Django and House Negroes ..Is there a little Uncle Ruckus in All of Us?

Sam-Jackson Uncle ruckus

This man who was featured in the hit movie Django was so attached to the comforts and privileges afforded him that he was willing to fight harder than his master to maintain the status quo.

Maybe it was comfort in drinking the good liquor or being the HNIC…But he was riding hard against anything and anyone that might undue what he found comfortable..

Many of us laughed or reacted in disgust, with the general sentiment being we would never behave the way good ole Stephan did..We would never stand in the way of freedom.. We would never fight hard like this man to keep a system of oppression alive and well or so we say..

How is our enthusiastic and oftentimes ride or die, vehement support of individuals and institutions that carry out policies resulting in genocide and literal enslavement of people both here and abroad any different than the support demonstrated by this man who rode hard for Candyland?

How far removed from that reality are we really? In 2012 like or not, at the end of the day, especially when we look things from a global perspective, maybe there’s a bit of Stephan aka Uncle Ruckus in us all. We want Stephan to shed his master and Candyland while we stick with Iphones, expensive  basketball shoes, fancy clothes made from sweatshops, imperialistic politicians the list goes on..

 

Author Ishmeal Reed’s Review of Django

Ishmael Reed  photo credit Mark Costani

Ishmael Reed photo credit Mark Costani

I had a pretty good idea of where “Django Unchained” was going from the first credit. It went to the Weinstein Company. The Weinstein Company once fought a legal battle (settled out of court) over the right to distribute “Precious,” which is, in my opinion, the worst film ever made about black life. The company’s name in the credits for “Django” also meant that the movie was aimed at a mainstream audience.

Though German, the bounty hunter character played by German-Austrian actor Christoph Waltz seemed to speak with a British accent, which is all the rage in the media, though I need subtitles to understand what Piers Morgan is saying half the time. The German dentist dazzles the screen with his eloquent talk and vocabulary and puts together constructions like “shan’t.” I would loved to have been present at the marketing meetings about this movie. The cynicism must have been as thick as cigar smoke. Jamie Foxx has been promoted as the star of “Django Unchained,” and has assumed the role as movie defender–the same role played by Viola Davis in the promotion of the equally offensive “The Help.” Foxx serves as a buffer between the producers and the wrath of blacks like those who attended a recent showing where the film’s writer and director Quentin Tarantino reportedly faced hostile questions from a black audience.

The real stars of “Django Unchained,” however, are Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio is master of a plantation where Django’s wife Broomhilda (seriously), is being held, and has apparently been passed around among the “Mandingos” who are trained to participate in slave fights for the entertainment of DiCaprio and his friends. The movie’s “star,” Foxx, is there for the audience that used to sit in the balcony at southern movie houses. He performs in a movie within a movie. A sort of “Harlem On The Prairie.” This was an ingenuous bit of marketing. “Django” was the talk among blacks during two Christmas parties that I attended, lured to the screen because Foxx was featured in the promotion. One woman said that she couldn’t wait to see the movie, which reminded me of a comment from a book called “When Time Ran Out: Coming of Age in the Third Reich” written by author and artist Frederic Zeller, who said that when he went to the movies in Germany, his being youthful and lacking consciousness led him to applaud the Aryans (he escaped the country in the 1930s and his parents died in a Nazi death camp).

The middle of  “Django” showcases Waltz and DiCaprio. They engage in a lengthy dialogue which includes references to Beethoven and phrenology, during which Foxx’s Django alternates between scowling and looking completely dumbfounded by the civilized talk. The DiCaprio character believes that there are wrinkles in the brain that cause blacks to be docile. Tarantino’s fictional blacks apparently lack that part of the brain that makes one compassionate. While some blacks are being brutalized other blacks go about their business. In one scene, a black woman is being whipped while nearby a black woman is enjoying herself on a swing.

Foxx’s role in the movie is confined to frowning and murdering lower class whites who, in this film, seem to be responsible for all of the brutality during slavery, while the planters stand by helpless and embarrassed by one of their number, the lone psychopathic, who, like the Nazi played by Ralph Fiennes in “Schindler’s List,” revels in cruel misdeeds. In one scene after two blacks have engaged in a brutal fight leaving one dead, one of the fiendish slave master’s friends shows that he was really turned off by the exhibition and has to have a drink.

Continue reading…. http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/12/28/black-audiences-white-stars-and-django-unchained/

4 Movies You Should See & Know About Before You See Django that deal w/ Rebellion

There’s been a lot of chatter about the movie Django and how it touches upon slavery and the resistance to it..Lots of debates have sparked off talking about what’s accurate, what’s fantasy etc etc.. I say use this excitement around Django and the hype machine that director Quentin Tarantino has around him to turn folks onto other projects they may have overlooked, forgotten about or not seen at all..It doesn’t have to be an either or thing.. See ‘m all.. Contrast, compare and build..

SankofaOne film that is frequently mentioned is Sankofa by Haile Gerima  It’s a film that he said took more than 10 years to complete. Hollywood wasn’t interested in financing a movie about;

A self-absorbed Black American fashion model on a photo shoot in Africa is spiritually transported back to a plantation in the West Indies where she experiences first-hand the physical and psychic horrors of chattel slavery, and eventually the redemptive power of community and rebellion as she becomes a member of a freedom-seeking Maroon colony

There have been some who upon seeing the release of Django and its popularity have referenced Sankofa and asked why we didn’t support the painstaking efforts of film makers like Gerima who tried to give the Black community serious information about an institution that is constantly being written out or sanitized in our history books..

If you can’t rent the film here’s one of several copies on line..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gx0PAMOvnfw

Another film which is often mentioned is Spook Who Sat By the Door..by Sam Greenlee. It’s a landmark film that came out in the early 70s and was based upon a book with the same titled which was released in 1969.  Although this film isn’t about slavery, it’s about rebellion and fighting oppression which is whats attracting many to Django.

spook who satThe plot of Spook Who Sat by the Door goes as follows.. The CIA because of politics needs to recruit African-Americans to the agency. It’s supposed to be dog and pony show. In other words have Blacks try out for the agency, make it public, but have them fail. However, there was one guy, named Dan Freeman who played the role of an ‘Uncle Tom’ when in real life he was a Black nationalist.. He gets into the CIA, soaks up all their game and then leads an armed rebellion..This fim was so controversial, that it was banned from movie theaters and was hard to get up until recently..

According to Greenlee almost everyone involved in that film from the director Ivan Dixon on down to lead actor Lawrence Cook found themselves outcasted in many Hollywood circles. Cook wouldn’t appear in a major film for almost 20 years after Spook Who sat by the Door.

You can peep the movie here…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BynXfREPG8


Soul of nigger charleyAnother flick building on the Slave revolt theme is the Legend of Nigger Charley and Soul of Nigger Charley featuring Fred Williamson. It focuses on a trio of escaped slaves who are down to fight and win against white oppressors.. Believe it or not when these films came out there were posters all over subways in NYC advertising the film. The N word was not covered or changed.. It was very much in your face.. Legend of Nigger Charley went on to be Paramount pictures highest grossing film in 1972 when it was released.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lL0EV6ar1Eo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQ1aRxc341Q