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Django Unchained by Quentin Tarantino Transgressive Analysis Case Study

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Updated: Aug 16th, 2022

The American film Django Unchained by Quentin Tarantino has brought great controversy and debate on whether the movie deserves censoring. The film features Django as the main character, a black American slave working under his owner, Dr. Schultz, and who is hunting fugitives for bounties. Schultz despises slavery but uses it to his advantage when necessary, so he proposes a partnership with Django when he discovers the captive’s expertise in tracking deserters. Apart from hunting runaway criminals, Django also has a mission of freeing his wife from slavery, thus, Shultz offers to help when they become partners. As a producer, Tarantino builds his film through the themes of slavery, white supremacy, love, revenge, and freedom. Although the movie is fictional, some aspects of the storyline and scenes have elicited different remarks from viewers and film experts, which need censoring so as to make the film more viewer-friendly. This essay identifies some implicit ideologies about the movie, including racism, violence, nudity, and language profanities that critics identify as controversial to the film industry that warrants the movie’s censorship.

Racism

Django Unchained displays many actions depicting racism where white Americans are seen to be superior to Black Americans. The main character in the film is a black African who survives under the influence and protection of his white employer. Critics view the relationship between Django and Schultz as uncharacteristic, which encourages racism where Black Americans must depend on their white counterparts for survival (Aultman, Piatt & Piatt, 2020). Historically, White Americans have demonstrated their supremacy by segregating, torturing, and discriminating against Black Americans, and such films only escalate white power even in the present society.

Moreover, the film shows intentional hostility and discrimination against black individuals by repeating racist words such as nigger, hence demeaning black people. In the movie, Mr. Bennet, also known as big daddy, openly says the laws forbid niggers from riding horses in white people’s territory, showing the extent of spite and discrimination towards the black population. Such controversial scenes and words heightens the debate on whether the film is suitable for viewing, as it can elicit some forgotten emotions from history that may affect the racial relations in the present society. Apart from white supremacy and slavery, the film demonstrates how Django ascends the slavery ladder to become partners with his owner. Thus, this creates a different racist structure from the current view of racism, where a black American transcends over the white race (Górny, 2019). The Black dominance generates racial controversy in society as white Americans fear a possible rebellion due to a change in supremacy.

Nudity and Profanities

The film features usage of numerous unethical language phrases, nudity, and incest that may negatively affect young viewers. The film shows full frontal nude images of male slaves, displaying the abuse of slavery where victims had no right to privacy and little value in their owners’ lives (Benash, 2019). Although nudity instances are few and brief, they present the unfair treatment of individuals whose bodies are used for all kinds of entertainment willingly or unwillingly. Young audiences and immature adults may find it provoking, hence, the need for censoring the nudity scenes to milder skin exposing images so as to make the movie more viewer-friendly (Benash, 2019). Profane language such as fuck and nigger is present in almost all stages of the film. For example, Mr. Bennet calls black people niggers and consider them below his social status, while Dr. Schultz refers to black Americans as black creatures, although he is a partner to Django. Other profanity words include fuck, hell, motherfucker, among others which portrays the film to be unethical and morally corrupt, particularly to young audiences.

Violence

Django Unchained has numerous scenes depicting violence, blood, gores, and cruelty towards slaves. The film shows viciousness through gunfights and the infliction of pain on slaves and the poor in showing white supremacy in the slavery period. The film’s graphics on brutality and bloody scenes seem surreal, leading to more criticism of the nature of cruelty (Liénard-Yeterian, 2019). For example, when Django allows a man to be torn apart by dogs without any sympathy on the pain the person goes through before death, shows his brutal nature. In the movie, Tarantino also illustrates violence as a solution to freedom and racial oppression, a condemned vice in society today (Winters, 2018). Django Unchained is a historical film where violence was the norm in showing power and overcoming oppression, the same does not apply to today’s morals and approaches of obtaining power (Tarantino, 2013). Critics examine the film’s violent acts during slavery to promote hate and rebellion between black and white Americans, which breaks more than builds the already delicate relationship, therefore necessitating the need for the film’s censorship.

Additionally, Tarantino depicts the mandingo fighting, which critics dismiss as a historical inaccuracy that is not authentic. The Mandigo fight does not warrant censorship as all events and characters are fictional. Although violence is terrible, Tarantino’s use of brutality and cruelty is necessary for depicting the real story of slavery throughout history, which the American society tries to hide in defending the unpleasant past of slavery (Tarantino, 2013). By presenting the dark sides of servitude, people can understand and accept the historical events and changes to avoid unnecessary misconceptions.

Conclusion

Django Unchained is one of the boldest and different films about the history of American slavery. Many faultfinders’ points against the film’s production may be valid, but it is also essential to consider that the movie’s aim is different from most presumed views. Racism has been in existence for long, with many movies showing various forms of racial discrimination, thus, Tarantino’s approach to racism should be given consideration. Although nudity is brief, the scenes and profane language are not suitable for young viewers. Regarding violence, the film should try to reduce the bloody scenes and gores. Generally, Tarantino did not base the movie on historical events, giving the audience an open avenue for discussion and different conclusions on the film’s meaning.

Reference List

Aultman, J.M., Piatt, E. and Piatt, J. (2020) ‘The segregated gun as an indicator of racism and representations in film’, Humanities & Social Sciences Communications, 7(1), pp. 1-10.

Benash, W.R. (2019) Scum cinema: America through the eyes of the exploitation film. Dartmouth College.

Górny, A. (2019) ‘Appalling! Terrifying! Wonderful! Blaxploitation and the cinematic image of the South’, Polish Journal for American Studies, 13, pp. 237-332.

Liénard-Yeterian, M. (2019) “Wither the South on screen: revisiting some recent releases”, Polish Journal for American Studies, 13, pp. 207-333.

Tarantino, Q. (2013) Django unchained interview. Web.

Winters, J. (2018) “Rescue US: birth, Django, and the violence of racial redemption”, Religions, 9(1), pp. 20-21.

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