Quentin Tarantino is trolling you and “Django Unchained” is awesome for what it is

Via Chicago Tribune

If you found yourself upset about the new movie “Django Unchained,” your first mistake was probably listening to anything Quentin Tarantino said about his new film before it premiered. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Tarantino claimed his new movie “Django” is more authentic than the classic miniseries Roots and I’m here to tell you that Tarantino is out here trolling you, and it’s working.

He’s baiting folks like Spike Lee and other critics of the film, who find Tarantino’s portrayal of slavery “disrespectful.” By comparing his film to “Roots,” Tarantino is simply creating controversy, so that more people go see the movie, and it’s totally working as “Django” has made $64 million in a few weeks time.

First of all, unlike “Roots,” “Django” isn’t a drama. It’s a movie with cartoonish violence and Mel Brooks comedic timing. There are elements of drama to be sure, but the main story isn’t supposed to win awards for historic accuracy. The ridiculous circumstances the main characters are navigating is simply embedded into an intense brutality as if the true brutality of slavery is simply a casual aside, which is interesting to be sure but not altogether different from other Tarantino efforts. Think Inglorious Bastards

In my opinion, “Django” is an homage to the classic Mel Brooks’ film “Blazing Saddles,” complete with the same corny vibe in the opening credits, costuming, and art direction. There are certainly influences from other films in “Django,” but for me the “Blazing Saddles” similarities stand out.

Let’s be real: The director who made Kill Bill, about a woman in a Bruce Lee costume who slices up several hundred men in a Japanese nightclub in her quest to get revenge on fellow members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, isn’t who I am going to turn to for the decisive historical account of the American slave trade.

Maybe that’s what people were expecting, but as a long time Tarantino fan, I didn’t go into the film expecting “Roots.” I went in expecting a lot of blood, casual use of the N-word, and more blood. If you aren’t a fan of Tarantino, then it’s probably no surprise that you aren’t a fan of “Django,” and that’s cool.

So I hope we can all agree that Quentin Tarantino is famously self-important and that can be frustrating when he makes a film set in 1858 Mississippi. Like I said, I’m a long time fan, and while I find his movies fun, they aren’t supposed to be making important statements about the meaning of life, past or present.

And people say feminists don’t have a sense of humor.

Image via.

Related: Women and revolutionary violence in The Battle of Algiers and Inglourious Basterds

Join the Conversation

  • scottishtanningsecrets

    Good to know this movie is better than trailers and interviews make it appear.

  • http://feministing.com/members/amanita/ Amanita

    She didn’t say it was better than trailers make it appear. She said she knew what to expect: blood, violence, and the N-word. Still sounds pretty f’ing awful to me, no matter what the topic. Tarantino is a bozo who culls pop culture for the bulk of his work.

  • http://feministing.com/members/jhaymaker/ Jessica H.

    I did not read anything QT said about the movie before I went and saw it and I still think it’s extremely problematic. What Django IS, is a movie made by a white guy with a borderline obsession with Black culture (who has made racially problematic movies in the past) with an egregious indifference for the implications of showcasing extreme violence against slaves of a movie set in pre-civil war time when the writter/director is dripping in and oblivious to his own white privilege. It’s not just “frustrating when he makes a film set in 1858 Mississippi,” (although it would be nice to be that flippant about the portrayal of race in movies)–what IS frustrating is how quick we all are to jump to QT’s defense. Let’s just say, for instance, that QT had made a movie with a leading (probably white character) female character that also contained 2-3 violently portrayed rape scenes. (Not that I’m equating racism to sexism or racial violence to sexual violence, although many of the same pillars sanction these). And when critics and feminists were upset about his lack of respect in creating those scenes, or questioned the necessity of parts of the scenes, or questioned his ability to recognize his own male privilege that is present in the script or the movie, QT just said something to the effect of “I made the movie because women are awesome. I like the culture of women.” I think we would all find this hypothetical situation problematic. To say the least. I know I would. Also, the 1975 movie”Mandingo” which Django’s script is supposedly loosely based off of, is also problematic.

  • http://feministing.com/members/jezcabelle/ Jessica

    For a better idea of what the film is like I would like to suggest plugging Django into IMDB and reading up on the movies featuring the characters by that name or with that in the title dating back to “Django” in 1966 thru “Sukiyaki Western Django” in 2007. Think spaghetti western thru Japanese riff on spaghetti western, Tarantino is involved so splash in more violence.

  • http://feministing.com/members/pygfan/ Sabrina

    I agree with you, Zerlina. At this point, everyone should know what they are in for when they go to a Tarantino movie. It isn’t a history lesson. In his last film, Inglorious Basterds, Hitler was killed and the Nazis defeated. In a movie house. I loved it. Tarantino makes bloody revenge fantasies, emphasis on fantasy, that are guaranteed to be offensive (politically, morally, etc.) in multiple ways. And Django has a long list of offenses (including the fact that Django is “trained” by his clever white mentor and Kerry Washington isn’t allowed to become a badass like so many of Tarantino’s female characters). BUT, I never look for political correctness in a QT film. Instead I got a visually stunning, gut-kicking movie about taking violent revenge on slaveholders. And a totally enthralling Jamie Foxx, whom I would love to see in a sequel along with Kerry Washington. Also, I appreciated the fact that the whole plantation sequence is like a horror movie, with the haunted house whose walls will soon be covered in blood. (And the Blazing Saddle references were very entertaining.)

  • http://feministing.com/members/anubisbaboon/ Shannon

    I just figured it was the typical Tarantino fare: Pick a movie genre, then relentlessly mock it while still making a good film. In this case, Django is a blaxploitation/Civil War drama combo platter.

  • http://feministing.com/members/budoinbatu/ budoinbatu

    It doesn’t sound like any of you have lived in the Southern United States. So your speculations are null and void.

  • http://feministing.com/members/deirdreannb/ Deirdre

    This comment may be a little unnecessary, but it’s Inglourious Basterds. That’s how the title is spelled, y’all. (Or misspelled, rather.)