Saturday, December 29, 2012

Django Unchained: A review to the critique

A few hours after watching the film Django Unchained I wrote a critique on some of the major faults to me to which I got a lot of side-ways glances and eye rolls. I thought my critique was reasonable and even a bit reserved, I could have easily added a few more head shaking and deep sighing senses to my critique.

I didn't because this is the best movie to come out in 2012. I enjoyed myself and plan to add it to my movie collection as soon as it hits dvd. However, I took on the responsibility of expressing some concerns that I knew would be hot button issues when the media decided to critique the film.

On my tumblr account Naturally Divine I decided to write my fangirl review of the film that same day. Here is a small excerpt from my article:

"*DISCLAIMER: If you're looking for a movie that accurately portrays the horrors and the struggles of slavery, this isn't the movie. If you're looking to get a better understanding of the mindset and manners of the South in its antebellum, this isn't the movie. If you came to this movie to learn about anything in regards to race and slavery, this isn't the movie for it. Don't get your hopes up, after all, this is a Quentin Tarantino for Christ sake*"

You can view my complete review here on my tumblr page

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Django: The Anti-Slavery, Slave Movie Critique

*here is a link to my Django review:
  I won't lie; I wasn't looking forward to viewing this movie. After seeing the first trailer, I just gave up on my people ever getting a fair shake on having stories of our origins in this nation being portrayed and discussed honestly on the big screen. I resigned the idea of that when James Brown was introduced in a trailer supposedly about a slave who kills white people for a living in pre-civil war America. I shook my head and sighed deeply when I saw Jamie Foxx was to be that hero former-slave and Mr. Tarantino was going to take it upon himself to tell this story.  

Do we REALLY need this story? Does this REALLY need to happen? IS THIS N*GGA SERIOUS WITH THESE DAMN TRAILERS?!?! 

 I promised myself I wouldn't spend one of my hard earned dollar bills to see my people's history being openly mocked by Hollywood to alleviate the shameful and dastardly deeds done to my people; directed by a white man that seems to have an odd obsession with excessively using word "Nigga/er" in his films without the benefit of having too many of said "niggas/ers" in his films.

 By all Accounts, I would have kept my promise if I hadn't read this enlightening interview between Henry Louis Gates Jr and Quentin Tarantino about the movie, its purpose,Tarantino's vision on Django and the stories origins.  Tarantino's answers drew me in and by the end of the interview, I knew I had to watch the film. I just knew I was either going to be pissed all to the hell off or I was going to have a fun time watching "Inglorious Bastards" the black version.

I was wrong on all accounts!! 

When I stepped in the theater, bought my $20 Popcorn-Icee-Candy combo enema to prepare myself for this sh*t that was about to come out of this theater screen. Oh my lawd, I was not prepared for what I saw.  This film is what I needed and is easily one of my favorite films of 2012.  This isn't, and I repeat THIS IS NOT A SLAVERY MOVIE. This is not an all inclusive cultural revenge movie either. It's a Western movie, that just so happens to happen in pre-civil war America with a black man.

By purposely using a former slave (Django) as the gallant protagonist desperately searching for his long suffering wife (Broomhilda) as the narrative of the film, it broughta unique twist to a tired old western genre cowboy narrative movie. No longer can you write cowboy films starring baby-faced white men killing the savage Indians to make it to the west/establish himself/avenge a loved one's death/manifest destiny (or insert some other white savior western narrative), you need something new to revive the genre: Enter Django Unchained. (One must add the "Unchained" to distinguish it from the 1966 film of the same name that actually inspired Tarantino to make this film).

From beginning to end, you aren't manipulated into believing that this movie does anything more than tell a western movie filled with woe, revenge and in the end triumph.However, it is unfortunate that it was advertised like the film was about slavery that turned into a western as opposed to a western that just so happened to have slaves in it.

Django is sought after by Dr. Schultz to help him collect on a bounty for a trio of brothers who do terrible things (they beat and sold Django's wife back into slavery). Upon successful completion of the mission Django is offered his freedom and $25 per brother he is able to identify and kill. The majority of the film, Django is a "relatively free man" and is treated as such by Dr. Schultz who extends an invitation to have Django as his bounty hunting partner after killing the trio of brothers (in the most emotionally upsetting yet HILL-LARRY-OUS SCENES OF ALL TIME). After hearing Django's story of his wife and how he wanted to get her back, Schultz helps Django devise a plan to find her. They find out where she was sold, then pretend to be Mandingo fighters (yes, its exactly what you think it is times 100) to meet with her master Calvin Candie (played BRILLIANTLY by Leonardo DiCaprio)  on his plantation called....wait for it. CANDIELAND (go ahead, role your eyes...I'll wait). Madness ensues that I swear, as a black person, takes you on a gnarly emotional roller coaster of hate, fear, inappropriate laughter and tears of joy.(I won't spoil the movie in this post but will in the next post on my tumblr).

This movie shows slaves not slavery-if that makes any sense. The closest you, the movie goer, gets to slavery is the purchase of Django by Dr. Schultz, and even then you know what happens to the sellers. You see slaves getting beat, killed (horrifyingly), tortured (mercilessly ) and even strapped with some medieval looking face mask and chains, but they aren't the vocal point of the movie. (unfortunately). This movie isn't from a slave/master, black/white perspective, but from Django's perspective. Sad to say, you could have taken out Jamie Foxx and the former slave idea, put in Brad Pitt, Freddy Rodriguez, Ryan Gosling (to draw in a younger audience) or any other mainstream actor to play this role and you would have gotten the same western. The slave part was merely a means to "freshen" the western idea (which is either revolutionary or sick, that "slavery" as its own narrative is just a "freshener" for a  different narrative as opposed to is own independence). Nothing more, nothing less.

These are a few moments in the film that didn't sit well with me:

1.) The soundtrack-Black movies don't always have to feature hip hop music. This is a period western piece so I expected to hear music suitable for the time. Not Rick Ross. (but the movie makes up for it in an EPIC GUN FIGHT on Candie's plantation).

2.) The benevolent racist Dr. Schultz. He was the ONLY white person in that movie you could tolerate because he "frees" Django and makes him his partner. However, Django isn't a FULL partner (he get's only a third of the bounty money they receive killing the bad guys) and he (Schultz) seems astonished that niggers believe in marriage. However, they duo have this sick father/son relationship that you love but give a deep side-eye to throughout most of the movie. 

3.) The use of the word "Nigger"- It was never used out of context to me. Shocker! I was surprised at how not offended I was by most of it. Critics said it was used over 110 times and I'd say most of them just walked right past you without ever being noticed. I'd assume the word nigger was used loosely by white folks of the time because they didn't see it as derogatory, that's just what black people were to them at the time. Of course, there were moments that made you twist in your seat, like hearing Leonardo DiCaprio say it the first time and how coolly "Big Daddy" employed it, and Django using it against a fellow brother (and I'm NOT TALKING ABOUT STEPHEN'S ASS).

4.) The slaves. I wished we could have seen Django interact with the slaves more. The film was FILLED with black actors with only a handful having lines. The black pickaninny female Django meets at Big Daddy's house, The Mandingo fighters (scarcely), Stephen-the house nigga and Broomhilda, outside of Django, are the only one's I can remember. As a person of color you'd hope there would be more interaction between the Django and this contemporaries. However, I see how him not interacting with them was a major part of him staying alive and getting to his wife. 

5.) Django as Jamie Foxx. I just couldn't buy him as being a slave or former slave. Django, as a character, was bad ass but a LOT needed to be explained about Django and Jamie as Django.Why didn't he have a southern accent if he was a southern slave? How was Django able to ride that horse so easily with little to no experience? Who taught him to read? He become an expert marksman and the fastest gun in the south over one winter? Really? Like...for real? There was a bit of a character mismatch to me. 

6.) The Movie Trailers. Whomever made up the Trailers to Django needs to be fired. IMMEDIATELY! They are misleading and leave out A LOT of what the movie is about. It makes potential viewers-especially us of color- not want to watch it. It felt like a mockery, but the movie is far from it. 

It was a magnificent film with some of issues, yes, I grant you that. But this isn't a bad movie, it does not disgrace black people and it does not do a disservice to history. This is an action packed western.             

Friday, September 21, 2012

Identity Clash of 2012: Little Bit of Awkward, lotta bit of RATCHET!! (pt.2)

*WARNING: NatDivine and Blogger cannot be held liable for any ratchetness you may incur whilst reading this post, watch the videos and clicking the links. You may want to hide yo wife, hide yo kids, yo finest lace front and yo ebt card before you read this post!*

To get a better understanding of what this post is in reference to, click this link to Part 1. Read before continuing please :D

Just as the internet, video-sharing sites and the Colored-Folk run blogs with content geared toward “black folk” catapulted the awkward black nerd identity, so has it spawned the sporadic f*%kery that is “Supa Ratchet”.“Ratchetness” itself is not a new phenomenon in the treasure trove of identities ascribed to black people over the few hundreds of years. However, the term "ratchet" has been recently labeled to the content.

The word is actually a southern colloquialism.  The word “ratchet” is the ebonic cousin to the English word for “wretched” (which stands for someone or something of low caliber, poor quality or unpleasant state). When written in its romanized form, it looks like “ratchet”, when spoken it is said with a southern twang.

Social media and video sharing sites have been the primary sling that has shot “ratchetness” to Sup Ratchet status and the forefront of what identity of blackness is supposed to be.  Mainstream media can also be named a culprit in the creation of le “Rachet” and one could point out stations like VH1 news stations, shows like “House Wives” shows, and MSNBC docs for maintaining the black stereotype of le “ratchet”. These shows and relics of old media  don't hold a thing to the impact new media and sites such as world star hip hop,  Media Takeout , twitter and the power of Youtube that not only accept the ratchetness, but celebrates the tom-foolery that occurs as a result of le ratchetness. (and profits exponential)

Old media outlets (news, television and cable networks) were able to contain and present ratchetness between items of serious news and entertainment segments of the day (except VH1 of course). Ratchetness was (is) spread to the masses but not to its fullest capacity. The mainstream media lacked continual visibility. To become a true all-encompassing structured identity ratchetness needed another faster, strong, dedicated avenue to mature. The miracle (or curse) of online media is that it’s a 24 hour content monster that can dedicate whole sections of the web to the nurturing and molding of a variety of different identities; hyper stimulation for the fiends of ratchet content. Hence why I call this identity “Supa Ratchet.” 

From cursing kids, to anthems, to churches singing fast food jingles on the corner, to gangsters dancing in diapers, to this *ish, and much, much, more; ratchetness has come into its own. Ratchness can be identified, has its own language , music (See: Youtube ), styles, websites (See: world star hip hop) and epistemology (yolo).  As noted in one of the links I've presented, ratchetness is not only a "black thing" but can be enjoyed by members of all races. However, if you were to google ratchetness...mmmhmmm. (The ire of a community can be seen here).

Ratchetness if its own distinguishably unique identity; however, even with ratchet content being streamed at the online community at the speed of light it has not been able to quell the online communities hunger for come content.. From pure ratchetness to structured ratchness you can see throughout YouTube and other online mediums. From ratchet girls anthem, to faux-ratchet rap, to sketches, Supa Ratchet is born. Supa Ratchet is just a imitation of what ratchetness is supposed to be.

In my last identity clash post I was able to identify the King and Queen of the Awkward Black Nerd identity; however, for this identity I can't quite peg a queen and king because of the nature of ratchets. Ratchetness is an identity but it isn't a consistent one; it is capricious, fleeting and amorphous. Ratchetness is had within a moment and reveals itself at the most inopportune timing for the perpetrators of it.  The Sweet Browns and Antoine Dodsons weren’t out to be “ratchet”, unfortunate events occurred and they reacted…while the public labeled and auto-tuned their reactions. I'd have to update this post at least 3 times a week to crown a new King and Queen.           

The awkward black nerd identity is fairly new it has a solid foundation; “pure” ratchetness is not a new phenomenon is very inconsistent and forever changing. The awkward black nerd was constructed by the black online community as opposed to Ratchet being another identity that was constructed and placed upon the black community like the jezebel, the crackhead, the mammy, the welfare queen and the other more deplorable identities. With the nurturing of the online community, with its infinite supply of ratchet content coupled with 24 hours access created the Supa Ratchet identity.

So where does the black community go from here with these two emerging identities? I don't know. \o_0/ 

I think both are very interesting and more attention needs to be given to these and many other new black identities emerging from the online revolution. 

Part 1 Here