Tarantino utters the “N-word” in Tourette’s-like staccato beats.  There is no point in arguing that Tarantino is playing a character and that his character is racist, not Tarantino, when Tarantino is obviously playing himself in the scene.  The delight that he feels whenever he bleats the “N-word” is palpable.

Django Unchained is backwater garbage, racist filth, intended for ugly-souled racist hipster fanboy cretins. The film is regressive because it imagines that White (the presence of all color) and Black (the absence of all color) are “colors” and that races and have really existent correspondents.  The film erodes and erases so many of the steps that America has taken over the past four years.  I am writing these words on 13 July 2013, the day on which George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of Trayvon Martin.

What is a racist?  A racist is someone who has nothing of which to be proud other than his or her epidermal pigmentation.  We are, all of us, out of Africa.  Anthropologists have established that Africa is the cradle of humanity and that there are only epidermal subdivisions between us.  It makes no sense to speak of “race,” since each individual “race” encompasses so many of these subdivisions.

Quentin Tarantino hypostatizes race.

THE VIOLENCE IN THE FILM IS PASSIONLESS

I don’t mind screen violence.  Screen violence can be bracing.  The problem with the representational violence in Django Unchained is that it is mechanical, spiritless, passionless.  It is difficult to understand how or why anyone would be offended by the violence in the films of Tarantino.  The violence in all of his films is automatized, transactional, emotionless.

I would like to call your attention to the moment [0:57] in which Schultz murders the alleged stagecoach robber Smitty Bacall.  Schultz snipes at his victim from a distance of about 200 feet.  Tarantino shoots the man from a distance of 200 feet, as well.  There is a complete emotional disengagement between the murderer and the murderee.  There is also a complete emotional disengagement between the film and the murderee.  We see the man’s son running to his father and hear the boy screaming, “Pa! Pa!”  But the boy and his father are no more than flecks of dust on the screen.  The father and son are hardly represented as human beings, at all.

And what about the scene that immediately follows the one that I just described?  The scene in which Django and Schultz use a band of cowboys for target practice [0:58]?  What, precisely, did these cowboys do to deserve to be gunned down?

I wonder, as well, if Lara Lee Candie (Laura Cayouette), Calvin’s sister, deserved to be murdered [2:39]. Yes, she did sell Django into the mining trade. But she could just as easily have had him gelded, which seems to have been the original plan.

All of the murders are filmed with the detached eye of a psychopath.

By contrast, the death scenes in the films of Nicolas Roeg are historically intense.  “A young man is cut down in the prime of his life,” Roeg said, referring to his directorial debut, Performance (1970).  “[Death] is an important thing.”

In Django Unchained, human characters (and horses) are eliminated with the same passion with which you would close pop-up advertisements on your computer screen.

* * * * *

The antistrophe to my arguments is quite predictable. “It’s only a movie” comes the bleating response.  You can hear the booing, the cooing, and the mooing: “It’s only a mooooooooooooooooooovie.” Keep on telling yourselves that: “It’s only a moooooooooooovie… It’s only a moooooooooovie…”

Despite such zoo noise, it can be said, without fear of exaggeration or absurdity, that Django Unchained is one of the vilest motion pictures ever made.  Not because of its violence (again, screen violence can be bracing), but because it delights in the exploitation and dehumanization of African-Americans.  Quentin Tarantino is a hate-criminal, and Django Unchained is a hate crime.

Dr. Joseph Suglia, table41thenovel.com

Advertisements

53 thoughts on “Quentin Tarantino is an anti-black racist. Is DJANGO UNCHAINED racist? Is Quentin Tarantino racist? DJANGO UNCHAINED is a work of anti-black racism. Race Analysis. Representation of Race. Quentin Tarantino and Race. Quentin Tarantino and Racism. Django Unchained and Racism. Django Unchained Race Controversy. Django Unchained Racist Controversy

    • It was such a relief to read this because I’d been “debating” on-line recently that the famous scene where Tarantino throws the N word, back in its day, was for him a statement of FREEDOM OF SPEECH as a (then) avante garde writer. Anyone alive and involved in the “counter culture” back then can confirm this. Obviously, Samuel L. Jackson was cool with the artistic premise- that whites can say whatever the hell they want, most importantly if black are saying it of themselves. That was the TRUE statement of Tarantino’s scene in that movie. And now he’s out trashing cop for Black Lives Matter, giving credence to the theory that I have always fought AGAINST- that degenerate artists are essentially enemy combatants undermining the fabric of the civil society. Now he makes me unsure and at least consider the premise! But alas, I had a pack of rabid hipster comedians calling me racist just for pointing out Tarantino’s hypocrisy and of course, for wanting a tax cut from Trump. It was somewhat disturbing, so I was glad to read your analysis. Intellectually, these are some seriously pathetic times.

  1. L.O.L i want to write something about this review but i am so stoned but i dont know what im sayiinnnnnnnnnnnnnnn. i am so stoned that i dont know what im sayyyyyiiinnnnnnn. L.O.L

  2. i have to believe that this blog post is a joke, dont you see that django is about a man who stands up for the rights of the world. instead of writing a simple commentary you have complicated analysis. please dont be mad at me if this blog post is a joke, okay? im just expressing my opinion, which i have every right to have an opinion on. maybe your just being complicated as a joke, please xplain what you mean, but also please dont be offended at me, okay? look i guess this is a joke because you have a complicated analysis. you should just have a simple commentary, not a complicated analysis for us. if this is a joke, i am really sorry, dont be mad at me, okay? i dont want you to be mad at me i am just speaking my opinion in my mind, okay? i am not trying to be offending i just have my opinion and everybody have the right to there opinion, okay?

  3. Pingback: Selected Essays and Squibs by Joseph Suglia | Selected Essays and Squibs by Joseph Suglia

  4. Reblogged this on thepageofdaniel and commented:
    An interesting analysis. I’ve never seen ” Django Unchained “, but have heard little or nothing redeeming about it. I usually have something positive to say about Mr. Tarantino’s cinematic offerings ( Kill Bill 1 & 2, Pulp Fiction etc. ), but have nothing positive to say about ” Django ” – All based on second – hand analyses & reviews.

  5. I find this article interesting because it seems to me that you missed a key fact: that this movie sold big to the black market (black people attending). Moreso than virtually any film made unless it was intentionally made for a black audience.

    And why is that? Because Tarantino is racist?

    I don’t think so (although he may be racist).

    I think that blacks embraced this move clearly because of the black dude killing white people.

    Hardly seems like anti-black racism was the goal, or if it was, it backfired and went the other way.

    • I believe that you and I are fundamentally in agreement.

      My interpretation is a deconstruction of the film. The term deconstruction has (at least) two meanings, as it was used by Jacques Derrida:

      1.) A deconstruction is the historical analysis of a philosophical concept.

      2.) A deconstruction is an interpretation of a text (written, cinematic, etc.) that shows how that text subverts its own logic. Put another way: A deconstruction shows how a text undermines its own manifest content (how alternative interpretations are possible; how the text means something other than what most readers would take the text to mean / what the author or director intended the text to mean).

      My interpretation is a deconstruction in the second sense.

  6. You do have a very interesting point about Shultz getting the “satisfaction” of killing Calvin Candy, which should rightfully belong to the lead, Django. It also did not strike me as odd until now that Django, instead, is relegated to killing Samuel Jackon’s less evil, more pathetic runner up villian. But at the same time, I have to offer a counter as somebody who enjoyed the movie and is not ashamed of it.

    I don’t think the movie is made with malicious, racist intent. The movie is caustic and offensive, but Quentin Tarantino sort of carved out his fame on exactly those grounds. He’s a button pusher and, frankly, pre abolition Mississippi is like an entire NASA control room of buttons right at his fingertips. He’s going to push as many as he can. But the way that the violence against slaves is rendered, it hardly seems fetishistic or exploitative.

    The Mandingo fight in particular makes me queasy every time; instead of being filmed with the verve of, say, a fight scene out of Kill Bill, the scene is filmed in such a way it isn’t enjoyable. We are made to hear fists slapping against skin and bones breaking and we don’t get the reprieve of fast cuts, silly wire effects or fountains of blood. Then there is the horrifying “dog” scene, which actually kept me up after seeing this movie the first time. Its heart wrenching, its scary and its almost as infuriating as the “hot box” scene.

    I think Quentin Tarantino does a pretty good job not laughing off slavery as just an excuse for some good old blood and gore – which there IS, in spades. Cold, unfeeling, gleeful violence abounds, but to me this is just: A) Quentin being Quentin and B) what a SPAGHETTI WESTERN is. In Sergio Leone films in particular, the protagonists always have a particularly tongue in cheek attitude towards bloodshed. In fact, its worth noting that the second Django film is titled “Django Kill: If Alive, Shoot”.

    So while Mr. Tarantino does have a borderline sexual fixation with violence, (or maybe it already crossed the border) I think the subject matter he’s emulating deserves a fair share of the blame. Its also very obvious that, yes, he’s borrowing lots of plot elements from lots and lots and LOTS of other Spaghetti Westerns. It might just be laziness, but I see a patchwork of very deliberate references that suggest not only does Quentin know what he’s doing, he wants US to know, too.

    He didn’t choose to name Django and just hope nobody would notice that there was already another spaghetti western whose protaganist shared the name. It was as deliberate as the reference to “Mandingo”, because Mandingo fighting was not a historically documented fact. The concept basically originated IN the movie Mandingo, as far as history is concerned.

    I think you have some good points and I think its really important to be critical of a director as controversial as Quentin Tarantino, specifically because he should NOT be allowed to “get away with anything.” But in the end, I don’t think this movie is, pardon the pun, strictly black and white. Like the infamous N-word scene in “Pulp Fiction”, it seems pretty straightforward. Jimmy is racist, right?

    But he does risk divorce and hard jail time for Jules, his black friend and lets not forget that Bonnie, his wife, IS BLACK. The movie only reveals this in a moments flash, but its a fact and anybody is free to dispute me if they can prove it, but I KNOW my “Pulp Fiction.” So if he seems to be laying on the N word a lot, maybe its just because Jimmy really does love his wife. His black wife.

    And that’s my ten cents, I hope you can respect it because I do respect yours. He’s pop culture’s golden boy, with fans who love vengeance AND bloodshed lol You’re really putting yourself out there on this one.

  7. Pingback: Selected Essays and Squibs by Dr. Joseph Suglia | Selected Essays and Squibs by Joseph Suglia

  8. You and I disagree on the meaning of race, and I never watched the movie in question (because I read that it glorifies anti-white violence, something we have way too much of today). But you seem to make some valid points in your criticism of this movie. Thanks for vindicating my choice to spare my time and money and skip this movie.

  9. Thank you for articulating what I was struggling to describe when I saw this movie. A brilliant art teacher in my youth said something that really rang true for me re: QT. He said, the artist’s curse is to do his or her great work too soon. Pulp Fiction is to me still a masterpiece of acting, dialog, chronology and gritty Angelino angst, but even revisiting Reservoir Dogs now makes me sick. I’m unimpressed with the locker room banter that passes for deep thought. It’s no longer interesting to me to witness the female negative space in ALL of his films with women simply being foils for foisting up the male-driven action. QT didn’t fail enough to hit any kind of authentic stride and that was never his aim. He is drunk on his own popularity and doesn’t even need to justify his shock value anymore. He is on par with the likes of P. Diddy, or Jeff Koons. They specialize on branding that mostly consists of pop culture sound bites plastered together for broad and shallow appeal.

  10. I’m not sure I agree with your arguments.

    Tarantino has always created pastiche films that are homages to the films he loves. This has never been a secret. He is doing in a direct way what every creator does, i.e. condenses their influences through their own style and produces new works. His cut and paste style isn’t bad, nor is it plagiarism, since it isn’t the sum of its parts nor a wholly lifted work.

    The violence being passionless is a very subjective argument to make. If you aren’t enjoying a film, or you find the pacing to be too slow, etc, then that will suck the passion and excitement out of anything. Tarantino is known for his love of monologues and, more recently, his use of long takes. I would argue that the violence isn’t passionless but the way Tarantino has moved toward the use of long takes with meandering dialogue tends to rob his films of tension and thus passion. I know during the gelding scene that this was meant to be tense, but I found it to be too much talking and not enough doing. Compare that to a similar scene in his early film Reservoir Dogs, where there is more movement and pace.

    I can’t really comment on the racism angle. I’m a tad biased since seeing an interview with Tarantino who seems painfully unaware that he isn’t black.

  11. I really like your directness and your courage to put down things eaactly as you see them. There is a lot of passion in this piece. As an aspiring screenwriter with one script going through the “garbage disposer” of pre-production right now, I totally agree with your accessment of Tarantino. He is the epitome of wrting film scripts by formula, of being afraid to use anything that hasn’t proven profitable in the past. Maybe that’s why he gets by with outright (or at least apparent) plaigerism. I’m sure his financial support totally endorses this. It’s “do what’s safe” and F*** art or originality.

  12. Thanks for this article…it’s an eye-opener. I loved Tarantino when I was younger for his rebellion in being politically correct but started to feel uncomfortable with his productions a few years ago.

  13. Yes! I felt like I needed a shower after that film! That the cartoon slave owner and cartoon white trash were presented without comment for acceptance as historical characters (and what was with the woman dressed in drag?) was almost parenthetical to the stereotyping and clichés of the main characters. Magical Negro meets Frankenstein’s monster!

  14. This blog was so goddamn on-the-money… I’m at a loss. What excellent and incisive commentary on a very controversial director… one I’ve been kind of pissed at for a while for basically plagiarizing (with style…) old films and reusing their soundtracks, their plot lines, their archetypal characters for camp value. Thank you for helping me to articulate my objections to this film. I had, on the very surface level, thought the use of rap music during a scene in which slaves work a field was misguided at best. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts simply on that musical selection.

    I’m floored by your intellect.

  15. I cannot agree with the argument the he is specifically an anti-black racist. This is a man that is infatuated with the caricature of black people engendered by the Blaxsploitation genre. While this type of cultural ignorance is harmful in its own right, I feel it’s important to make the distinction between “Quentin Tarantino is an insensitive fool who is blinded by his own privilege and ignorance” and “Quentin Tarantino is a slobbering anti-black racist who makes Blaxploitation films for hipsters”. I understand your position. If I was sitting on that opener, I’d use it without hesitation. Hyperbole can be a beautiful thing, when used sparingly, but you seem to confound it with fact. The evidence you provide is plentiful and convincing, but are woefully inadequate for the accusations you are making. Quentin Tarantino is a man living in a cloud of privilege that sees his cultural appropriation as beneficent to a race he is oblivious to. As such, the films he makes are just as misguided and wrong, which does make them harmful. I agree with you for the most part, I just don’t agree with your summation of his motive or the timbre with which you make your argument.

    Let me put that aside and say that it was an absolute joy to read. I love your use of language. I relish opportunities to learn new words and I have to say, you delivered there. “Oleaginous” was a particular delight to pick up. I look forward to seeing more of your work.

  16. I’m with you, Dr. S. I think that Tarantino has created so much smoke that he gets away with his racism……………. Barry Dym (www.barrydym.wordpress.com )

  17. Pingback: Selected Essays and Squibs by Dr. Joseph Suglia: A Table of Contents | Selected Essays and Squibs by Joseph Suglia

  18. I didn’t bother to read beyond the first sentence. The idiocy on display there was enough for to me vomit.

  19. I agree completely. Q. Tarantino seems to think that the over-use of the horrid N-word somehow creates immunity from its offensiveness. Ah, no, wrong. It still is offensive. Moreover, it shows lack of writing and directing ability on the part of him and his film crew. He’s an over-rated film-maker, like Werner Herzog (see my poem that mocks Herr Herzog). Thanks for posting this.
    I look forward to Kathryn Bigelow’s film, Detroit (Aug. 2017).

  20. Pingback: Selected Essays and Squibs by Joseph Suglia: Table of Contents | Selected Essays and Squibs by Joseph Suglia

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s