I read with great interest the Facebook trend-lines of conversations about writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s new movie Django Unchained. I found that most black people who saw the film and wrote about it on a Facebook trend-line seemed to like it. Nevertheless, there were varying opinions. Some thought the violence in the movie was overdone; other recognized the violence as a Tarantino trademark. Some people thought the word "nigger" was overused, while others thought its repeated usage authenticated the period and is also another Tarantino film characteristic.
I also found that opinions even formed along generational lines. Older African Americans tend to be offended by what they regard as a disrespectful exploitation of our holocaust, and some of them are refusing to see the film, based on word-of-mouth descriptions of it. Younger blacks seemed to have more acceptance of slavery as a proper subject matter for exploitation.
I suspect that this generational chasm exists because those blacks who lived through the Civil Rights period are more knowledgeable about racial oppression from a standpoint of personal involvement. The struggle for voters’ rights and basic civil rights gave them an intimate link to slavery. None of this is true for many African Americans born after the period of the movement; thus this cold and distant detachment from our past, which allows them this extravagant tolerance.
After seeing the movie for myself the first thing that came to mind was the wish that the Niggers" (and Wiggers) who see this movie have some kind of historical reference point from which to judge the movie. A slave (Jamie Foxx) is separated from his wife after a failed attempt to escape. On the trip to his new owner, Django is freed by a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) named symbolically Dr. King Schultz, and after spending a winter making some cash killing white outlaws, the two hook up to find Django’s wife (Kerry Washington) who is named Broomhilda and speaks German. They trace her to a plantation in Mississippi called Candyland ruled by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and overseen by a one-named old nigger named Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson).
Throughout the movie Django proves over and over again through the magic of the screenwriter’s pen that he is no ordinary Nigger. The movie is a farce; a feel-good absurdity of revenge, pulpy, revisionist and entertaining. It is not history, and though that is an obvious point, there will be some who will confuse it with the reality of slavery. So knowing something about slavery would give the viewer a proper perspective on the movie – knowing where to file this shit is important.