Skip to comments.Dr. Boyce Watkins: Three Reasons Why This Black Man Loved “Django Unchained”
Posted on 12/27/2012 6:10:41 PM PST by drewh
After reading this week about the objections that director Spike Lee had about the new film Django Unchained, I was both curious and concerned. I wanted to see the film myself in order to determine if Spike actually had a point in his critique. I also hoped that Spike would explain himself a bit more, instead of making brief, even cryptic, remarks about the project on his Twitter feed. I love Spike and his films, but the nature of his criticism didnt make much sense to me, given that hed never seen the film in the first place. Ive seen several Quentin Tarantino films in the past, and I honestly find the man to be brilliant, creative and extremely weird. I wondered if Spike had a point.
But after seeing the film, I have to say that I think the great Spike Lee might have been wrong on this one. By the end of the movie, nearly everyone in the theater was clapping, the story was powerful and the cinematography was stunning. Tarantino hit the nail on the head, and hes probably going to win a few well-deserved awards. If you want to understand this film, imagine a mainstream version of the John Singleton film, Rosewood, with a lot more action. To be honest, only a white guy could have made this movie and convinced so many white people to pay money to see it.
I had my own reasons for loving Django Unchained, and here they are:
1) There was a legitimate African American hero: Django, played by Jamie Foxx, is one of the few serious black heroes ever produced by Hollywood, a place that tends to put black people in a really degrading box. Django wasnt just a sidekick or comedic buffoon. He didnt have some ridiculous set of character flaws like Will Smiths conflicted hero in the movie Hancock. He didnt need a white man to save him, like most other fictional or non-fictional accounts we see on screen. Instead, Django was simply a strong, brave, highly-skilled black man who loved his wife enough to put his life on the line to save her. In fact, I dare say he was downright inspirational, which is more than you can say about the black men in The Color Purple.
2) It had a beautiful portrayal of black love: Far too many Hollywood films enjoy highlighting the incessant conflict between black men and women. We live in a world where love and marriage are consistently replaced by abuse, addiction and baby mama drama (just watch nearly any VH1 show or listen to the radio to see at least 25 examples of what Im talking about). Djangos deep love for his wife and desire to save her from her slave masters struck a cord with anyone who has had a first hand experience with meaningful love. It was awesome to watch a black man show bravery in order to protect his family.
3) An in-your-face portrayal of slavery: Most of us are given the polite story about slavery when were in school. Its as if the period of bondage was but a moment in history, followed by Abraham Lincoln giving us our freedom, and Martin Luther King giving us a speech ..oh, then we got a black president. This film, to the extent that it is historically accurate, probably mortified many of the people in the audience by showing the depths of dehumanization that took place during the greatest holocaust in American history. Unfortunately, this film will be the best education on slavery that many of the audience members will ever receive, but its certainly better than nothing.
The bottom line is that Django Unchained was a great film, and I think Spikes criticism might have been unwarranted. I dont think that every depiction of slavery has to be a purely educational endeavor which turns the movie theater into a history class. Its OK to laugh, fight, love, live and learn, all at the same time. Even Quentins liberal use of the n-word in the film didnt seem in the least bit out of context (you cant say the same about his n-word rant during Pulp Fiction). I argue that he went out of his way to be respectful.
No matter how we feel about Django Unchained, we should be sure to remember that the best way to have our stories told is to tell them ourselves. Gaining the ability to finance our own projects creates both the opportunity and the responsibility to make films that present a more accurate representation of black humanity and the black experience. Life does imitate art, and if we want to put an end to some of the shucking, jiving and buck dancing many of us still see in our communities, then managing the imagery of ourselves in both film and music might be a great place to start. I would personally rather see young black men become inspired by brave men like Django than by the rapper 2Chainz ..Django was willing to go to the ends of the earth to protect and preserve his family .2Chainz could only appreciate Kerry Washington if she were a big booty hoe; those are two very different interpretations of black masculinity.
I congratulate Quentin, Jamie, Kerry, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson for an extraordinary film. Django Unchained was a classic for the ages.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, Commercialized Hip-Hop: The Gospel of Self Destruction.
"cord"???? And this guy has a doctorate???
Django Foxx's intemperate remarks on this film ("got to kill all the white people") and his blasphemous remarks as regards Obama makes him and his work dead to me.
Oh why doesn’t he just tell the truth instead of slinging this crap! He likes the movie because it has a BLACK hero killing WHITE people! Just the kind of movie we need to De-emphasize our differences and bring us together as a people. I for one will just ad this to the list of Hollywood crap created by Hollywood elitist idiots.
“oh, then we got a black president.”
That is SO $#$&# racist.
yup. won’t be watching it. won’t be renting it, not even for $1 from the red box. won’t ever be watching anything else with Jamie Foxx in it either.
Who really cares about Spike Lee? What a non-story and waist of effort.
The movie is in bad taste. We are on the verge of a racial war in our country. Blacks are already senselessly angry and are taking out their rage on everyone. Adding fuel to the fire is irresponsible.
If or when this whole thing explodes, the Democrats, Torintino, Foxx and the rest of the racial hustlers will have as much blood on their hands as the people in the streets.
This one ranks right there with “Brokeback Mountain”. I have never seen and have no interest in seeing.
I even added this summer’s tiger movie to my don’t see list when I saw that the director is the one who directed the pc mountain movie.
A slave cost $150,000 adjusted for inflation. Most slave owners took out life insurance policies on their slaves. Why would insurance companies insure slaves if the slave owners were going to abuse and starve them to death. It would be like a farmer buying as John Deer Combine and beating it with a baseball bat and running it without maintenance and destroying it, that just doesn’t make sense.
Agreed, this movie is an incitement to riot.
Foxx is taking heat now from his own side of the aisle..http://www.inquisitr.com/456051/katt-williams-says-jamie-foxx-is-gay-slams-django-unchained-nsfw-video/.
Oh, then we got a black president........and he crashed western civilization. More accurate.
Your remarks are right on target.
Spike Lee is bad-mouthing the film because he didn’t make it. Spike would have loved making a movie about a black man killing whites.
You don’t have to worry about this white man ever spending a dime to go see it.White people who go to watch this garbage have a screw loose.
A rhetoric question at best
Would there be such an eloquent(??) review if it had Buford running amok and mowing down the slaves then have the actor get on a couple of National TV shows commenting how much fun he had making the movie and saying “I killed every black I saw”, “HOW WHITE IS THAT”
Somehow, I don’t think so.
Spike Lee just thinks no one but him should be making movies about black people.
Watkins has a PhD in finance from Ohio State University. Mentally unstable. Sees everything as racism.
“There was a legitimate African American hero: Django, played by Jamie Foxx, is one of the few serious black heroes ever produced by Hollywood, a place that tends to put black people in a really degrading box.”
I guess the last movie this idiot saw was “Gone With the Wind.”
Appreciate your viewpoint. I was hedging about whether to see it but think I will. I like much of Tarentinos work. Over the top with absolutely no regard for political correctness. Uninhibited adolescence. I don’t sense a lefty political tilt. More of an unleashed comic book store nerd who wants to make wild movies to satisfy himself. To be honest I liked Inglorious Bastards too. For that matter I liked A Clockwork Orange by Kubrick too. Another violent movie with an anti-hero. Anyway, Tarentino isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, my wife hates him, but I don’t believe he is a sanctimonious left-winger either. With tax hikes, gun confiscation, and Obama’s attempt to destroy our economy, this is pretty small change.
American slave owners also allowed their slaves to reproduce because it cost so much more to transport them to America, unlike the Arab countries, who either bought only females or castrated the males.
I'd pay good money for Doc Watkins and his philosophical "brother", Doc Skip Gates, to join Drs. Sowell and Williams in a debate. The question of the hour: Resolved - Twentieth Century US social, economic, and political evolution was beneficial for minority populations. I don't care about winnner or loser, I just want to see the fireworks while appreciating the ability of Sowell and Williams to skewer their opposition.
So, is Denzel Washington chopped liver? Book of Eli - Man on Fire - both were very compelling and DW was great, as usual.
Dr. Boyce seems to miss the irony that yet AGAIN a white man (Tarentino) saves the black man. A movie only a white man could make...
Book of Eli was very good. Haven’t seen Man on Fire. Nonetheless, DW is a great contribution to film.
Once enjoyed SLJ, but his racial politics are too distracting.
Sorry dude, but the biggest holocaust (I refuse to say 'greatest') in American history started in 1973 with Roe vs Wade and is still ongoing.
Let's see Quentin Tarantino do a movie about that.
I'll pass on this. I don't like Tarantino's films for the most part. I. Think he's a film buff and former video store nerd who knows a lot about films and filmmakers and who makes highly derivative movies. They are directed and photographed well, which makes them look 'arty' to today's audiences.
The only film of his that I really liked was PULP FICTION. I liked KILL BILL PART 1, but found Part 2 talky and pretentious. I hated INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. A film about Jewish soldiers scalping Nazis and then wreaking vengeance on the Nazi high command just seemed in bad taste considering that the Jews were lambs to the slaughter. I failed to see the cleverness of having them win some sort of fantasy version of WW2.
As to whether QT is a big lib, I still remember him announcing Michael Moore's Oscar at the ceremony and declaring "Michael, this wasn't political". I'm also gonna pass on this because I do think it is inflammatory. Yet another movie trying to make the point that 'whitey still wants to keep the black man down' and starring an idiot racist to boot.
yup, that was pretty dumb to slam your audience, but these actors just don’t seem to care. DW may agree with SLJ, but he has the good sense to keep it to himself.
I remember when Linda Ronstadt went off during a performance and someone in her audience told her to just shut up and sing. She was very offended and didn’t want to entertain anyone who didn’t share her political views even if it meant she lost out on the money.
I will NEVER watch this movie!! I will NEVER watch another Jamie Foxx movie again as long as I live.
Man on Fire is one of those movies I watch whenever it is on because it’s that good.
Pretty dumb of SLJ to slam 90% of his audience, but these actors just don’t seem to care. DW may agree with SLJ, but he has the good sense to keep it to himself.
It’s racist. The star is a racist “joking” about killing all the white people. Don’t watch it. Put the radical left’s race hate and baiting out of business. Black racism is as violent and disgusting as any white racism we have seen in the US.
There are times that I wish FR had a "like" button like FB does. This is one of them.
Save the 'kill all of them' crap for Africa, where it belongs. I'm not going to pay anything to watch this movie.
will someone tell this idiot that slavery still exists, and it exists mostly in Africa and the Mid east....
be careful folks....most of us are targets now....don't be a victim...
Crap racist movie. “You mean, I get paid to kill white people?”
Crap racist movie for morons. Won’t get a dime of my money.