Monday, April 22, 2013

Django Unchained: Clear Messages for Discussion

Although it's challenging to watch every new movie that comes out or receives an academy award but I am making an effort to slowly catch up.  This week I had the opportunity to see a great movie, Django Unchained, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. The movie stars Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and a host of other great actors.

If you haven't seen it be warned that it's a long movie, a bit violent, but touches all the right buttons to make one tilt their head to the side and start to ponder on things from the past and to be on high alert of things happening today. I have noticed that audiences are divided on giving the movie a thumbs up or down, regardless of race, religion, or sexual preference.While watching the movie with a group of colleagues of all races, we decided to gather after the film to figure out how many of the hot button items could be used to create a discussion and resolve old issues.

Some of those hot buttons that started our mini think tank are:
  • Why were many of the slaves so loyal to their plantation owners?
  • Why did house slaves torture and abuse other slaves on the plantation?
  • Were those with the guns ever afraid that the slaves would rise up to beat them with the very hammer used to bash black skulls?
  • Simply looking at the huge number of slaves, why didn't slaves ever fight back or overtake the few who were in charge of brutalizing those with dark skin?
  • In the movie, when Django returned to find his wife and released 3 other slaves, why did they just sit in the back of the wagon instead of running away?
  • Why do some people still act like slaves today, lowering their heads and acting inferior to others?
  • Why is the term "nigga" so popular today and used by all races when it was meant to be derogatory? Why do some African Americans use this term so freely and accept it unlike other races accept negative terms used to identify them?
  • Why are people not using these terms the way they use the work "nigga" when talking about other races?
  • There seems to be a negative label for everyone. I was surprised there were so many since they are not verbally shared like the word "nigga", which is used more than in conversation than it was during slavery, or so it seems, but you get the point. 
  • Here is an abbreviated list of very offensive terms recommended not using:
    • Caucasians: Honky, Pecker wood, Cracker, Gringo
    • Mexican: Wetback, Spic
    • Asian/Pacific Islander: Jap, Nip, Chink, Chalie, Chinaman, Gook, Oriental, Chee Chee
    • Muslim: Muzzie
    • Italian: Dago, Guido
    • African Americans: Nigger, Aunt Jemima or Uncle Tom (kisses up to the boss) Crow, Coon, Jigaboo (once used by President Richard Nixon when speaking in private to refer to dance like mannerisms), Mammie
    • Vietnamese: Charlie
    • Native Americans: Buck, Blanket Ass
    • Jewish: Hymie, Kike
    • Irish: Paddy
    • Russian: Russki
    • German: Kraut
As you can see the derogatory names used for the various races are unlimited. You will see that African Americans have the longest list of negative terms used to define or describe them. Have you ever used one of these terms in conversation with your family, colleagues or friends? Have you ever thought of one of them?
  • The big question for discussion is why are some African Americans not proud of who they are?
I would love to hear all creative ideas to find solutions and resolutions to many of the issues Tarantino unveiled in Django Unchained.

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