Guilty Pleasure – Django Unchained

Let me begin by stating Django Unchained is an awesome movie. The Blaxploitation spaghetti Southern about a slave freed by a bounty hunter who goes through hell to rescue his wife from a plantation is if not the best movie I’d seen in 2012 certainly in the top five (along with Moonrise Kingdom, The Intouchables, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Sessions) and definitely the best Quentin Tarantino movie since Pulp Fiction.

Django Unchained is an honest to goodness epic showing how a slave became the fastest draw in the South and how he reunited with his true love. There’s a back story of a wide enough world that would make The Godfather proud. The nearly three hour running time flies by without any conventional structure.

With this movie Quentin Tarantino reminds us of the two major ways he has influenced popular culture. The first impact is the way our culture now blurs the lines between paying homage toward its influences and stealing their work. Just as musicians sampled works from earlier songs and like snags photos (that’s the sheriff from Blazing Saddles up there) to make it easier to create a mood for the audience, Tarantino peppers Django Unchained with familiar soundtracks, images, and actors. This is accepted as smart filmmaking now as opposed to the theft Tarantino was accused of twenty years ago when he popularized his homage cinema.

It is rather because of Tarantino’s second impact on our culture that makes me feel guilty for liking the movie. It has nothing to do with the controversy that Django Unchained belittles slavery. Slavery still does not look like a glamorous lifestyle. Nor is it because of the generous helpings of the N-word (though you will flinch with the ease that Leonardo DiCaprio sprays the word). It is the movie’s fetishizing of guns that makes me feel like a hypocrite.

I’ve used this pulpit for some time as an anti-gun forum. I truly feel if we are ever to be a civilized society we need to ban guns. After all the shooting tragedies of 2012 I thought the year’s biggest jerkoff was the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre who held a press conference saying the gun manufacturers and dealers who line his pockets with silver are not to be blamed for gun violence, rather it is violent video games and movies. The culprit LaPierre named was the Tarantino scripted Natural Born Killers which came out in 1994 when the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooter was two years old. As despicable and self-serving a political tactic as LaPierre used after seeing Django Unchained I have to admit there is some truth to his words.

Watching Django get his revenge on the men who did him wrong makes you cheer. You get excited every time he reaches for his gun and celebrate when he murders.  How can you not expect this to influence people? When someone gets fired, gets cuts off on the road, or spies someone suspicious walking in their neighborhood might they think what would Django do? Didn’t his gun help him accomplish all his goals from smiting his enemies to getting his girl.

And so Django Unchained leaves me with mixed emotions. It is solid  entertainment that put a smile on my face, but if it leads to even one death is a movie, no matter how great it might be, worth it?

2 thoughts on “Guilty Pleasure – Django Unchained

  1. An anti-gun activist that likes Taratino movies? No bigger oxymoron there than I’ve ever seen. By virtue of the movies he makes it should predispose a person to liking all forms of weapons. I feel the best deterrent to ensuring a civilized society is having guns or some form of weapon in every home. The reason? Say you ban guns, that’s not going to stop real ciminals from still acquiring them. Only now, those criminals can inflict even more harm because most average people do not have a gun of any kind because they are outlawed. And where does the banning end? When does it become knives, hammers, toe nail clippers? How long before homes have to be as empty of weapons as an airplane?

    Put it another way, suppose Hitler acquired the Atom bomb first. He would have mass produced them rapidly, possibly before the U.S. even had one. Then what would have stopped him using them on the rest of Europe, the Soviet Union, and ultimately cities in the United States? You probably wouldn’t be here today because he would have exterminated every last Jew when no one was left to fight him because no one else had an Atom bomb. Nuclear deterrancy has prevented Nuclear War for years. Just because you disarm doesn’t mean the other guy actually will.

    Not to mention, with unsecured homes across the U.S., what would stop the government from doing whatever it wants with a defenseless population that can’t fight back?

    Guns don’t kill people, the wrong kinds of people with access to guns do. I see nothing wrong with owing a gun or any other weapon, if for no other reason than to never have to use them, hopefully.

    I’ve never been a big fan of Tarantino movies. I’ll watch them sometimes, but I don’t think I can agree with the premise that movie violence leads to bad things either. It’s a make believe world where people can get away with killing people in droves if they so desire, without any consequence. The people that lose touch with reality are the real issue, like the kid at Sandy Hook. That’s why it might be better for every citizen to have to have a psych eval every year, as well as a criminal background check. This would be something, that in my opinion, would not violate constitutional rights because you’re ensuring domestic tranquility as outlined by the constitution. We have the right to protect ourselves from all enemies, foreigh and domestic. So, just as someone has to register to vote and perform that function every 2-4 years to maintain that registration or face potential issues, why can’t a psych eval and background check be included?

    That’s just my opinion though. I’ll probably check out Django at some point, but I’ll wait for Netflix as I do most Taratino movies. The only ones I’ve ever paid to see in the movie theatre involved his gratuitous death, such as Desperado, From Dusk Til Dawn, and Little Nicky (although I still want my money back for that one).

  2. Guns like religion, abortion and which came first the chicken or the egg are issues that no one is ever going to change their mind. But the notion that guns don’t kill people is wrong. That’s their purpose… to end lives.

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