Amoeblog

Unleashing My Essay and a Few Others on Django Unchained

Posted by Charles Reece, January 8, 2013 07:44am | Post a Comment
Samuel Jackson Stephen Django Unchained

My essay, "Snowball's Chance in Hell," on Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained is up. I had some problems with the film:

So, instead of a critical reflection of Django’s narrative, complicating his own generically derived existence as black performativity (cf. blaxploitation), Stephen is treated as little more than a blackface projection for white fantasy. As Tarantino has stated over and over in interviews, he clearly wants his audience to take sides, cheer at the ending — not, I conclude, reflect on the problematic that the house negro presents. Django is the oppressed that white folk would like to be in such a situation, fighting for freedom (just as they would now, of course), with Stephen’s freely working for subjugation the negation that gives such freedom meaning — as if chattel slavery and its concomitant subjugation of black identity were a choice made by the subjugated!

Ishmael Reed
really didn't like the film:

Throughout the movie,Tarantino reminds us that the Foxx character is unique. Comic book white racists, when reacting to Django, say things like “I ain’t never seen a n—– like you.”Or “I ain’t never seen a n—– on horseback.” In case you didn’t get the message it’s said twice in the movie that Django is “one in ten thousand” blacks. It might have been Django producer Reginald Hudlin who introduced Tarantino to the “Talented Tenth” concept originated by W.E.B DuBois. I wish that Hudlin had written the movie. As it stands, Foxx is chained to this stupid screenplay.

The Oppression of Armond White, Film Critic

Posted by Charles Reece, April 18, 2010 11:08pm | Post a Comment
armond white  

Critic Armond White used to regularly irritate me with his movie reviews over at the New York Press when I read them. I often agreed with his views on the ideological underpinnings of Hollywood, but rarely for the reasons he gave. I'm of the opinion that it's better to be wrong for the right reasons than vice versa. He could always be counted on to take the inverse reaction to the majority of high-toned critics writing for film magazines and weeklies, not because they were wrong (they often are), but more, I suspect, because his inflamed rhetoric to the contrary got him noticed. It's hardly a coincidence that he should write for the Press, the city weekly equivalent of talk radio. While no right-winger, he shares with that group a reactionary take on culture. And not unrelated, his critical M.O. is similar to Pauline Kael's: puncture the pretentious bubbles of critical elite, take down their sacred cows. Her bête noire was the doleful European art cinema (e.g., Ingmar Bergman), whereas his is the current misanthropic American indy film (e.g., Noah Baumbach, to whom we'll be returning shortly). From there, the Paulette "bravely" defends a commercial filmmaker who's been slighted by said elite. Following the titular hero of Dawson's Creek, White's pet project has been Steven Spielberg.  

Take for example his positive critiques of the director's two releases from 2002, Catch Me If You Can:

Telling the true story of Frank W. Abagnale Jr. [Leonardo DiCaprio], a con artist who switched identities, posed as an airline copilot, doctor, lawyer and cashed millions of dollars in bogus checks before he was 21 years old, Spielberg locates the American myth of ceaseless ambition in the neurosis of a boy attempting to emulate, please and avenge his father. [...]