Written by Jean Damu    Friday, 18 January 2013 06:06    PDF Print E-mail
Django Unchained: the pornication of Black history

Pornication- the use of sexually and/or morally obscene images or references in the process of intellectually raping and abusing a specific topic or general subject.

There is no denying a national debate has broken out with the recent release of Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s controversial revenge fueled spaghetti Western set within slavery times.

However, to date there has been little focus on the films’ near total emasculation of Black men and women and the totally perverse, racist ties of Black women to pornography.

Some have argued the Django conversation is meaningless, others that it has created a necessary dialogue on slavery. Still others say Django’s revenge and ultimate rescue of Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), Django’s (Jamie Foxx) enslaved wife portray Black masculinity rarely seen on the screen.

The Tarantino defenders apparently seem to think it is just a coincidence Django and Lincoln, Stephen Spielberg’s film on Lincoln’s efforts to pass the 13th Amendment, which theoretically abolished slavery, both appeared on the eve of the nation’s celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. In Hollywood where money is involved, there are no coincidences.  Therefore, it is foolish to analyze Django and not put it in political context.

Factually the film is so riddled with historical mistakes one would need a Best Buy catalogue to list them all.

The opening credit claims the story is set in 1858, “two years before the beginning of the Civil War.”  Actually the Civil War began in 1861. Lubbock, Texas, where the sought after Brittles gang was spotted wasn’t founded until 1890. Django’s sunglasses weren’t invented until 1929. Django’s six shot Colt revolver with metallic encased bullets wasn’t invented until 1875 and Django could not have been a slave trader in 1858 because the fugitive slave law of 1850 would have required federal marshals to arrest and re-enslave him.

The factual fictions continue but obviously historical accuracy was not high on Tarantino’s list as he lashed his post-production crew into action to get the film ready for a Christmas Day release per instructions from producer Weinstein Co. overseers.

The greatest fiction of all however, the big lie, if you will, is the backdrop to all of Django’s exploits-the contented, happy domestic and well-dressed field workers who occupy the plantations and the vast vacuous spaces of Tarantino’s mind. On Tarantino’s plantations simple minded enslaved African women contentedly play on a swing as one of their sisters is about to be whipped by a brute of an overseer. Of course Django is the only concerned one and shoots the overseer dead. All stand and cheer the hero Django.

Tarantino’s depictions of contented slave life could easily have been copied from the depictions on 19th Century confederate money that showed happy go lucky Blacks chopping cotton.

It’s all a lie and Tarantino, not a stupid person, knows it.

In fact, the antebellum South was one of the most militarized regions on the planet whose progeny, the right wing gun rights movement,is with us to this day. It was militarized in order to keep often rebellious enslaved Africans under lock and key.

Mostly this history has been hidden from the American people. In 1943 Herbert Aptheker published, American Negro Slave Revolts, the first serious reconfiguring of American history to take into account massive and widespread Black resistance to slavery before the Civil War.

The issue of white militia’s and slave patrols is important in southern history because the military became the economic base of non-slave owning white middle class; whites who had no access to economic activity within the slave economy other than the military. When the Civil War broke out 73 percent of the officer corps in the US Army resigned and joined the Confederacy. Therein is the key reason the Union was militarily incompetent during the early goings.

In Aptheker’s  antebellum South, Stephen L. Jackson’s “Stephen,” possibly the most vile and vicious black character ever portrayed on screen, most certainly would have died at the hands of his brothers and sisters.

Another controversial scene was the feeding of an enslaved African, who refused to continue fighting for sport, to the slave catchers’ dogs. Some question whether such a thing could have happened. Historically when slaves became too old to work or no longer possessed economic worth it could have happened. But in the context of this film that is not the point.

The point here, is that Django, attempting to pass himself off as a real slave trader, over rode the whites’ attempts to spare the man and demanded the slave be fed to the dogs, thus proving beyond all doubt, in Tarantino’s mind, Django was the real deal. This is Tarantino’s method of having his way with history, the script and Black folks in general.

Which brings us to Tarantino’s most egregious crime against Black culture; the linking of Black women to pornography.

Broomhilda, as most of us know by now, was Django’s enslaved wife (“she’s too pretty to be a field slave”)who had been raised enslaved by a German family and taught to speak German.

When Django finally locates Broomhilda we are first told she is a “comfort woman,” a term that never appeared in world history until WWII, when the Japanese military enslaved Korean women and forced them into prostitution.

Later at dinner plantation owner Calvin Candie’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) sister Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly (Laura Cayouette) sees Broomhilda staring at Django and says, “That pony seems to have eyes for Django.” Later Candie motions to Django and says, “That fellow is here to purchase a passel of ponies (so-called comfort women.”

After research into several private libraries, going through the indexes of numerous books on slavery times no mention or reference to Black women as ponies could be found.

An internet search regarding women as ponies did reveal, however, a number of pornographic websites that portray women on all fours referred to as ponies.

What are we to make of Tarantino’s description of Broomhilda as a pony?

In the first instance, to name Washington’s character after  Brunhilde, in Richard Wagners Ring Trilogy is a cruel joke, that by comparison belittles the Black Broomhilda.

Wagner’s Brunhilde was a shield carry, sword wielding warrior who rode horseback into battle. Far from Wagner’s Brunhilde, Washington’s Broomhilda says very little and exhibits no evidence of having suffered any pain. At films conclusion, when Django emerges from the fiery wreckage of Calvin Candie’s plantation, Broomhilda claps delightedly like a valley girl with blow dried brains whose Daddy has just handed her the keys to a new Porsche.

Comparing Wagner’s Brunilde to Tarantino’s Broomhilda is like calling your obese neighbor “Skinny.” It’s a cruel, immature and unnecessary joke. But if the screenwriter thinks his audience is so ignorant they won’t understand, well why not?

The more we learn about Tarantino the filmmaker and Tarantino the man the more we suspect as hypocritical his proposals of love and affinity for Black people and Black culture.

In the mid-1990’s, after the original director was fired Tarantino was hired to do remedial directors work on the 1995 film, Crimson Tide. A near brawl between himself and Denzel Washington ensued because Tarantino wanted Washington to use the N word repeatedly in the re-shooting of various scenes. Washington refused and prevailed but the feud between them lasted for years. Tarantino never apologized and dismissively responded when asked about it said, “He (Washington) should get over it. He can’t walk around like that forever.”

The racist arrogance of a young white film director to confront a Black megastar, as Washington was even then, was merely an early warning of the man’s resolute racism.

In Pulp Fiction Tarantino had Ving Rhames character, Marcellus, raped in a way that totally emasculated the Black hoodlum, not unlike the emasculation of most Black males in Django.

More recently in a series of interviews with Henry Louis Gates on the website Grio, Tarantino dismissed the TV drama Roots as “inauthentic.”  Once again the racist arrogance of a white man to decide what, within the film world, is authentic Black history and what is not smacks of someone who sees themselves above and apart from  Black America..

While Tarantino cashes in on Django, the Weinstein Company already having made its investment back and with Django action dolls on sale, Danny Glover struggles, searching the globe, trying to raise the money to tell the story of the Haitian revolution, a story Weinstein and Hollywood refuse to invest a nickel.

If Malcolm were alive no doubt he’d say, “We’ve been bamboozled!”

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