Black Filmmaker Surprised by 'Django Unchained'

Jamie Foxx (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Filmmaker Trey Ellis writes at the Huffington Post that Django Unchained pleasantly surprised him because he has struggled in the past with director Quentin Tarantino's flagrant use of the n-word.

Like every other black filmmaker and/or self-appointed guardian of black cultural treasures, I was as worried as I was when I heard Quentin Tarantino's next film would be a slave-narrative-cum-spaghetti-western. He's easily one of the most exciting filmmakers in the history of cinema, and much of that excitement comes from how he challenges the audience. However some black fans, including me, have sometimes struggled with his well-publicized, pre-hipster love affair with the n-word.

For example Tarantino's Jackie Brown is a masterpiece. For resuscitating the career of Pam Grier alone, the director should have been awarded whatever the black equivalent is of the Légion d'Honneur. The 38 utterances of the n-word didn't enrage me as it did Spike Lee (who counted them), and then said in aninterview for Variety, "Quentin is infatuated with that word. What does he want to be made — an honorary black man?"

Well, now for making the funniest, most-energizing, complicated, brilliant and uplifting action-adventure about a slave turned gunslinging folk hero, Tarantino has more than earned his black card. Jamie Foxx's Django and Sam Jackson's Stephen are two of the most nuanced, real, raw and entertaining black characters ever filmed. Foxx has the courage to begin his character as a vulnerable, beaten and heartbroken slave who gradually grows into an unforgettable and instantly iconic American folk hero. Jackson's Stephen (a play on Stepin Fetchit) is easily one of the most audacious and ultimately brilliantly surprising performances of his career.


Read Trey Ellis' entire piece at the Huffington Post.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.


Share This Story