Quentin Tarantino's recent cinematic success Inglourious Basterds is on everybody's To-See list. The "Holocaust Revenge" story follows a group of Jewish soldiers who seek revenge on Nazi soldiers by bashing their heads with baseball bats. Yes, it's supposed to get gloriously gory. I haven't seen the film yet, but I'm anxious to support what I hear is damn-good filmmaking and a phenom performance by Mister Angelina Jolie. Now let's get back to the "Holocaust Revenge" moniker and why that upset my lower intestines. Or was it my brain frequencies. Anyway, something was off-balance. I think the Holocaust was horrible. Without question. I think it was one of the most horrific tragedies in human history. Jews were killed; men of African descent were sterilized. It was an all-around vicious world event and a Tarantino fantasy film that provides some Nazi butt-kicking is all right with me.
However, I'd feel like a grinning assimilationist if I didn't mention the other side to this Holocaust revenge coin. Where are the "Slave Revenge" stories? There are at least two Holocaust films a year. In Hollywood if you take on the Holocaust and render something heartfelt or fun and revengeful, then you're sipping Cognac with Spielberg. If you roll up into Hollywood with this ain't-nothing-funnier story about a group of slaves who beat master's ass while force-feeding him fried pig meat, then you're sent to Tyler Perry for some what-works-in-black-cinema coaching. Am I wrong? Somebody throw me a high-five. Unlike some folks, I practice what I preach. If I don't see what I want in on the silver screen I write it myself. I recently wrote an alien invasion project that follows four African American men. The producer said, " You know what will be great? To throw a white guy in there. You never see that." And you never see four African American men in an alien invasion project either. Trust, I'm sticking to my original idea.
Again, I absolutely love the idea of a band of Jewish soldiers whooping some Nazi butt. I'll probably see Inglourious Basterds this week and love it. But can a brother get a "Slave Revenge" tale with crackling wit? Danny Glover's Toussaint project is slow going due to the lack of white heroes, but that certainly will be void of fantasy and fun. I guess someone could pitch something about Nat Turner, but there was nothing funny about him either and he killed some black folks, too. It appears nobody's too crazy about slave stories unless they provide musical backdrop in the cotton fields, or tragic mulattoes creating havoc with young white masters, or conflicted politicians who see a sparkle of humanity in their Negro's eyes and decide to set him free. But there's nothing funny about that either. I guess I'll try to do something with my "fried pig meat" pitch. At the end of the day, I simply want to see a film where somebody puts a strap to master's ol' crusty backside, or at least hose down Jim Crow.
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.