ONTD Political

"American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western"

8:21 pm - 12/23/2012
Spike Lee Won't See 'Django Unchained,' Says "American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western"

To say that Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" will be divisive is perhaps an understatement. At The Playlist, we ran three reviews to highlight the varying opinions our staff had on the film, and with the movie hitting theaters this week that chatter is only going to increase. But getting the ball rolling on what is surely to be some lively debate in many quarters is Spike Lee, who has declared he will be not be seeing the movie at all.

Catching up with Vibe (via Shadow & Act), the director stated quite clearly why he felt he coulnd't watch the movie. "I can't speak on it 'cause I'm not gonna see it. I'm not seeing it. All I'm going to say is that it's disrespectful to my ancestors, to see that film. That's the only thing I'm gonna say," he explained. "I can't disrespect my ancestors. I can't do it. Now, that's me, I'm not speaking on behalf of anybody but myself."

Of course, the comments attracted immediate attention, and Lee hit Twitter as well saying: "American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them."
And of course, this prompted further debate and Lee stayed online for a while last night to read and respond to comments (it's worth a browse).

And while we'll let this conversation play out in the comments, particularly as people see the movie in the coming days and weeks, it should be noted that this isn't the first time Tarantino has been the target of Lee's criticisms. Circa "Jackie Brown," Lee took issue with the amount of n-words peppered throughout the movie, telling Variety at the time: "I'm not against the word. And some people speak that way. But Quentin is infatuated with that word. What does he want to be made--an honorary black man?...I want Quentin to know that all African Americans do not think that word is trendy or slick."

And one might surmise that Lee feels Tarantino is again playing a bit fast and loose with African-American history and culture, which may be why he's not going to bother sitting down to watch "Django Unchained." And while we're all for criticism, we'd urge Lee to least see the movie before speaking out against it. Just like the current "Zero Dark Thirty"-endorses-torture spin that's flying around the interwebs, a lot of it is coming from people who haven't bothered to see the movie yet. Discourse is great, but let's at least make sure we're seeing the works first, before acting like experts about it.

Watch Lee's comments shared with Vibe below, and as always, we want to know what you think.

Source


OT: I just wanted to say that I renamed my account because it was too easy to know who I was in real life (I had, previously, my real name as username.)
chaya 24th-Dec-2012 02:44 am (UTC)
Something in the html severely borked the text in this post.
aviv 24th-Dec-2012 03:37 am (UTC)
D: I'll try to fix it

ETA: I can't fix it :'( ... I'll keep trying, though.

Edited at 2012-12-24 03:53 am (UTC)
astridmyrna 24th-Dec-2012 07:34 am (UTC)
I fully support him trashing it, tbh, especially since the movie is reported to have used the n-word over a hundred times. Why should he have to spend money to experience more overt racism on the big screen?
mastadge 24th-Dec-2012 03:10 am (UTC)
"And while we're all for criticism, we'd urge Lee to least see the movie before speaking out against it."

How disingenuous. He's not critiquing plot points here. Why should he see it when the very idea of it bothers him? If he thinks that the film advertised trivializes or disrespects his heritage, why should he have to see it to say so? We all have our filters and our reasons; there's plenty out there than any of us chooses not to subject ourselves to because it doesn't appeal to us or bothers us in some way.
oceandezignz 24th-Dec-2012 03:12 am (UTC)
I like this comment.
coyotesuspect 24th-Dec-2012 03:12 am (UTC)
And while we're all for criticism, we'd urge Lee to least see the movie before speaking out against it.

Do not pass go; do not collect 200 dollars; go directly to fuck yourself.
moonshaz 24th-Dec-2012 07:43 am (UTC)
This!
angelofdeath275 24th-Dec-2012 03:28 am (UTC)
saying Lee should see the movie is saying he should be subjected to being called a nigger 106(?) times

he can go get hit by a bus.
hey_spectrum 24th-Dec-2012 03:45 am (UTC)
you could just say "the n-word" instead of the actual word?

Edited at 2012-12-24 03:45 am (UTC)
wikilobbying 24th-Dec-2012 03:44 am (UTC)
ugh @ urging lee to see it before speaking against it.

first off, lee has seen other tarantino flicks before and he's seen the way tarantino has implemented the use of the n-word in dialogue before, and he's not okay with it. combined with that fact that lee's relationship and experience with the n-word is very different from tarantino's (since QT is, you know, very much white), he has every right to call out tarantino's use of that word in his dialogue and avoid seeing a movie because of that + his concerns regarding the way a white director and writer is going to portray slavery and slaves. so let's stop being dismissive about legitimate concerns that will most likely prove to be legitimate criticisms from people who will see it.

second off, lee even covers his ass for those types of silly criticisms by saying he can't speak for anyone but himself. rest assured, blog writer at indiewire, there will be other black people who will see the movie and will offer their feelings, opinions, and perspectives that are based in what they watched. and i'm sure you'll still have dismissive things to say, but maybe next time you'll keep a fucking lid on it. :)
astridmyrna 24th-Dec-2012 05:50 am (UTC)
first off, lee has seen other tarantino flicks before and he's seen the way tarantino has implemented the use of the n-word in dialogue before, and he's not okay with it. combined with that fact that lee's relationship and experience with the n-word is very different from tarantino's (since QT is, you know, very much white), he has every right to call out tarantino's use of that word in his dialogue and avoid seeing a movie because of that + his concerns regarding the way a white director and writer is going to portray slavery and slaves.

I've never seen a QT flick, and now I'm reeeeally glad I haven't. I had no idea that this guy had such a love affair with the n-word, and I hate it when white authors/film makers have their characters say the n-word or any other slur just so they can say, "Hey now, I didn't say that! The character did! I'm not racist, the character is!"
oceandezignz 24th-Dec-2012 03:59 am (UTC)
Oh my god this gif just has me in tears. TEARS!
dearmisterecho 24th-Dec-2012 04:18 am (UTC)
Just saw the trailer for the first time, and the movie looks like how a white person imagines a black person's revenge fantasy would play out

except it's not your fucking place to tell that kind of story, Quentin Crackerass Tarantino.

Edited at 2012-12-24 04:19 am (UTC)
girly123 24th-Dec-2012 04:28 am (UTC)
Which ones, and how so?
sihaya09 24th-Dec-2012 04:49 am (UTC)
Nothing particularly to add to this post, but I did find it interesting how it contradicts what Jamie Foxx said to Vibe:

I ran into Spike Lee at the BET Awards. You know Spike, he'll let you have it whether it's good, bad or ugly. And he said, ‘I'm not going to say anything bad about this film. It looks like y'all are getting it.'

http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/73807022.html
angelofdeath275 24th-Dec-2012 05:20 am (UTC)
what does this have to do with anything

can people not change their minds

Edited at 2012-12-24 05:21 am (UTC)
angelofdeath275 24th-Dec-2012 05:37 am (UTC)
It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them


keep staring at this and im not quite sure how to take this. for one, i wonder if theres ever been an official count of how many slaves died. because while whites didnt want 'their property' damaged, there are still some who died from diseases white people brought with them, cramp conditions in ships, infections from where they worked, experimentions, etc...

two, theres the holocaust of the american indians that hitler in turn used as inspiration...

so theres this odd feeling i have about this comparison.
astridmyrna 24th-Dec-2012 05:54 am (UTC)
Maybe exploitation is a better term?
mskye 24th-Dec-2012 07:13 am (UTC)
tarantino wtf r u doing
lantean_breeze 24th-Dec-2012 08:28 am (UTC)
I saw the trailer, and I do not know what to think. Needless to say, I'm for skipping it too. Lee has a point.
romp 24th-Dec-2012 08:47 am (UTC)
American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western

Thanks for sharing this, OP. The trailer felt wrong, like it was taking horrific acts and making them into an action movie with a cartoon villain.
the_physicist 24th-Dec-2012 09:56 am (UTC)
I don't think that Spike Lee hasn't "bothered" to see it. I think he made it quite clear that he doesn't want to because he finds the premise disrespectful.

In short because I don't want to type too much... to me Tarentino comes across like some post-apartheid, white South-African "activist". A self-hating white guy who thinks the best way to make up for his race's past atrocities is to highlight white crimes in his own way at the top of his voice... instead of helping those affected and still living with the consequences have their voices heard instead.
mahsox_mahsox 24th-Dec-2012 11:57 am (UTC)
No-one needs him to see the movie. Those who want to read a detailed review of it by someone who actually saw it will have no trouble finding that sort of material.

And it sounds like he made the comments about not seeing it in response to being asked about it... it isn't as if he's spontaneously putting out press releases "Spike Lee Isn't Seeing This Movie... now read his review of not seeing this movie!" which would be kind of silly. I mean, if he wanted to actively speak out about it without having been asked, then I'd sort of expect him to make the effort to deal with watching it first. As it is he's just telling us how he feels about what he knows of someone else's movie. He's not obliged to have the sort of opinion that comes from watching it.
yeats 24th-Dec-2012 03:11 pm (UTC)
one of the biggest problems i have with this film, just like my problems with "inglorious basterds," is that tarantino's historical revenge fantasies demean the actual resistance of people in the past, while also creating an anachronistic standard of rebellion. after "basterds," i talked to multiple people who said things like, "i don't understand why jewish people didn't just fight back like that in real life," which a) of course, some of them did (the warsaw ghetto uprising); and b) suggests that those jews who didn't or weren't able to fight back were somehow weak or responsible for their own suffering.

i haven't seen this movie yet, so i can't speak directly to it, but i imagine that the storyline of jamie foxx's character being freed from slavery and then tracking down his wife and taking revenge on the slaveowner who abuses her will have the same problems. it's entirely appropriate for spike lee to feel this way.

Edited at 2012-12-24 03:13 pm (UTC)
dearmisterecho 24th-Dec-2012 03:32 pm (UTC)
A+ assessment
tabaqui 24th-Dec-2012 04:08 pm (UTC)
I have long gotten 'over' Tarantino and his movies, and have no plans to watch anything of his again, ever, so i don't honestly have any opinions on this other than a) the trailers seemed pretty weird and b) the only review of it i read was on Huffingtonpost, and i read it *because* the writer was black, and i wanted to know what he thought of it.

He actually really liked it, which surprised me and made me wonder if the trailer was just cut to look a certain way. I still won't be seeing it, though.

caerfrli 24th-Dec-2012 04:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, and inglorius basterds didn't kill Hitler and Abraham Lincoln wasn't a vampire hunter. It's a movie
wikilobbying 24th-Dec-2012 07:56 pm (UTC)
no duh but that doesn't mean that the plot of django unchained isn't problematic. it doesn't mean the content of the film won't be problematic. it doesn't mean spike lee has no reason to object to it and say why he won't see it.
darth_eldritch 24th-Dec-2012 05:13 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm not digging this meme that you have to see, that is, pay for, watch, and support, the entire movie (or read the book, or play the entire game) in order to have an opinion of it.

It's really problematic when there is objectionable content. Why is the onus on Spike Lee, or any other disenfranchised people to "educate" themselves about the content that the privileged put out? Why are they obligated to see or read the entire damn thing in order to justify thier objections?
redstar826 24th-Dec-2012 05:19 pm (UTC)
seriously. And like I mentioned in another comment, finding info about entertainment is easier than ever before. Anyone with an internet connection can find hundreds of reviews, summaries, etc for any given work. Why is it so necessary to read/watch/listen to something from start to finish?

hell, with one google search, I found the entire damned script for this movie.
halfshellvenus 28th-Dec-2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
The review in our local paper didn't mention the flagrant use of the n-word, but instead focused on the horrific torture scenes in it that were just too inhuman to watch.

Shock tactics are business-as-usual for Tarantino, but that frankly sounds like something more awful than I'd want to see, either.

And the response from the source, that Lee should "see the movie first"? Hey, I already knew based on the subject matter alone that I never wanted to see "Boxing Helena." Should all feminists (heck, humanists) have seen that movie so that their complaints would then have more backing?

Sometimes the idea of a bad thing is clear enough that you shouldn't have to subject yourself to it to criticize it. :(
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