Donald Bowers/Getty Images for The Weinstein C
(L-R) Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx and Quentin Tarantino attend "Django Unchained" Press Conference in NY with Director/Screenwriter Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Don Johnson, And Jonah Hill at Ritz Carlton Hotel on December 16, 2012 in New York City.
Quentin Tarantino’s newest film “Django Unchained” has many of the elements fans and critics expect from Tarantino: a revenge plot Western heavy with bloodshed and a killer soundtrack. The twist in this film, set just before the Civil War, is that the hero Django is a freed black man who takes his revenge against the entire institution of slavery.
For some audiences, the brutality of slavery, and its echoes in racial discrimination through the present, makes Django unwatchable. Director Spike Lee has refused to see it. Some black critics—even among those who enjoyed elements of the film—were troubled by it. Whether it was Tarantino as a white director making a movie that deployed the “n” word over 100 times, images of torturous violence perpetrated against enslaved characters or the gleeful revenge enacted upon white villains and bystanders alike, viewers might be disturbed by many moments in the film. Still others see nothing wrong, noting that plenty of directors have made films about slavery that dodge its gruesome reality.
If you’ve seen “Django Unchained,” were you offended by the violence? Or did it seem like an artistic treatment of a brutal time? Are you or any one you know boycotting the film?
Joe Hicks, Vice President of Community Advocates, Inc.; former Executive Director of the L.A. City Human Relations Commission
Tim Cogshell, film critic for KPCC and Box Office Magazine
Henry Sheehan, film critic for KPCC and dearhenrysheehan.com