The Misperception of Django Unchained

To those who have not yet watched the 2012 enigma that is Django unchained, I must forewarn you with a “spoiler alert.” It is not whatever your preconceived notions have contrived it to be. You see, Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington and the film’s trailers would have you believe it is an action-packed, serious tale of slave retribution and black love restoration. And they were almost right. But, there’s one not so little detail they forgot to mention and that’s the film’s comedic relief.

Why is comedy problematic?

When I first heard the premise of Django Unchained I thought it was a great idea. I, myself, dreamed of an amazing tale that people in America do not get to see too often, if ever. There I was, imagining that we – black people – would finally have a film that seriously represented the retribution we so eagerly lust for every time we think about our ancestors’ struggles in America and the hundreds of years of pain, dehumanization, servitude, and death they were forced to endure. And I am certain many black people and others imagined a similar thing. But, it seemed our hopes of a “serious” movie that would redeem us was muddled. Comedy in Django Unchained is problematic because its comedic relief is so apparent at times that it detracts from the brutality and seriousness of the era and the strict adversity black people in the Antebellum South were challenged with.

Deception creates Misconception

During the incessant promo and Jamie Foxx interviews we were never given a glimpse nor told about the comedy in the film. I would go as far as to say the movie was portrayed – by Jamie Foxx, other cast members, the director and the movie trailers – as an amazing, “serious” action film. We – the general public – were made to believe that Django Unchained was a must see movie. Some people even told me they thought it was going to be the next “Roots” or “Rosewood” and that was all because of the way the movie was promoted especially to the black demographic. And I feel that it was this deceptive promo that really upset people when they actually saw the film for what it was. They entered the theater expecting one thing and experienced another.

After watching the film I really began to think about every aspect, every perspective, and every minute of the movie. And after conversing with others and really obtaining a grasp on what the movie is, I came to the realization that with all of its grandiose promo, the comedy within the film and the deceptive marketing for the film downgrades it from what could have been a classic film to a head exploding, slap-kneed action-comedy.

To make light of numerous serious situations it seems that Tarantino adds comedy in an effort to make “certain” people feel more comfortable about the tribulations of America’s oppressive past. With that said, and without delving too deep into the ills of the country’s dark past, allow these final words to resound in your temporal lobe.

Words for the yet-to-have-seen

Although when holding Django Unchained under a microscope, it actually is a complex story with complex themes and undertones, I ask that before you watch it you take it at face value and watch it for what it is: a movie directed by a white male, portraying his conceived alternate reality with an emphasis on fictional characters and fictional actions purely for entertainment purposes. To try to use our non-fictional slave history in America as a frame of reference while viewing this film will only prove to be foolish and disheartening and will more than likely upset you, as I saw with so many black people during the movie and after it ended. And even with my criticism of the film, I can say without bias that it served its central purpose: it was entertaining. Now, the grander question we must ask each other and ourselves is, “Have we come so far from the slave era that it is acceptable for Hollywood and the film industry to make entertainment/fun/light of America’s slave past? Think about it and reply to the question if you feel moved to and thanks for reading.

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