Django Decolonized- PNN ReViewsFortheReVoluTion
The current wite-man production Django Unchained opens with the camera’s "gaze" focused on the scarred backs of our Afrikan ancestors walking, shirtless, in a moonlit night. The scars are a cheap cinematic device meant as a visual reference to the violence of chattel slavery. This was a mere Tarantino footnote barely intended for a fleeting glance by the distracted movie goer. But these kinds of images cut my heart in half with a sharp edge razor. With each scar moving in the filmic moonlight I heard the songs, tears, cries, screams, flesh and blood of so many unseen, always remembered, victims, survivors and spirits of the horror story known as chattel slavery in Amerikkka. Which is why Tarantino had no business making this movie.
The horrible image of their scarred flesh had another unintended impact, as a metaphor for the media and media-makers who exploit the descendents of slavery in movies like Django. Considering Tarantino was assuming a stance of hipster alternative meets spaghetti western Tarantino style - where almost anything is supposedly possible the truly “alternative” opening shot would have been with a camera gaze resting on the backs of a shirt-less, whip-scarred witeman- the backs upon whom the legacy of torture and the profit of chattel slavery and its sickness should be held-with reparations, anger and action- but this was a rich wite man produced movie and so the Afrikan man held the burden once again.
After the opening credits, we see these are enslaved ancestors in leg irons walking shoeless through a desert. Within minutes, an eccentric wite-man, Christopher Waltz shows up to "save" the day, calling upon the embodiment of centuries of settlement workers/social workers/non-profiteer saviors who arrive in an empire/capitalist created setting of oppression and profit to "save" the very people they have been complicit in the destruction of.
Through the agenda of the eccentric, German settler/colonizer played by Christopher Waltz, one of our tortured and brutally enslaved ancestors played by Jamie Foxx, is "freed" by agreeing to a “deal” which is to murder people for hire. Without so much as a moment, the desperation of his and his families’ enslavement as a backdrop for the values he holds that might not jibe with murdering people, the Jamie Foxx character agrees, kill or be killed, seems to be the “deal”. Bringing up years of the prison industrial complex “deals” where a plea bargain is “offered” to a wite-supremacy defined “criminal” for their freedom. This saving also emulates the many social workers and agents of the non-profit industrial complex who provide service to peoples they profit from.
In a few more scenes we meet the cartoon character of “Stephan” Samuel l jackson. Played to comic perfection, complete with black-face make-up, Uncle Ben side-hair, and code-switching brilliance, his character is the personification of Amerikkkan hegemony. The genocidal power of hegemonies destruction of human compassion and agency is alive in Stephan, the father of the security guard industrial complex, the doorman, the probation officer, the warden, and the cop, he the recipient of so much genocidal hegemony as to make him the powerful defender of the system to which he is “owned”. Being called a wite-man’s property while he is actually runs the entire plantation and protects the brutality perpetrated on him and his brothers and sisters.
His character was played without nuance, one dimensionally horrible, reminding me of the security guard of color who might earn a whopping $8.00 per hour and yet believes that it is his proud duty to arrest and incarcerate one of his brothers or sisters if he is caught stealing a loaf of bread or the police officer of color who participates in the slaughter of young men and women if they happen to be walking, running, standing or living while black or brown in Amerikkka.
I believe in some ways his character was the most fleshed out because that kind of two-faced, duplicit evil is the backbone of the Hollywood plantation system. Rife with wite-supremacy, overt racism, rape, molestation, pedophilia, substance use, patriarchy and fetishization for hire. This is the world that killed Whitney, Marilyn and Corey Feldman, witened Michael Jackson and Jennifer Lopez and endlessly uses and throws away thousands of children and adults who you never see and never will hear from. It is the world you must live in and pretend to love, if you are Quentin Tarantino, Samuel Jackson and Jamie Foxx. I was born and raised there, was houseless and po’ there, mama was racialized and hated there and thank Creator, we barely got out, alive.
It must be said, that all the critiques about this movie are right- from an Afroc-centric perspective this movie is so wrong for so many reasons, but from a Hollywood, wite-supremacist entrenched and informed perspective, making any movie about slavery in Hollywood is not easy.
Quentin Tarantino is an artist, in that wite-man, shock for shock sake, nothing is sacred way that many of his ilk come from.. Believing his own hipster-mythos that he is “conscious” just because he hires people of color, and makes movies on subjects like Django, without even so much as a hint of reparations discussed. If he was truly “conscious” as he believes himself to be, he would have done all the phone calling, booshie lunch-having, pitch-making, and thought pimping necessary to do a movie centered on the issue of slavery in a wite-supremacist plantation system like Hollywood and then given it to a black film producer and director to make the movie. But he is not. And so we have, to paraphrase the writer Ishmael Reed, a film about wite-people who run the system reflected off of Afrikan people’s suffering.
Finally, in my humble opinion, beyond all else, what is wrong about this movie is the desecration of the spirit. The spirit of our sacred stories, our pain, our suffering and our resistance. When Spike Lee said it was disrespectful of our ancestors, he is right, these stories are our stories, this pain and this herstory is our pain, they do not belong to some spaghetti Western hipster interpretation, and to truly free our broken, exploited backs we must continue to resist the re-telling, re-writing, hipster conscious revisioning of our herstories,
After witnessing and living through as much pain as this mixed race daughter of a strong black Indian mama has, I have come to understand the depth of colonization and its disrespect of not only our collective backs, our hands, our stories and our lands, but most of all our spirits. That these colonizers whether they be the banksters, sheriffs, po’lice, the politricksters, the media-makers or the saviours, they ultimately use us and confuse us so that we don’t’ understand the crucial aspect of our own sacred. And that in that holding and protecting of our sacred is our healing and our teaching and our liberation. That our ancestors stories and lives and resistance efforts cannot be bought and sold and traded and lost through the endless exploitation they receive, that we must hold these stories to our chests, we must write these books and film these movies ourselves, and no arty, self-absorbed hipster wite-man can take them away from us. And the media colonization will continue only as long as we allow it.