Sunday, January 06, 2013

Top Ten Reasons Why I Liked Django Unchained (Spoiler Alert!)

(Please note: This is the second trailer for Django Unchained. Enjoy!)

I don't think Spike Lee was wrong -- I want to honor my ancestors, too -- but I can't criticize a movie if I haven't seen it. And yet everyone has an opinion on Django Unchained.  I supposed that's understandable. It's been awhile since Roots had everyone glued to their televisions for a week. And then we wanted to talk about it. We wanted to find our roots.

As a nation, we are in dire need of a collective roundtable discussion about race. And for once, we really need to make it an honest one. Perhaps the success of this movie will trigger an avalanche of talks, documentaries, exhibits and yes, more films.  Nothing gets more movies made in Hollywood like a blockbuster. The more information, the better.  Anything to get the ball rolling.

I have way more than ten reasons as to why I liked Django Unchained.  These are the ones that floated to the surface initially.
  1. It's funny.  Needless to say, the most telling moments happen when white people stop laughing and black people can't stop cracking up. The white guy behind me was giggling quite freely until Django beat the brakes off of that white man with a bullwhip. 
  2. It's fiction. Of course, that won't stop people from treating it like a documentary. 
  3. It's about slavery in the United States -- something of which way too many Americans know very little. They certainly know even less about its atrocities.  And they seem to know less than nothing of the Black Holocaust.
  4.  It's got a black (ex)slave hero. The truth is, there were hundreds of thousands of Nat Turners, disrupting anything whenever they could. Where's that movie?
  5. It's got a black hero that's beating, whipping, maiming, shooting and killing a garden variety of insufferably racist, bigoted white people. I can't think of any black people that wouldn't want to see that. Repeatedly.
  6. It's got a loving, solid black marriage.  Yes, black people want to see that, too -- in any time period. Slaves fought desperately for their marriages -- and their children. It didn't start with the Huxtables.
  7. Believe it or not, the black hero's wife doesn't pass the paper bag test.  Shocking, right?
  8.  It's got a black hero that's focused on saving his black wife by any means necessary.  I don't know about you but I don't see very many leading men in filmdom going to the absolute limit for the love of a black woman.
  9. Maybe it's my recent forays into the Rhineland or the research that I'm doing about Germans in the (Antebellum) South but I loved the German references within the storyline. (Interestingly, my last name is German. More on that later.) And those filthy greedy Australians? That was just too perfect.
  10. It's got a beautiful ending: the black hero and his girl ride off into the sunset together. I remember seeing that and thinking, Why not? Why shouldn't they run off and be happy? At Harlem's Magic Johnson Theater, the audience stood up and cheered.'Nuff said.
Perhaps Dangerfield Newby is the "real" Django Unchained.  He tried to buy his wife Harriett and their 7 children out of slavery but when the agreed-upon price was abrubtly raised once he'd met it, he sought other means and joined John Brown's raiders at Harper's Ferry. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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