The critical adulation that greets every new movie by Quentin Tarantino is a sad commentary on our culture. Tarantino is an overrated hack who does nothing more than rip off ideas from vastly superior directors from Europe and Asia. He then waters down these ideas and re-works them into movies that are infinitely inferior to the originals.
Tarantino is hailed as a "daring" and "radical" filmmaker, when in fact his slick, commercial movies are about as daring and radical as a cup of Starbucks coffee.
Django Unchained, the latest Tarantino film, is receiving universally rave reviews, as well as big box office numbers. It has also drawn controversy (which no doubt has boosted the film's box office---as controversy always helps shift product).
I haven't seen Django Unchained and I have no intention of doing so. So why do I already detest this movie and urge my fellow progressives to boycott the film?
It's because I believe that the American film industry really has no business making mere "entertainment" movies about the slavery era.
Hell, America has never even honestly confronted this horrific chapter in our history. In fact, we are still in many ways a racist society. (The incredibly vicious right-wing attacks on President Obama over the past few years merely confirm how racist a nation America is to this day). We can try to pretend we've moved beyond racism as a nation---but we're really just fooling ourselves.
I believe most African-Americans will understand what I'm talking about. But many (if not most) white people won't---which serves to prove my point.
Django Unchained has drawn outrage from a number of notable African-Americans, including director Spike Lee.
"American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western," Lee recently Tweeted. "It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them."
Lee was right. Slavery was a Holocaust. It was one of the greatest crimes in history.
Millions of Africans died during the years of slavery. And the slaves who didn't die suffered a fate that was actually worse than death.
They were locked up in chains. They were forced to work long grueling hours for no pay at the barrel of a gun. They were beaten. They were tortured. They were raped. They were bought and sold like cattle.
Slavery was a horrific crime against humanity. And it was a colossal crime that white America has never honestly confronted.
Germany killed six million Jews during World War II. But at least that nation has made an effort to try to atone at least a little bit for its crimes. Germany has paid billions of dollars in reparations over the decades. The country has also passed strict laws to try to ensure that the nation never forgets its crime. (For example, denial of the Holocaust is illegal in today's Germany).
But America has never atoned in any way for slavery. It has never paid reparations. Indeed, America continued to oppress African-Americans long after slavery ended. America brutally oppressed black people via Jim Crow laws, as well as lynchings, and it treated them like second class citizens for many decades. Black people couldn't even vote in the Deep South, all the way up until the 1960s.
Indeed, Jim Crow still exists in today's America in some ways. The huge numbers of largely low-income black men who are serving long, harsh punishments in prison for nickel-dime petty drug crimes is evidence of that.
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