People are rightly criticized for criticizing movies they haven’t seen, so I won’t set myself up as a critic of Django, which I have not seen and don’t plan to see.
I don’t know, it’s just that I have seen the trailer and I find the whole enterprise, in miniature form there, so tedious, so faux-shocking, so pre-adolescent, so self-referential-into-a-cul-de-sac that I can’t get it up to spend the time on the long form.
I’ve been down this road before. I doubted that I really wanted to see Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds after those trailers but took the plunge, with later regrets, in those instances. Unless my curiosity or your comments get the better of me, though, not again.
This was not always the case with Tarantino ‘n me, for sure. I have to admit I really liked Pulp Fiction when it came out, though even then I had reservations about the content. Sure, the violence and the dialogue were both clever, but what works when challenging genre conventions doesn’t always work as well if it aspires to be victorious as a new genre. Every hero is, as they say, a bore at last.
A special exemption, IMHO, for Jackie Brown, which was earnest and honest in its throwbackness. But most of the rest I can do without.
Now, I am not going to criticize Django, as I said. But I will reference a little to-do over the use of the n-word in the film. It is used a lot, apparently, and Drudge has been making much of that fact in his unique fashion–i.e., not by saying anything directly but simply through the number and nature of linked articles. As a left-leaning journo on a Village Voice blog put it:
Drudge just puts the very fact out it there, apparently hoping that it illustrates two weary complaints of white conservatives: 1. That liberals are at best hypocritical and at worst the real racists; 2. That if white conservatives have to watch what they say, than everyone else does, too. The assumption is that Tarantino’s film is, by math, 100 or so times worse than, say, the Fox Nation commenter who just spews it once.
The blogger goes on to defend Tarantino, but he does so in an unusual way. He seems to want to make it out that Tarantino has some kind of Ken Burnsian obligation to history to use the word.
First, and most obviously, the film is set in a time when the word was, for white Southerners especially, practically a synonym for property. To not use it would have been the most distracting of compromises — a whitewash, if you will.
It also helps the the word gets the biggest workout from the leads: a former slave and a bounty hunter who deplores slavery.
This makes sense both in terms of plotting — the duo go undercover as slavers themselves in an effort to free Django’s wife from her own legal bondage — and in terms of verisimilitude.
Verisimilitude?! Did you ever think someone would resort to the v-word in discussing Tarantino? Is it really credible to maintain that using the word 100+ times in a Quentin Tarantino film is an effort to be respectful to history?
Ah, but I am not out to critique a film I have not seen. Perhaps I should see it. The Voice critic seems to think I should:
The film is complex, surprising, and somewhat great. Also, being Tarantino’s, it’s impossible to unpack sight unseen — or even after just one viewing.
Gee, I may have to see it more than once even. We will see. In the meantime, I remind myself of Confucius’ maxim: he who has tongue too firmly in cheek may find head up ass.