Thursday, October 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

‘Django’ puts U.S. society under microscope

By
From page A7 | January 15, 2013 |

During an interview with public radio host Terry Gross, Quentin Tarantino suggested that his new film about American slavery, “Django Unchained,” is in the tradition of the spaghetti western, with a mix of stylized humor and the fantastic feats of a blaxploitation superhero.

While all that is perhaps true, Tarantino uniquely captured the essence of the “peculiar institution.” He may have engaged in historical revisionism, but he made a bold statement about a moral stain that Americans, white and black, cannot easily discuss and lack the moral gumption to reconcile.

Many prominent blacks, most notably writer/director Spike Lee, hate “Django” and are boycotting it.

Speaking with Gross, Tarantino explained how westerns from different decades reflect the concerns of their times: “One of the things that’s interesting about westerns in particular is (that) there’s no other genre that reflects the decade that they were made or the morals and the feelings of Americans during that decade (more) than westerns. Westerns are always a magnifying glass as far as that’s concerned.

“The westerns of the ’50s definitely have an Eisenhower, birth-of-suburbia and plentiful times aspect to them. America started, little by little, catching up with its racist past by the ’50s, at the very, very beginning of (that decade), and that started being reflected in westerns. Consequently, the late ’60s have a very Vietnam vibe to the westerns, leading into the ’70s. And by the mid ’70s, you know, most of the westerns literally could be called ‘Watergate westerns,’ because it was about disillusionment and tearing down the myths that we have spent so much time building up.”

Assuming that Tarantino is correct, which of our current “morals” and “feelings” has he put under a magnifying glass in “Django”?

This is the era of Barack Obama, America’s first black president. His presidency has affected white people’s thinking on race, but it has affected blacks even more profoundly. Obama’s ascendency has forced most black people to become more self-conscious, perhaps more introspective about a host of complex intra-racial issues that circumscribed our enlightenment and upward mobility or stopped them altogether.

Many complex problems in contemporary black culture are played out in “Django.”

The most obvious is the conflict between the Uncle Tom and the authentic black, represented by the Samuel L. Jackson character, Stephen, and the Jamie Foxx character, Django, our hero who becomes a freed man. Unlike Stephen – whose only power derives from being loyal to his white slave master – Django owns himself and becomes more powerful after striking out on his own.

Blacks continue to play the film’s game of who’s the Uncle Tom and who’s the authentic African-American, who’s worthy and who’s unworthy. Remember that when Obama was beginning his first run for the White House, he was accused of not being “black enough,” someone who, if elected, would not place high priority on black problems.

The film also describes the issue of class and status among blacks, manifested in the differences between house slaves and field slaves. Django himself, riding a horse, wearing white man’s attire and speaking near-proper English, brings it all into sharp relief.

Most blacks immediately recognize the enduring problem of “colorism” in “Django”: black-on-black discrimination based on the lightness or darkness of one’s complexion. Colorism became a deep-rooted reality with the first generation of slaves, after white masters had sexual relations with black female chattel to produce a class of mulattoes who lived and worked in the Big House. These fairer-skinned slaves became a distinct group, the genesis of today’s black middle class.

You see class distinction everywhere in “Django.” Of course, Broomhilda, the hero’s wife and the source of his quest, is the fair-skinned and attractive Kerry Washington. Tarantino knows that a dark-skinned Broomhilda won’t elicit as much sympathy. Our light-skinned Broomhilda even speaks German.

And then there is Stephen, the loyal servant of the plantation master. He is as black as coal, both in character and skin color. He is the epitome of evil, more terrifying than his white master, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Tarantino has produced a haunting piece of entertainment. One of his subtexts puts a magnifying glass to contemporary black culture, and a lot of us don’t like it.

Bill Maxwell is a Tampa Bay Times columnist. Email bmaxwell@sptimes.com. 

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 3 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • richJanuary 14, 2013 - 3:52 pm

    What a bunch of scum that infests Hollywood. No wonder people hate them and their awful movies. Its so bad that hollywood hates Hollywood but the American people get blamed for it. If Spike Lee hates Quentin Tarantino then I'm happy. They both are horrible!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Danny BuntinJanuary 15, 2013 - 4:13 pm

    Django was a great movie. Spike Lee always likes to complain.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • richJanuary 15, 2013 - 6:22 pm

    Sorry Danny but I prefer more genteel and uplifting entertainment. I prefer Forest Gump than Natural Born Killers, Django or Pulp Fiction. Those moves are too violent and appeal to debased and puerile tastes---such bad taste.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Children run for the sake of running

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Suisun City streets: Better than Vallejo, worse than Dixon

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
60th Air Mobility Wing gets outstanding unit award

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

Real McCoy ferry to shut down Thursday

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Nairobi, oldest giraffe at Six Flags, dies

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Day of Remembrance focuses on domestic violence prevention

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
 
Audubon group to offer wetlands walk, bird workshop

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A4

 
 
Trailer rolls, knocks down pole, damages roadway

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A4

 
Bridge to Life gets extension for temporary kitchen

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5

Pumpkin bob set at Fairfield city pool

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5

 
Fairfield police log: Oct. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Oct. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Canada’s PM says shooting rampage was terrorism

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Davis votes to return armored vehicle

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Study looks at lane splitting in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
125 San Francisco inmates to get computer tablets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California malpractice cap generates big spending

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Huge gold nugget going up for sale in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Healdsburg bans tobacco sales to anyone under 21

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
AP-GfK Poll: Public wants tighter Ebola screening

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Key features of rigorous new US Ebola monitoring

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Goofy dinosaur blends Barney and Jar Jar Binks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Social Security benefits get another tiny increase

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
US to track everyone coming from Ebola nations

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Teens’ travel renews concerns about terror appeal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Blackwater guards found guilty in Iraq shootings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Methodist panel hears appeal over gay wedding

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Analysis: Fowle was North Korea’s easiest US case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

UK man faked coma for 2 years to avoid court

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Missile, fire from Egypt wounds 2 Israeli troops

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Mexico: Mayor linked to deadly attack on students

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Nigeria truce is shaky, no news of abducted girls

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Iraqi Kurdish lawmakers OK fighters for Syria

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Prisons agree to end race policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

 
Don’t make this mistake after voting

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A11

Editorial Cartoons: Oct. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
Living a Democrat PC nightmare

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

Real reason to vote yes on 46

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
Keck did good job researching issue

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Horoscopes: Oct. 23, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

My husband visits dating sites, stays out until 3 or 4 a.m.

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
‘SNL’ adds black woman to cast from writers room

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

NBC promoting Weir, Lipinski to top skating team

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Annie Lennox embraces jazzy ‘Nostalgia’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Renee Zellweger: ‘People don’t know me in my 40s’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Sax player behind ‘Baker Street’ solo dies at 60

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

AP source: Goodell told to testify in Rice appeal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Kings measuring success on ‘wins and losses’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Giants’ bullpen melts down in 7-2 loss to Royals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors hoping Kerr is final piece for title run

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Local Report: Armijo XC teams finish MEL 10-0

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Carr confident despite Raiders’ winless start

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Phony World Series tickets, merchandise seized

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Request denied to remove judge on Peterson case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Probe: UNC academic fraud was ‘shadow curriculum’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
World Series rating for opener drops to low

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Beaten Giants fan shows significant progress

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Polian, Wolf nominated for Pro Football Hall of Fame

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Slumping Bears hope to slow No. 6 Oregon, Mariota

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Stanford picked to win Pac-12 regular-season crown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NBA owners fail to pass lottery reform

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Leafs-Senators game postponed after shootings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Brad Keselowski not concerned with popularity

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
SHR swaps crews for Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

From Mexico to the World Series, Petit Giants’ shines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
’85 World Series Royals relishing playoff run

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
This date in sports history for Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Business

FedEx, UPS make plans for a better holiday season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
The top 20 US cities for tech startup funding

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

‘Silicon Beach’ brings tech boom to Los Angeles

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Government ups air bag warning to 7.8M vehicles

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Camel maker Reynolds snuffs out workplace smoking

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
BofA to refund Apple Pay customers charged twice

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Google unveils app for managing Gmail inboxes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
.

Obituaries

Dr. Robert M. Takamoto

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Mark Dean Lindsay

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Keith Bowen

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Blanche Stevens

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9