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A Few Thoughts on Django Unchained

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    by Benjamin Woods

    There is no mystery to the appeal of Quentin Tarantino’s blockbuster film. “The enthusiastic response that Django has provoked from Africans demonstrates the desire for art that inspires a culture of resistance.”

     

    A Few Thoughts on Django Unchained

    by Benjamin Woods

    It is imperative that young African intellectuals and organizers familiarize themselves with Black art that has explicitly political objectives and emphasizes collective liberation.”

    Django Unchained is one of the most talked about films among Africans in the US. Any Hollywood film in which an enslaved African kills Europeans on screen is bound to generate a favorable response in the Black community. At the same time, Africans have developed an independent tradition of revolutionary art that stretches back to the antebellum period. Of course, the similarities among Black art over time are not the product of a metaphysical or unconscious influence but instead primarily represent similar responses to the same social environment.

    In fact, two antebellum novels share a similar plot with Django. In 1852, Frederick Douglass published The Heroic Slave. A novel about an enslaved African who attempts to rescue his wife from enslavement then leads a successful revolt on a slave ship. Although Douglass is often likened to a nineteenth century non-violent MLK, in fact, he advocated armed rebellion in his speeches, this novel, and flirted with emigration to Haiti in 1860.

    A few years later, in 1861, Martin Delany published the novel Blake or the Huts of America. Blake is about an enslaved African who, after his wife is sold into enslavement in the Caribbean, organizes an armed Black revolution. In the course of his travels, he organizes freedom fighters in the US South, Western Africa, and the Caribbean. Remember both of these novels were written when slavery was the law of the land. What enterprising young Black filmmaker will make a movie based on these novels written by two of our greatest abolitionists? Only time will tell.

    Africans have developed an independent tradition of revolutionary art that stretches back to the antebellum period.”

    If enslavement could not stop the production of revolutionary Black art neither could legal American apartheid. In 1899, Pan Africanist author Sutton Griggs wrote the militant novel Imperium in Imperio. Imperium is about a secret underground Black organization. The novel climaxes when the organization decides to takeover the US navy and liberate Louisiana and Texas to form an independent Black state. To a large extent, Griggs and his work have been forgotten but his attempt to create a national Black literature lives on.

    The Black Power movement produced a cultural renaissance in creative expression that is still revered but has some overlooked aspects. The Lost Man (1969), Uptight (1969), The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973), The River Niger (1976) are all feature length films which include Black radical organizations engaged in armed shootouts with the police. For example, the entire film Final Comedown (1972), starring Billie Dee Williams, is an armed shootout with the pigs wherein the main character has flashbacks to show how society pushed him to become a revolutionary.

    The so called ‘blaxploitation’ period produced several films that could be considered revolutionary or reactionary. The film Boss Nigger, written and produced by a Black man, features a formerly enslaved Black Bounty hunter who arbitrarily makes himself sheriff of an all white town. The tagline of the film is “White Man’s Town, Black Man’s Law.” Hmmm, a Black bounty hunter who kills white people on screen…sounds eerily familiar.

    The enthusiastic response that Django has provoked from Africans demonstrates the desire for art that inspires a culture of resistance. Simultaneously, it is imperative that young African intellectuals and organizers familiarize themselves with Black art that has explicitly political objectives and emphasizes collective liberation. They are the vanguard of, not only the political, but the cultural revolution, as well.

    Benjamin Woods is a PhD candidate at Howard University. He can be contacted at benjaminwoods1(at)yahoo.com, or through his website FreeTheLand.
     

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    Haiti?

    Where did you get the information about Frederick Douglass considering immigrating to Haiti in 1860? After the failure of the John Brown raid in 1859, Frederick Douglass fled to Canada and then England to escape arreest as a co-conspirator but then returned in 1860 after one of his daughters died.  As, far as I know, Douglass never showed any incination of emigrating after returning to the United States, although, he did give support to the movement for emigration to Haiti.

    Nuff said... Great article.

    If they can say Spielberg's Lincoln flick is non-fiction, I'm calling Django non-fiction, as it is loosely based on people like John Brown, Madison Washington, Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Black British & Black Union troops etc.

    Now that Tarantino knows he can piss the system off AND make money, he should consider doing movies based on "Forced into Glory" Lincoln's White Dream by Lerone Bennett & "Negro Comrades of the Crown: African Americans and the British Empire Fight the U.S. Before Emancipation" by Gerald Horne.

    Here's Tarantino on Charlie Rose (PBS):

    What's Real-Deal RE 'Django', 'Lincoln' & 'The Abolitionists'?

    NOI Min Farrakhan said he suspects 'Django' true purpose is preping &/or inciting whites for race-war. Taking Farrakhan's point into consideration, IMO that is likely NOT the main reason why Holly-weird released "Django". Holly-weird is in the BIZ to make $$$, by pushing certain images [illusions] & propaganda / myths.

    So why was {San}Quentin on the QT picked to make Holly-weird's most significant movie on slavery since at-least 'Amistad' if not 'Roots'? Why not Spike Lee, John Singleton [what ever happened to him], the Hughes Bros, Bill Duke, etc??? IMO QT was picked because Holly-weird knew he would turn slavery into a signature QT film IE: graphic violence, QT style humor in combo w a very 'liberal' use of NIGGER in his dialogue!!! They knew QT would get Samuel Jackson on board which would then help draw other Black actors [will smith uhm that's Jamie Foxx] to ensure a significant Black audience- who would be key for "Django's" validation. Then he needed a well known white actor [DiCaprio] for cross-over appeal [it turns out that the white German Dude {Chris Waltz} is 'Django's" real star- cause only he got an Oscar nomination]. 

    But beyond econ / demographic & logistic issues, IMO based on reports & reviews I've read 'Django' represented a revenge fantasy for Blacks & even had a so-called 'liberating' effect for some whites. Yet IMO its an improper response that a serious movie about slavery should feel 'liberating' for whites, They should feel appalled, ashamed, remorseful, obligated, etc [how many folks who've seen 'Shindlers List' said that they it made them feel 'liberated']. As for Blacks 'feeling' cathartic by watching this on-screen revenge fantasy of seeing a 1/10,000 'Django's' getting some 'Big Pay-Back' for slavery [except he did NOT do it for the fight against slavery but to get his wife back]- IMO at this point the power elites are A-OK w Blacks 'feeling' cathartic by watching an A-Historical QT film set 155yrs ago as a $$making$$ distraction from the on-going  struggle against white-supremacy / systemic racism, US-NATO military imperialism, Wall St Banksterism & Global Neo-Liberal Disaster Capitalism we're faced w till this very DAY!!!

    Furthermore 'Django' can't be divorced from the fact that it was timed to come out w Spielberg's 'Lincoln' & PBS' 'The 'Abolitionists'. Multi-Oscar nominated 'Lincoln' [IMO will likely almost sweep the Academy Awards ala 'Ben-Hur'] was timed for the 150th anniversary of the so-called 'Emancipation Proclamation' [NOT!] & perpetuates the myth that Pres Lincoln was: Blacks folks so-called 'Great Emancipator', an abolitionist [NOT!], saw Blacks in general as equals [NOT!], saw the Civil War from the get-go as a moral fight against slavery [NOT!]. But just as if not more problematic is-Spielberg & his collaberators picked a final 'white-washed' script for 'Lincoln' that literally scrubbed Fredrick Douglass [as well as all other Black Abolitionist / Freedom-Fighting-Soldiers of that era] from 'liberal' icon Spielberg's so-called 'Historical Epic'. Thus giving the false impression that Blacks just sat around waiting for some white 'Jesus-Savior' types politicians like Lincoln & Thaddeus Stevens- to give our ancestors freedom like some kind of X-Mas gift [Note: Curiously even white socialist web-site WSWS raves about 'Lincoln' as it disses Michell Alexander's book 'The New Jim Crow' as Black bourgeois 'liberalism']. PBS so-called 'historical' documentary 'The Abolitionists' apparently reinforces this Myth. Though it does speak about Fredrick Douglass [IMO his impact on the movement is to big & well known to completely ignore] it's main focus is on white abolitionists IE: William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Angelina Grimke & John Brown. But folks should know that Douglass had several important Black contemporaries in the fight against slavery IE: Harriett Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Martin Delaney, Robert Smalls, etc. AND- Unlike most white abolitinists [except Brown] Tubman, Delaney & Smalls literally risked their lives freeing slaves! Tubman was THEE Face of the 'Under-Ground Rail-Road' [to freedom] & served as a Union intel source during the Civil War- while Delaney & Smalls were actually Union officers! Unlike John Brown's failed Harpers Ferry raid, Robert Smalls actually succeded in the daring commandeering of a Confederate gun-boat & sailed it to the Union lines.

    Thus IMO the lame-stream message that so-called 'Liberal' Holly-weird is projecting is clear, that Blacks should give all praise to so-called white saviors ala 'Ole {dis}Honest Abe' for our freedom [NOT!], as they erase Black freedom fighters from history, or give us A-Historical BIG $$making$$ 'spoof' tales as 'cathartic' dis-tractions- ala QT's 'Django'!!!  

    And What's the Real-Deal RE 'Argo' & '0-Dark-30' [& 'Flight too]

    Now that we've talked about 'liberal' Holly-weird nominated [hyped] 'Lincoln' vs 'Django' what about 'liberal' Holly-weird nominated [hyped] 'Argo' & '0-Dark-30' [& also 'Flight'- all 5 films are Oscar nominated w all but 'Flight' nominated for best picture].

    IMO Argo is about the on-going demonization campaign vs Iran, while assuring Americans that US 'ingenuity' can out-do  Iranian so-called 'aggression' [NOT!]. 'Argo' also effectively justifies Obama's on-going Economic warfare on Iran, & may ultimately justify an unprovoked attack on Iran due to its still non-existent nuke-weapons prog.   

    0-Dark-30 is about 1} Convincing the public that the 'official conspiracy theory' RE the 9-11 'New Pearl Harbor' event & May 2011 official killing off of the 'Phantom Menace' bin Laden 'Legend'  on May 1, 2011- are valid. 2} Justifies for the public that the CIA's so-called 'extreme interogation techniques' [= TORTURE] as valid & the key to extracting 'intel info' allegedly used to find their 'Phantom Menace' [Bin Laden]. This of course is totally bogus, torture is NOT reliable for getting good info / intel- but it is effective in extracting false confessions!!! 3} Justifying the on-going phony so-called 'War on Terror' [= War on Muslims]! 4} Showing a woman CIA agent as its heroine- as a nod to lame-stream feminism that hypes the likes of Hitlery / Killary Clinton & Meryl Streeps Oscar for portraying Maggie [Iron Maiden] Thatcher! [IMO You can find the best analysis of '0-Dark-30' @ Global Research Article: 'Hollywood’s Waterboard: Review of the CIA’s “Zero Dark Thirty” @ www.globalresearch.ca/hollywoods-waterboard-review-of-the-cias-zero-dark-thirty/5319028?print=1 ]

    FYI: A couple of yrs ago a movie was released ['Rendition'] that criticized the CIA's use of torture in their phony 'War on Terror'. BUT It received NO Holly-weird nominations [hype] & was panned / ho-hummed by most lame-stream so-called 'liberal' movie critics!

     

    PS: 'Flight' is about depicting a veteran Black air-line pilot, who should have it made- none-the-less- as a- Drunk / Dope-Fiend / Dead-Beat Dad who leaves his Black wife & son -&- then shacks up w a white woman junkie!  [Wow Denzel- How'd you fall for that one?]! So even when Holly-weird shows a Brother w a well-paying career, they still turn him into a F-Up- both on the job & in life! [IE: an irresponsible father]!

    Coincidence?

    Obama to swear in on Lincoln [the racist] Bible...

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2013/01/10/obama-inaugural-bible-k...

    Deliver State of the Union on Lincoln [the racist] Birthday, Feb 12...

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-deliver-state-union-lincolns-b...

    Oscars to award LINCOLN [the racist] best picture on Feb 24?

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/entertainment2/55605665-223/lincoln-linings...

    Of Course That's NO Coincidence- It's All Advanced Planning

    Feb 24 is typically the Presidents' Day holiday [Washington & Lincoln were born in Feb] & it just so happens to be so-called 'Black History Month'. 

    IMO Holly-weird only allowed {San}Quentin on the QT's spoof-revenge flick 'Django' [w slavery as its back-drop]- to be released as a distraction, because of 'Spielberg's'  allegedly more seriously 'historical' 'Lincoln' was also released. 'Lincoln' was about making whites feel good about America's [R2P] 'magnanimity' while keeping Blacks believing in the 'Great White Hope / White Savior' syndrome.

    IMO Obama is like Lincoln in so many ways. Lincoln spent the first 2 yrs of the Civil War trying to cut a deal w the Confederate Dixie-crats which would allow them to keep slavery if they just ceased their rebellion against the US' [= his] FED Gov't. The so-called 'Emancipation Proclamation' reflected this & until he signed it, his policy was for his Union forces to return escaped slaves back into slavery.  

    In many ways Obama acts just like Lincoln vis-a-vis FOX Noise type Repugs, by always bending over backwards trying to accomodate [make a so-called 'Grand Bargain'] w them even as they continuously insult him & even declared their mission was to make his presidency a FAILURE! BUT- There's One BIG Difference: Lincoln had those Radical-Republicans from his own GOP party, that kept blasting the Dixie-crats for their insurrection & kept criticizing Lincoln for his 'accomodations' to Confederate Dixie-crats -&- together w the abolitionist movement kept pressuring Lincoln to abolish slavery- insteading of accomodating those rebellious Dixie-crats! 

    Returning runaway slaves.

    What do you mean, " so called" Black History Month? I am pretty sure that you are wrong about Lincoln having a policy to return escaped slaves back to their masters before the Emancipation Proclamation. Benjamin Butler was refusing to return Confederate Slaves and claiming that they were contraband of war as early as May 1861, before the Battle of Bull Run. That policy was never rejected by Lincoln and thousands of slaves fled behind Union lines during the first two years of the war. Congress passed and Lincoln signed the Confiscation Acts of 1861 and 1862 authorizing the confiscation and then freeing of slaves belonging to rebels. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confiscation_Acts

    Congress passed an act in March 1862 forbidding the military from returning escaped slaves to their masters.

    Lerone Bennett Says Lincoln No Abolitionist & Forced Into Glory

    Lincoln was first & foremost a Politician & Lawyer- NOT an Abolitionist. From Wikipedia: } In 1842, Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd, daughter of a prominent slave-owning family from Kentucky [Her Father was one of the biggest slave-traders in KY- Which explains why Lincoln effectively prolonged the Civil War by vacillating over the KY issue- which was also the place of his birth.]... 
    - During the 1858 debates with Stephen Douglas, Lincoln expressed that he believed whites were superior to Blacks & stated he was against  miscegenation and Blacks serving as jurors... 
    - Lincoln was politically attacked as an abolitionist, but he did not consider himself to be one; & thus he did not call for the end of slavery everywhere in the U.S. until the proposed 13th Amendment of 1864-65 [FYI: that's 2 yrs AFTER the so-called 'Emancipation Proclamation']...
    - Lincoln was a driving force in 1861 for the compromise Corwin amendment. It would have explicitly prohibited congressional interference with slavery in states where it already existed. The Corwin amendment was a late attempt at reconciliation, but it also was a measure of reassurance to the slave-holding border states [IE: KY] that the federal government was not intent on taking away their rights [RE: slavery]. 

    The Emancipation Proclamation enabled African-Americans, both free Blacks and escaped slaves, to join the Union Army.  190,000 volunteered, further enhancing the numerical advantage the Union armies enjoyed over the Confederates. During the Civil War, sentiment concerning slaves, enslavement and emancipation in the United States was divided. In 1861, Lincoln worried that premature attempts at emancipation would mean the loss of the border states, and that "to lose Kentucky [the home state of his slave-trading in-laws & of his birth] is the same as to lose the whole game." Many of Lincoln’s contemporaries were initially opposed to emancipation, but eventually accepted it as part of the total war strategy needed to ‘SAVE The Union’.

    At first, Lincoln reversed attempts at emancipation by Secretary of War Simon Cameron and Generals John Fremont (in Missouri) and David Hunter (in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida) to keep the loyalty of the border states and the War Democrats. Lincoln warned the border-states that a more radical type of emancipation would happen if his gradual plan based on compensated emancipation and voluntary colonization [refers to Lincoln's notions of shipping all freed Blacks overseas but was abandonded   due to difficult & expensive logistics] was rejected. 

    - At the beginning of the war, LINCOLN PROHIBITED His Generals from FREEING SLAVES EVEN IN CAPTURED CONFEDERATE Territories driving home the point that Lincoln was NOT an abolitionist & Nor was that his original aim for the Civil War]. On Aug 30, 1861, General John C. Frémont, the commander of the Union Army in St. Louis, proclaimed that all slaves owned by Confederates in Missouri were free. Lincoln thinking that such actions could induce slave-owners in border states to oppose the Union or even start supporting the Confederacy, demanded Frémont modify his order and free only slaves owned by Missourians actively working for the South. When Frémont refused, he was replaced by 'conservative' General Henry Wager Halleck... Radical Republicans such as William Fessenden of Maine and Charles Sumner supported Frémont. Fessenden described Lincoln's action as "a weak and unjustifiable concession to the border states". - The situation was repeated in May 1862, when General David Hunter began enlisting Black soldiers in the occupied district under his control. Soon afterwards Hunter issued a statement that all slaves owned by Confederates in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina were free. Despite the pleas of Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln ordered Hunter to disband the Black 1st South Carolina Regiment and to retract his proclamation... 

    -.Lincoln advocated that slave owners be compensated for emancipated slaves. On March 6, 1862 Lincoln in a message to Congress stated that emancipating slaves would create economic "inconveniences" and justified compensation to the slave owners. On July 12, 1862 Lincoln in a conference with Congressmen from KENTUCKY, MD & DE [2 slave states that stayed w the Union] and MO encouraged that their states adopt emancipation legislation that gave compensation to the slave owners [All of these acts add up to Vacillation & Appeasement of slave-owners- especially from Kentucky- the state of his birth & home of his slave owning / dealing In-Laws.]... 

    "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some while leaving others still in slavery- I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union." - Abraham Lincoln, Aug 22 1862 in a letter to the NY Tribune's Horace Greeley. { - With the Emancipation Proclamation Lincoln pursued the 3rd option, declaring slaves to be theoretically 'emancipated' in Confederate states which remained in rebellion to his authority, while keeping slavery intact in states that remained loyal to the Union [IE: DE & MD and W.Virginia]. 

    }The Confiscation Acts were laws passed by the US Congress during the Civil War with the intention of freeing the slaves still held by the Confederate forces in the South.

    The First Confiscation Act of 1861 authorized the confiscation of any Confederate property by Union forces ("property" included slaves). This meant that all slaves that fought or worked for the Confederate military were freed whenever they were "confiscated" by Union troops. The bill passed in the House 60-48 and in the Senate 24-11. The act was signed into law by President Lincoln on August 6, 1861.

    The Second Confiscation Act was passed on July 17, 1862. It stated that any Confederate official, military or civilian, who did not surrender within 60 days of the act's passage would have their slaves freed [So what about slave-owners who were NOT 'officially' Confederate Officials?] . However, this act was only applicable to Confederate areas that had already been occupied by the Union Army. All slaves that took refuge in Union areas were "captives of war" and would be set free.

    Though Abraham Lincoln opposed these acts, believing that they would push the border states towards siding with the Confederacy, he nonetheless signed them into law [IMO He suspected if he vetoed it would likely have been over-ridden & could have even sparked a revolt in his own party, & thus possibly led to calls for his impeachment -Because- Consider the Timing: The 1st Confiscation Act went into effect in Aug-Sept 1861. This was the same time-period that Lincoln sacked Gen Fremont for freeing all slaves in MO. The 2nd Act came as a direct result of Lincoln rescinding Gen Butler's order freeing Confederate slaves in FL, NC & GA.].

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