Home > Film & stuff > Phony, Guilty White People Will Have a Problem with “Django Unchained”

Phony, Guilty White People Will Have a Problem with “Django Unchained”

I wrote a brief piece not long ago about my excitement over the release of the trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s latest feature Django Unchained. In all of my excitement over the great shots, characters and dialogue revealed in the footage, I neglected to realize something: the subject matter is rather controversial.

The basic premise of the film follows a bounty hunter and a slave as they seek vengeance against various wrongdoers. Fair enough, right? Tarantino has picked an enslaved black man as the protagonist in a genre blending, exploitation-style Western film. For any fan of the man’s work (which I am), this seems like a great time at the movies. But wait! The film is about a slave… and it’s directed by a white person? AHHHHHH! That shouldn’t happen, right? In our new post-racial, Obama electing, free-thinking society we call home, we can’t possibly allow some goofy white guy to make a movie that’s racial in tone– that would be racist!

It sounds preposterous, I know, but just wait for this type of argument to start rearing its ugly head. The phony, emotional, reactionary opinions are already starting to pour out on Internet message boards and it’s only going to get worse. The subject of slavery makes white people nervous (even die hard Tarantino fans like this guy). In this age of political correctness and HR departments, discussions about race and racism are not encouraged due to fear of repercussions– lawsuits, firings, slaps to the face, etc. White people have thoughts about diversity and race in this country (I think), they’re just too damn afraid to say anything. What they’re not afraid to do, however, is point out how not racist they are. It’s a guilty-white-person past time.

Remember that idea of a “post-racial” America I joked about earlier– no black people thought for a second when President Obama was elected that prejudice and bigotry in this country evaporated. The post-racial America that was bantered about after the election on network news so much is a Caucasian fabrication (yes, that was on purpose). Not for one second did idiots pundits think that racism disappeared, but white people on the news were clamoring to point out how forward-thinking and accepting they are (hint: if someone feels the need to tell you he/she isn’t a racist, he/she probably is). Their version of openness and acceptance of all colors involves censoring anyone who might say something even slightly controversial. It’s an insidious way of stopping discourse and effectively slowing down any true advancement towards a less prejudiced society.

This cap on honest racial discussions in journalism and film has completely backfired. Instead of quelling prejudice by condemning radio hosts, TV shows and filmmakers for rocking the racial boat, decent people are being bullied into speaking about race in a vague, watered-down fashion. The real racists out there are just going to keep on keeping on; meanwhile, everyone else is stuck trying not to offend the wrong people.

Offend. That’s a popular word nowadays. Everyone seems to be offended by something. You want to know what guilt-ridden white people are offended by? Other white people who want to talk about race maturely and honestly; in other words, Quentin Tarantino and his new movie Django Unchained. I know I might seem paranoid. The movie isn’t even out yet and I’m immediately crying wolf. Just wait. We’re in an election year, which is like hunting season for loudmouth phony white folks who like to pontificate about the state of race relations in America. I’m just glad Django is being released in December, that way we don’t have to grimace as some dolt of a reporter asks Romney and/or Obama what he thinks about the film’s premise.

It’s important to offend, and I mean that, truly. Our First Amendment rights are in place to protect the unpopular speech. When our citizens and our news outlets start to passive aggressively bully anyone who dares to court controversy, we all suffer. No artist should be questioned over whether he or she has the right to make a film or write a book about touchy subject matter that makes white people uncomfortable. Tarantino has never struck me as someone who is overly political, but Django Unchained is going to be an important film this year. The so-called post-racially enlightened-types will reveal themselves to be the hypocritical, closeted bigots they are. I promise, I won’t say, “I told you so.”

(Yes, I will.)

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  1. Bill Baillie
    June 8, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Jordan,
    Your piece is provocative and well thought out. I’m proud of you for speaking your mind and I must say that I agree with you. Thank you for being such an insightful young man.

  2. Not Guilty Gary B
    June 8, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Ditto to that. Can’t wait for Django to release.

  3. DJAwkwardSilence
    June 19, 2012 at 9:15 am

    So I notice you don’t actually make an argument here. You just free associate a bunch of different groups of white people together and assume that they’re all the same people. You also stick words in the mouths of anyone criticizing the film. You also adorably avoid the subject that there are some black people out there that aren’t too happy about the way this movie looks either.

    I don’t care that a white person is directing this movie. I don’t believe in a “post-racial” America; the notion is ridiculous. On the contrary, I’d argue if anything Django Unchained embraces that concept more than people who are concerned about its handling of its subject matter.

    There’s nothing phony about being concerned about the handling of slavery as a subject matter. It’s a far cry from censoring and banning art people find offensive (and I agree, art should sometimes offend) to just tell people that it might be obnoxious.

    As a country, the vast majority of people still have very little understanding of what slavery was really like, of the fundamental role it played in the development of our country, or of the impact it has had culturally and socially on people that resonate to this day. It’s pretty clear from the trailer that we’re going to be getting a skewed, unrealistic, cool-Tarantino version of that time period. Tarantino’s modus operandi is style over substance, and when dealing with such weighty substantial subject matter it feels insulting to many people to do so.

    I’m not even saying you couldn’t make an exciting action flick in this setting. But I sure as hell don’t trust Tarantino to handle the subject matter with any grace, care, or insight. And while there are many works that fail in this regard, Django will undoubtedly be wildly popular because of Tarantino’s reputation and he will, by you and others, be given a free pass on everything obnoxious about his movie simply because of his hyper-stylized, contentless approach to cinema.

    I expect this movie to have little to no insight on the subject of race in our country. I think that’s exactly why you and others so look forward to it. You’re the folks who want to live in the post-racial dreamland where you can have a movie about slavery that pretends it’s not such a big deal anymore, that is more concerned with its soundtrack and stylish costuming choices than challenging its audience to think about the subject.

    • June 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      I don’t mind criticism of the film and I don’t mind criticism of Tarantino. If you think he lacks substance as a director, that’s fine, though I personally don’t see his films that way. My problem stems from reactionary criticism of the film from people who haven’t seen it yet purely because slavery is part of the plot. If people hate this movie because they think DiCaprio can’t pull off the villain role or Tarantino is a hack, so be it, but my observations (and my argument you couldn’t find) are of a very specific group of guilt-ridden white people who are hypocritical and phony when it comes to discussions about race in America. I’m also not avoiding the fact that there are black people who aren’t comfortable with this film. My whole idea for this post came from a black film message board. But to clarify again, I’m writing about a specific type of white person that continually pops up when stories/controversies surrounding race arrive in the media. You don’t have to look far for these types considering Rodney King just died.

  4. Pissed White Irish Guy and Not Feeling Guilty for Anything
    August 31, 2012 at 9:10 am

    All this talk of let’s get honest about slavery is laughable at best; infuriating most of the time. You Hollywood lib types like to exclaim how dishonest our view of slavery is yet never touch the subject of how blacks got here, how the Sub-Saharan slave trade started, who started it, etc.

    Here’s the dishonest elephant in the room that you don’t care to notice:
    1) black people sold millions of their own to Arabs as slaves to be marched across the sahara and possibly castrated – before we got there.
    2) black people captured their own for this without anyone’s help or encouragement.
    3) black people found a new and better buyer for there slaves in Europeans; once again, rounded them up and sold them to us, with very very little encouragement.
    4) Europeans came to Africa for slaves because just about every European country made slavery of its citizens illegal, oh wait, after they ran out of the first trans-Atlantic slaves (Irish – who did not sell their own and who later died in droves to free the blacks).

    And you want white people to be honest and face their guilt. You sound like the typical black racist who thinks white people should be held to a higher standard of morality than blacks. And since we’re adding up the racial score card – where does our extreme disproportionate ‘inventing of everything that makes your life better’ vs. the black’s extreme disproportionate ‘lack of inventing anything that makes your life better’ weigh in. Now there’s a big pill of honesty you’re not ready to swallow. Oh I forgot, the good things that white people have done don’t actually count in this racist game of yours. And the bad things that your race has done (not inventend much of anything; more murders of white people in any given year than all the lynchings in the entire post-slavery era) don’t count either. Good luck rebuting anything I just wrote – you probably won’t respond. Douche.

    • September 8, 2012 at 10:31 pm

      You clearly didn’t read my post. I have a problem with liberals who have a phony attitude about racism and slavery, you dumb fucking hick. They’re phony and have a guilt complex that is completely absurd, which is what this post was criticizing. What did you do? Read the headline, make an assumption, then write an ignorant diatribe that ends with calling me a douche? Congratulations. Why don’t you try thinking your inflammatory thoughts through next time, you anonymous, cowardly cocksucker. At the very least, make an attempt to have a civil discussion.

      And “rebuting” isn’t a word.

  5. Bob Saget
    September 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    I guess it isn’t racist that the title character “enjoys killing whites”?

    • September 8, 2012 at 10:34 pm

      So what if it is? That’s the story. That’s what the movie’s about. Why does everything have to be constantly labeled “racist” and subject to scrutiny? Black on white, white on black, it’s all the same, and we should treat it the same. When it comes to film making, the most important thing to remember is to not criticize the director/writer/cast due to their skin color just because a storyline is racial in tone.

  6. Donella
    October 24, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Since I’m so sick of Quentin Tarantino’s continual and gleeful overuse of hipster/whimsical overuse of racial epithets specific to African Americans dating all they way back to Crimson Tide, I’ll not “pay” to see Django Unchained. Tarantino’s spoiled, egotistical, privileged attempt to “own” the Black image is repulsive. Because my read of the released script of Django Unchained tells me that this movie is aimed square at juvenile fanboys who have bloodthirst for violence and rape, I’ll save my $$$ for 12 Years a Slave. 12 Years a Slave is basically the same story, absent the comedy, exploitation, spaghetti, hip hop romance, and whatever other appellations the marketers attempt to use to sell DJ.

    • October 24, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      I’m very excited for “12 Years a Slave.” Steve McQueen is an exceptional filmmaker and he’s quickly become one of my favorites. “Hunger” and “Shame” were both brilliant works of art. I staunchly disagree with your trivialization of Tarantino’s work and your condescending assessment of “juvenile fanboys” because he’s frequently been a critical darling and highly respected by arthouse fans; however, I respect voting with your wallet and choosing not to support the film– it is precisely what someone like yourself who finds him racially insensitive should do. I just don’t identify with the outrage.

  7. Donella
    October 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    “…it is precisely what someone like yourself…” is somewhat trivializing and condescending.I don’t know the secrets of Tarantino’s heart or head. But the content that he’s produced for the past two decades is public. Tarantino happens to utter racial epithets against Black people and writes scripts using epithets against Black people frequently, repetitively, often, and usually. With the financial support of The Weinstein Company, Tarantino has distributed racial epithets and content negative towards Black people around the world while Black directors with limited access have not had the financial means to counterbalance Tarantino’s negative portrayals and distribute them with equal access around the world. Strangely enough, Tarantino does not utter or write racial epithets against Native Americans, Jews, Asians, Italians, Irish, or other racial and ethnic minorities with the same frequency (if ever). I wonder why that is? Also, the portrayal of the female “lead” in Django Unchained that he plans to distribute around the world is sexually explicit and extremely violence. He chose not to portray the female lead in Inglorious Basterds as a repeated victim of sexual violence. He portrayed her as a heroine and driver of action and then distributed that image around the world. Anyone with vocal cords can say a racial epithet and tell stories of sexual violence against Black people. Anyone with access to writing implements can write a script with racial epithets and sexual violence against Black people. Anyone with access to money can distribute racial epithets and sexual violence against Black people (on Christmas Day). However, anyone with eyes and eardrums and a tendency to bypass movies produced by companies and directors with suspicious motives can hold that person accountable.

    • October 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm

      And how do you plan to hold that person (Tarantino, I assume) accountable? And how do you explain talented black actors (Samuel L. Jackson, most obviously) who continue to work with Tarantino? They clearly don’t share your opinion that he’s produced years of racial bigotry and insensitivity on film.

  8. Donella
    October 25, 2012 at 9:40 am

    It leaves me sad, the refusal of a “grown” man to acknowledge any empathy or take any type of responsibility for the harm that he causes others.

    • October 25, 2012 at 12:49 pm

      That’s not an answer to my question, Donella. If Tarantino is harming the black community, why do black actors continue to support and work with him? Or why do black audiences support his films?

  9. Donella
    October 25, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I have no feeling of excitement about seeing a Black woman gang-raped for Christmas. I believe I’ll throw money to the Hobbit this year.

    • October 25, 2012 at 4:32 pm

      All right, Donella. Fair enough. You don’t have to go to the movie or answer my question.

  10. Repent
    December 5, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    This movie is racist propaganda. If you defend or support this film, you are an evil racist worm, plain and simple. Get a life and get a job.

  11. Repent
    December 5, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    And shortcutsl, you a straight up bitch, come around my neighbourhood and you will get your cord pulled pussy.

    • December 5, 2012 at 5:49 pm

      Go fuck your mother, you anonymous Internet troll. It’s a movie, not racist propaganda, you ignorant bigot. Go enjoy your welfare and leave the civilized discussion to civilized people.

  12. December 6, 2012 at 10:50 am

    I agree with the critics of the Shortcuts author. I happen to know someone that knows him, and they personally told me they saw him in a movie theater actually rubbing the crotch area of his jeans during all the slave-beating scenes. He was quoted as saying “I can’t wait until this film is on DVD, so I can make a personal re-cut and only keep the slavery scenes in.”

    • December 6, 2012 at 11:23 am

      hahaha, oh Uncle Paul! The only theaters you go into are showing Pixar films, you kid toucher.

  13. Eagle
    December 30, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    I just love how you answer these people’s comments! LOL I was crazy about the soundtrack with James Brown and Tupac “Unchained”. This scene and music made this movie epic right away. Jamie Foxx blasting people while Tupac rapping over it. Extra-Legendary!

    • December 30, 2012 at 11:04 pm

      Thank you. And I agree– it is legendary. I saw the movie Christmas night and haven’t stopped thinking about it. It lived up to every high expectation I had.

  1. July 27, 2012 at 12:07 am
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