2013 is making it difficult to avoid one of America’s greatest sins—slavery. We’ve just marked the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, and a plethora of films, documentaries and TV specials are scheduled to address slavery.
One blockbuster hit that's playing in cinemas now, and is likely to walk away with several Golden Globes and Oscars, is Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained.
Django Unchained depicts a slave-turned-bounty hunter (Jamie Foxx) who fearlessly treks across the U.S. to find his wife (Kerry Washington) in order to rescue her from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).
The film is classic Tarantino; this time a homage to the spaghetti western with romance and revenge narrative. Tarantino set the story in the most unlikely of places— America's Deep South before the Civil War in 1858.
Tarantino is known as the "King of Carnage," and his films’ aestheticized depictions of violence (which he calls “movie violence”) is both cruelly disturbing yet undeniably entertaining. In giving his view of Django Unchained, New York Times film critic A. O. Scott wrote, "A troubling and important movie about slavery and racism...Like Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained is crazily entertaining, brazenly irresponsible and also ethically serious in a way that is entirely consistent with its playfulness."
It is Tarantino's playfulness set in the troubling historical environment that is still unsettling many Americans. Leave it to Tarantino—he’s challenged us to ask a number of difficult questions:
Is it politically incorrect to depict American slavery in a playfully entertaining way?
Is there a politically correct way to depict American slavery?
While some will contest that Tarantino is being well...Tarantino, and he means no disrespect, others argue that his privilege as a well-respected moneymaking white heterosexual male filmmaker gives him carte blanche to recklessly express his creative juices even if it reinscribes stereotypes that many feel Django does.
But Tarantino pushes his critics back stating his objective in making Django is to stir a conversation about slavery because America won't. And he takes his making of Django to heart.
"It's one thing to write on the page, 'Cotton field in the background while two