I’ve recently watched Quentin Tarantino’s latest gore fest DJANGO UNCHAINED, and as much as I hate to admit it, I really enjoyed the flick. I’ve only ever disliked the Q-Man’s (as I affectionately termed him) films based on the media’s reaction, which is overwhelmingly positive, and tends to over-hype the movies far in advance, but I genuinely liked this one. That’s not to say there weren’t occasional determinants to the narrative, but nothing too disturbing and “suspension of disbelief” shattering.
Now, if you weren’t aware, there’s a great deal of controversy surrounding this flick. It’s created a romantic spectacle of slavery and those involved in it, a touchy subject which has drawn the ire of social activists around the world. They would claim that Django exploits this time in history, those involved, and commercializes the murder and enslavement of millions of people… and I would agree with them.
Though, in that case, what Big Studio historical flick doesn’t romanticize the past? We can look at Quentin Tarantino’s own back catalogue for another movie that exploits a terrible time in humanity: Inglourious Basterds. A revenge film about American (and European) Jews murdering hordes of NAZIs. Sounds kinda like Django’s own vengeful narrative, doesn’t it?
There are certainly heavy issues embed in both, with Django being the most relevant since America continues to battle its tides of racism (I would claim anti-semitism is relevant, but that is more pertinent in Europe and the Middle-East), but these films are nothing more than spectacle. Sure, we can point at curious tropes that have been abused in movies past, most importantly the misrepresentation of Black Culture and individuals therein, and compare their use in Tarantino’s newest outing, but there’s nothing blatantly vile in depicting a time period. Specifically, there’s nothing terrible about filming a liberated slave shoot the brains out of slave owners. That’s not as fantastical and anachronistic as it may seem.
So, when the Weinstein company licenses 70′s style action figures for adult collectors, and they’re hit with a massive backlash, I don’t really see the point. These aren’t toys meant for 7 year olds. They don’t have hand cannons or water guns in their palms. They’re recreated with 70′s genre films in mind, for adult novelty collectors.
Also, remember that the biggest call to arms is from Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. I wouldn’t want to say that he hasn’t accomplished any good in his life, but a great deal of his objections are meant to stir up media coverage (like joining Ann Coulter on this ‘news’ show or inciting violence against Jews). In any case, this is what his organization had to say:
“Selling this doll is highly offensive to our ancestors and the African American community,” Rev. K.W. Tulloss, NAC’s president in Los Angeles, told the Daily News. “The movie is for adults, but these are action figures that appeal to children. We don’t want other individuals to utilize them for their entertainment, to make a mockery of slavery.”
If these were slave dolls actually marketed to young children, they’d have a fair point, but as Topless Robot pointed out, they’re collectible figurines for the adult market. No Mountain Dew gulping, booger picking, XBOX Live addicted kiddo wants a plushy 70′s style doll.
They don’t. I’ve been a geeky, booger picking kiddo, and if the toy didn’t have a lightsaber or stretchy limbs, I wasn’t buying!
They’ll only ever sell these at collectible stores (i.e. Comic Shops), where old, bearded, terribly groomed man children will purchase them, placing them right in between their $120 Iron Man Mark I bust and their wax buffed Hans Landa Doll (who happens to be the Jew Hunter from Basterds… a more offensive doll if you ask me).
I don’t think Quentin Tarantino is without his faults, and neither are his movies. They fall into the same tropes that have plagued Hollywood for years, most recently with the slave liberating German, King Shultz, but there are thousands of delicate social issues embed in every film and their associated merchandise. Though, unless the particular title is a riotous call to arms or overt propaganda, I don’t think these points provide for anything other than an interesting discussion during a round of drinks (preferably Pappy Van Winkle bourbon… neat).
What do you have to say about the matter?