As a people, our history in America has been both disheartening and inspiring. No one can deny the atrocities of slavery and the subsequent years leading to and during the Civil Rights Movement. Yet through seemingly insurmountable odds we have triumphed and excelled, surpassing the expectations of those who saw us only as property—as 3/5th human. Now, our President is black. We are the true embodiment of the American Dream.
But does that mean that our stories and our histories can only be retold as dramas, where we are victims—fearful yet determined to carve a better future for ourselves in a country that simultaneously needs and despises us? Can we handle a revenge plot where a free slave/bounty hunter endeavors to rescue his wife and take down his former master and the gruesome reality of slavery is shown merely to enhance the setting and not as the focal point?
With the recent release of Quentin Tarantino’s film Django Unchained, it seems Hollywood is saying, “Yes”. This film has been a hit with critics and won two of the five Golden Globe Awards for which it was nominated. The cast is pretty evenly divided and Tarantino clearly wasn’t interested in B-rent actors. Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christopher Waltz are undeniably skilled actors. Tarantino has a style all his own that is generally respected. Django Unchained is just another Tarantino action film right?
Spike Lee took to Twitter the weekend the movie was released to show his displeasure with the film, tweeting that American slavery was a holocaust, not a “Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western.” He says he will not see the movie on principle.
American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stole From Africa. I Will Honor Them.
December 22, 2012 10:18 pm via Twitter for BlackBerry® Reply Retweet Favorite
However the film’s star Jamie Foxx feels differently. According to an interview with the Guardian this month, Foxx admitted to having some reservations about the script, but was reassured by the director’s reputation and the supporting cast. He went on to say that if there are elements of Django Unchained that make you uncomfortable then so be it. “They’re supposed to.”
The questions really become how long will we hold onto the ghosts of the past? Will we ever be able to be uncomfortable and still enjoy the ride? Are we ready to let go of the past?
Follow Amber L. Bogins on Twitter @AmberLaShaii