That is, don’t get your panties in a bunch, Mr. Lee
It’s been almost a month since Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” was released nationwide, and I’ve yet to stumble upon an organized protest of the film. I haven’t been in line at the post-office and heard two black women on either side of me strike up a conversation about whether or not its content is appropriate. The so-called New Black Panthers haven’t even held single four-person news conference to make a statement about it (not that I’ve seen, anyway).
Sure black barbershops are gabbing about the movie’s contents, but those conversations are more along the lines how awesome it was when Django stood atop the grand staircase in Candie-Land and blasted Lara Lee Candie (Laura Cayouette) out of the shot, and effectively out of the known universe. And yes, that was a mashup of James Brown and Tupac playing behind that savage gun battle.
It has come to pass that the most obnoxious aspect of Django’s release into the wild are the reactions of megalomaniacs like Spike Lee and L.A. Reid. These vainglorious basterds and their barrage of public comments speaking on the behalf of the black intelligentsia against the film and its contents has become more than a mere eye-roll.
L.A. Reid–who apparently liked the movie–stated that he felt the n-word should have been “approached…more sensitively.” As if slavers didn’t say the n-word more than Trinidad James does in any one song.
How L.A. Reid believes slavers talked in the 1800’s:
“I’m fixin’ to get up and go sell me a couple strong African-American migrant-workers today!”
“Hey boy! What’s a young black employee such as yourself doing on the porch before supper?”
…Phrases like these were widely used, well…never. In Reid’s more perfect Django, the slaves would have sported Camelbaks with lemon Gatorade–hey, it’s got electrolytes. Slavers trusted in the honor system, so Django and the six poor souls that open the movie would’ve been shackle-free. Whippings? No; Bart Simpson blackboard sessions of ‘I’se not fixin to runs noweya eva agane’ in repetition.
Then there’s Spike Lee.
I will first qualify my undying devotion to Lee’s film career; I think his movies are underrated and vastly important in the American film canon; actually the slept on “The Miracle at Saint Anna” may even be my favorite. With that acknowledgment, I know school-yard haterism when I see it. Lee’s Pedestrian and trite critique of the use of the n-word by Tarantino’s slavers in the film is a lion’s yawn.
“I have a definite problem with Quentin Tarantino’s excessive use of the n-word. And let the record state that I never said that he cannot use that word– I’ve used that word in many of my films – but I think something is wrong with him.”
Lets do some homework in a device used in art called “irony.” In 1994’s “Pulp Fiction,” there’s the famous scene where Samuel L. Jackson’s character visits a buddy of his, played by Tarantino, to help dispose of an unfortunate gunshot victim. The n-word is said in reference to the dead guy to Jackson’s character an obscene amount of times. Moreover, what’s more peculiar is that Tarantino is talking to a vicious black hitman. The irony and humor hits an apex when we learn that the wife of Tarantino’s character, “Bonnie,” whom he decries for her bad taste in coffee, is a black woman!
(As an aside for those long haven forgotten this sequence, there’s an implied cut to the near future when “Bonnie” is returning home from a night-shift at the hospital to find a dead guy waiting for her when she gets home. Bonnie is portrayed by a black actress.)
Lee told Vibe Magazine that he didn’t intend to watch the movie because it was “disrespectful to his ancestors.” We’re in agreement somewhat here: African chatel-slavery certainly was disrespectful to his/mine/our ancestors–understatement of all-time. But a revenge flick where the protagonists spend the majority of the film cartoonishly mowing down slave-drivers, can hardly be called disrespectful.
On Christmas night at the screening I saw of “Django Unchained,” half of the seats were occupied by people whose ancestors were portrayed as slaves–black people. No black folks left in the middle of the film. Instead, the numerous bouts of applause that took place during the film often masked some of the dialogue that followed. So much for disrespect, Spike.
So let us call his sentiment about “Django Unchained,” what it is: Hating. Or Jealousy; jealous that you weren’t the one to make it. We’ve seen “Roots” and “The Color Purple” enough.
Spike Lee is not the official notary of the black populous. The ticket-sales speak for themselves.
Spike, buy smaller panties if they ride up too high.