Django Unchained and Race: Here's What Drudge Doesn't Tell You

Categories: Film and TV

django drudge b.jpg
Ever vigilant for things to be outraged by, conservative internet precincts yesterday dropped the bombshell that there's gambling in Casablanca the word "nigger" is spoken in a Quentin Tarantino movie about American slavery.

Since Drudge et al. haven't actually seen the movie, they just go with the numbers, cherrypicked from an admiring Hollywood Reporter review. "Nigger" is spoken 100-plus times in Django Unchained, just about as often as you might hear in an afternoon at Mel Gibson's house. (Drudge's recent Django-related race-baiting has been well cataloged by Gawker.)

Drudge ignores context and Tarantino's artistic aims, of course. (We'll get to those below.) Instead, Drudge just puts the very fact out it there, apparently hoping that it illustrates two weary complaints of white conservatives: 1. That liberals are at best hypocritical and at worst the real racists; 2. That if white conservatives have to watch what they say, than everyone else does, too. The assumption is that Tarantino's film is, by math, 100 or so times worse than, say, the Fox Nation commenter who just spews it once.

Here's what they're missing.

First, and most obviously, the film is set in a time when the word was, for white Southerners especially, practically a synonym for property. To not use it would have been the most distracting of compromises -- a whitewash, if you will. Imagine if Tarantino hadn't, and if his antebellum south were like that one Seinfeld where nobody ever quite says "masturbation." One not-quite articulated aspect of the outrage, here, is that "nigger" coming from the mouths of slave traders, plantation owners, and proto-Klansmen makes white people look bad. Perhaps white people should have thought of that before having slavery.

See Also:
- Quentin Tarantino: The Inglourious Basterds Interview
- The RZA On His Feature Directorial Debut, Quentin Tarantino and Kanye West
- Exploring the Right Wing Blogosphere

The word is also spoken by the film's heroes, Dr. King Schultz (Chrisopth Waltz), a bounty hunter who deplores slavery, and Django (Jamie Foxx), a former slave. This makes sense both in terms of plotting -- the duo go undercover as slavers themselves in an effort to free Django's wife from her own legal bondage -- and in terms of verisimilitude. In 1865, what other words would they have used? (Actually, Tarantino gives some white characters a softer, more affectionate term for their favorite slaves: joe. Nobody seems to have counted these.)

In the film's most upsetting scenes, Django himself uses nigger to cow slaves owned by Leonardo DiCaprio's Calvin Candie, an ugly step necessary to win Candie's trust, to rescue the wife, and to make it out of the plantation alive. Later, Django's use of it is more aggressively modern. As he grows into something of a legend, Django applies nigger to himself with something of the spirit of hip hop's reclamation of it. He insists that he's that "one in ten thousand nigger" who won't be kept down.

Drudge's outrage seems part of another attempt to reclaim the word: As a term whose usage is policed by white conservatives to demonstrate the racism of people who aren't white conservatives. So, I don't expect the Drudge crowd to appreciate nuance. In many ways, Django Unchained is designed to inflame them. It is, after all, the tale of a black man avenging himself against the white folks and white institutions that have robbed his people of power.

The film is complex, surprising, and somewhat great. Also, being Tarantino's, it's impossible to unpack sight unseen -- or even after just one viewing. One surprise: As awful as the plantation owners are, the character who is arguably the movie's most loathsome is Samuel L. Jackson's house slave Stephen, who spits the term with a showy disgust every bit as disturbing as Candie's off-hand usage.

A second surprise: There's one white actor in the movie who never once says the word that has Drudge so upset. That is Quentin Tarantino, who has a one-scene cameo with an extraordinary payoff. Tarantino, of course, was once soundly dressed down by Spike Lee for the flamboyant use of nigger in Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction. Perhaps by not saying it here himself, he's signaling to the world that -- unlike the concern trolls on the right -- he's actually thinking about it.

--
Hey, you could do worse than following @studiesincrap on the Twitter thing.


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170 comments
roundelay78
roundelay78

 @northtexasgary  

You're a paranoid right-wing idiot---the fact you indicated that you're from Texas (by your name) says it all. Quit making s*** up and go crawl back into your barn. Thank you very much.

roundelay78
roundelay78

 @northtexasgary  

You're a paranoid right-wing idiot---the fact you indicated that you're from Texas (by your name) says it all. Quit making s*** up and go crawl back into your barn. Thank you very much.

mrpoizun1
mrpoizun1

It's always amusing when nazis and racists accuse others of being nazis and racists.  Does it mean that, deep down, they are ashamed of theimselves?  Or does it merely mean they are aware of the great evil inside them and are just using that evil for more evil purposes?

fireserphent
fireserphent

I loved this to death, especially that last quote.

datsneefa
datsneefa

Drudge just wants the opportunity to drop the N word without blowback

GlobalRoamer
GlobalRoamer

White Slaves?

The Irish slave trade began when James II sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.

Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.

From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade. Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well.

northtexasgary
northtexasgary

Worth Repeating for Liberals, Conservatives & Everyone Else........

There have been about 15-20 University, Media , & Government Studies All Sorts of Kind that are Updated Every Year or So: Political, Sociology-Economic, Party-Affiliation, Wants & Needs , GIS-basedEntitlements, etc.   ALL SAY SAME THING:  

1)THERE IS ONLY ABOUT 20%-25% OF AMERICANS THAT VOTE DEMOCRAT THAT ARE DEEP, CORE BELIEVERS AND ARE TRUE SOCIALIST, MARXIST, HATERS OF AMERICA; 

2)THERE ARE APPROXIMATELY 8%-12% OF DEMOCRAT VOTERS WHO ARE  "SITUATIONAL/CAUSE" VOTERS THAT ONLY VOTE 1-2 TIMES IN THEIR LIVES; 

3)APPROXIMATELY 30% OF ALL OF AMERICA WHO VOTE DEMOCRAT ARE FAKE, COMPUTER-CREATED, PAPER PERSONS THAT ONLY EXIST ON PAPER OR IN COMPUTERS TO STEAL ELECTIONS BY VOTE FRAUD.

So, The Liberals Better Remember That Fake Paper Liberal OBAMA-BOTS  REALLY ONLYMAKE UP ABOUT 35% OF COUNTRY, MAX, AND 60%-80% OF REAL AMERICANS WILL KICK YOU OUT OF AMERICA.

So Liberals,  Do You Really Want To Go To War With Our More Than 60%-80% of America.

northtexasgary
northtexasgary

Everyone should remember this from REAL High School Classes Taught In the 1920s-Late 1970s, That Including REAL TRUE HISTORY, NOT JUST MADE-UP "FEEL GOOD" BLAME WHITEY HISTORY.....

Not One White Man EVER Put a Black Into Slavery.....That Was Done BY OTHER AFRICAN TRIBES TAKING OVER TERRITORY, BUT MOSTLY BY MUSLIMS GETTING RID OF SUB-SAHARAN BLACKS SINCE THEY CONSIDER THEM INFERIOR TO ARABS & SAHARAN CLAN MUSLIMS...........

BTW, EGYPT'S NEW ISLAMIC CONSTITUTION  ALLOWS "SUB-SAHARAN BLACK SLAVES"..

Stupid Liberals

timmyhordan
timmyhordan

It always makes me giggle when people like Alan Scherstuhl think they are so enlightened that they need to tell everyone else what is right and what is wrong.  I bet Alan is a vegetarian too, LOL!    

GlobalRoamer
GlobalRoamer

Wasn't it President Johnson (D) - who in 1964 commented on the Civil Rights Act of 1964; "Now that we've passed the Civil Rights Act we will own the n***** vote for the next 200 years?"

And wasn't it Senator Robert Byrd (D) who was known leader of the KKK, yet embraced by his party?

And since people throw around the word racist, does anyone really know what it means?  No.  I'll give you an example.

When you believe that someone, because of their race, is inferior to another, that is racism.  Don't confuse it with bigotry.

When the Democrats line up $$$ and legislation to care for poor inner city blacks who can't get an education or job, what would you call it?  I'll hand it to Republicans, at least they believe in the ability of everyone to excel given an opportunity for good education and jobs.

When will the liberals stop using blacks with lies and payoffs to get their votes?

rgerman1
rgerman1

Well I for one am relieved that Tarantino has absolved us from all guilt now for using the N word.Leave it to Hollyweird to show Us the way to better race relations.

mnaglez
mnaglez

"Perhaps white people should have thought of that before having [sic] slavery."  Ain't that the truth!  Think of the problems we would have avoided if we had picked our own cotton...

cfmill3r
cfmill3r

Let me see if I got this right ... It's OK for Tarentino to use the 'N'-word in his film, because in the time in which the story is set, everyone used the 'N'-word and it was accepted.  So it's not bad.  

Well then, since slavery was accepted in this period of time, by that reasoning, slavery is not bad.  Oh, that doesn't work, does it?  So, just because something was once acceptable doesn't make it acceptable now, right?  Like, maybe using an offensive term for shock value?

Not that there's any chance that I'll ever watch another QT film.  I've seen one or two, and can honestly say that if I had not, I would not have missed anything.  I can always find something better to do with my time.

oldsettler
oldsettler

Slavery existed in Africa before the Europeans got there and started buying slaves from African/black slave traders.  Slavery still exists today in some parts of Africa.  The question Americans of African decent should be asking themselves about how the consequence of the past has effected them is how their ancestors were treated being brought here as slave.  Rather their questions should be about what conditions would they be living in in Africa if that had not happened.  Would their family still exist or would it have been slaughter by now by war-lords?

The mantra of black leaders has been for decades: We have bad lives because whites brought us from Africa as slaves.  A very negative anger inducing message that stops many of them from trying to better themselves.  The same message you have described this film to have.

The better message would be: We have problems here in the USA but we are so much better off and have so many more opportunities here than exist in Africa.  Take advantage of those opportunities and improve your life.

As an American of Scotch/Irish decent I see that better message in our past and how it effected my ancestors, an myself, to make our lives better.

jncarlos007
jncarlos007

I am an artist, with a degree and all the proper government approved paperwork, and when people say, "well I'm an artist so I can say/do that since I am only proving a point." I can say, with all government approved and authorized authority that, THAT IS BS!

To even imply that this movie is historically accurate is absurd and moronic, and as a mtter of course, almost ever argument you used in this article is similarly tainted by misguided personal opinion

This could be easily shown, but I for one, am disgustedly tired of liberal's snotty and superior attitude, their inability to ever be wrong, and the smug superiority inherent in the history of their philosophy.

In short, I do not have the time nor the inclination anymore to debate a wall of playing cards that thinks its made of bricks

J_Jammer
J_Jammer

You can't reclaim a word unless you birthed it.

Slavery was started by Great Britain and the African blacks that gave up tribes of people for gain. It wasn't started by the United States. Try. Again.

Therefore stating whites started it is a lie. Blacks had a hand in it. Be truthful. Be smart. Or be left and rewrite history.

murrayg81
murrayg81

Wow, so the N word is acceptable to be spoken by white people now?  Glad that racist thing is in the past now.

aberdeenvet
aberdeenvet

Me thinks you object too much. Drudge makes no direct statements on things. He just provides a diverse group of unconnected blogs/reports from MSM and other sources for the edification of the reader. As for this subject, EW and Variety are two of his sources. Get a life.

Walter_Bellhaven
Walter_Bellhaven

to the author of this column -  the use of 'strike-throughs' was played out years ago.

dartfred
dartfred

"the very fact out it there,""than everyone else does, too."Not only is it written poorly, the article is not thought-out well, either.  I hope Alan Scherstuhl is either in college, or does this as a part time gig.  This whole writing thing is not going to be a good long term plan for you, Alan.

mary.vergara
mary.vergara

Like most of the media, even though the Drudge is simply a link site, they can't tell you what's really going on. Much of our news is a diversion from the truth leaking out about the coup, cover up, and rigged elections. Do you know why Sarah Palin's bus tour was really canceled last year? Know why she stayed 30 miles away from the second debate or chose the death of Steve Jobs to announce that she's not running? Sarah Palin wasn't in this last race because too many people learned why she was planted in the first race. Search PalinsDirtyLittleSecret and learn what the media is BLACKED OUT from reporting on, the REAL Obama cover ups.

studiesincrap
studiesincrap topcommenter

Can't one of you commenters make an argument that *doesn't* descend into racist bullshit? 

joninva
joninva

(spirit of hip hop's reclamation of it) - does that mean I can start saying ni66er any time I want now? Or only when I'm rapping? Can M&M say ni66er? Or no, because he's white? Seriously, this movie must be every black militant's wet dream - kill whitey with impunity and get an Oscar for it. Best part is, slavery will always be a part of American history so blaming whitey can never go out of vogue. There will always be a job as the next Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, even 500 years from now. Talk about long-term prospects!

As for the movie, there is no artistic value. It is neither historical nor realistic. In fact, it's ironic to think that it could win awards (has to win - black is the new white) over the real hero of blacks (or should be anyway) - Lincoln. So one movie shows a white man trying to correct a millenia old wrong (slavery in general, slavery in America specifically), and the other shows basically what every nig..oops..sorry..African-American wishes he could do - kill whitey without repercussions.

Nothing like antagonizing an already victim-mentality mob, and alienating further the already beaten down and resentful white people who are the brunt of it every day. That'll get people forgetting about skin color for sure!

caligula1776
caligula1776

hey, anytime the word ni66er is used this much, i'm happy. 

keep up the good work quentin. you're fomenting the racial division this country needs to survive. it's imperative that we keep those nasty, dirty mongrels in their ghettos and away from the normal general population.

so...MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

no.seriously
no.seriously

Jamie Foxxxxxx did a much bigger disservice to this film than Matt Drudge with his little SNL stunt. I refuse to pay money to see it based on that alone. I think somebody went a little too far into his character and never came back around the bend. Methinks the little man a homeland security watch list be on should he, and all his phone and emails reviwed should they be. My philosophical guru Matt Drudge told me jedi is the hot new religion so I am brushing up on my yoda. Let's ask Eminem how his artistic use of nigger worked out for him in the 90s.

clements.chris
clements.chris

I thoroughly enjoyed Spike Lee's comments regarding Tarantino's used of the dreaded "N" word so many times in not only this one, but other movies as well. Lee said that if he had used the word "kike" this many times in a flick, it would have been the last film he'd be allowed to make! I guess you guys must have missed that huh? 

JapesMacfarland
JapesMacfarland

Drudge wasn't outraged, he was making fun of you silly leftists, genius. Kind of like how YOU were so outraged when Clarence Thomas made a dirty joke to a co-worker, but not so much when Bill Clinton had woman lined up around the block accusing him of harassment and rape. He's making fun of your religion, for it's shallowness and lack of self awareness and meanness. 

It's you secular leftists who are the joke, in your seemingly infinite lack of self awareness. In case you hadn't noticed, we're living in the least racist country in the world, and the only thing keeping MLK's dream of a color-blind society a reality is you secular leftists. All you care about is race, gender and class, and can't understand how we see the world in terms of right and wrong, and could care less for your trinity of values...next to a person's character. Grow up, you fools. 

dazedconfused
dazedconfused

What was Tarantino's excuse for using the N-word so many times in Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, etc?

cleanfun
cleanfun

"...just about as often as you might hear in an afternoon at Mel Gibson's house." or in in the 20 seconds it takes to walk by some blacks having a conversation in front of the liquor store.

Archetype1
Archetype1

@northtexasgary hahaha.  you make no sense, and your party is dying a slow, public death.  Wait until the boomers start passing away.  The GOP will split and die


roundelay78
roundelay78

@northtexasgary  

You're a paranoid right-wing idiot---the fact you indicated that you're from Texas (by your name) says it all. Quit making s*** up and go crawl back into your barn. Thank you very much.

curiousyellow
curiousyellow

Also I didn't know that African tribes forced innocent white men to buy their slaves.  DISGUSTING!  

Seriously though I don't understand how Africans participating in the slave trade changes anything.  People know that African tribes did enslave people, and people know that people of all races have been slaves and have enslaved others.  So since someone else caught and sold slaves it absolves whoever the next person is who buys and sells slaves from any wrongdoing?  They're still buying people and treating them like an object instead of a person. They didn't start the cycle, but they sure as hell have made sure that it could keep going.

Also what is blame whitey history?  Actually talking about things that have happened instead of teaching feel-good stories that glorify people who have done unspeakable and terrible things?  Yes our founding fathers were intellectual visionaries who did amazing things, but they also owned slaves and had hypocritical opinions.  Columbus did jump start the European exploration of the Americas, but he also committed unspeakable crimes to the native population.  History today isn't blame whitey feel good history, the history that was taught in school during the the 1920s-Late 1970s was feel good history on behalf of white American citizens.  Now that people are trying to teach children about actual history and not feel good stories the people who were taught the feel good stories of the past refuse to believe the truth and feel like they're being victimized. 

curiousyellow
curiousyellow

@northtexasgary Everyone should remember this from REAL High School Classes Taught In the 1920s-Late 1970s, That Including REAL TRUE HISTORY, NOT JUST MADE-UP "FEEL GOOD" BLAME WHITEY HISTORY.....

I love the irony in this post.  

timmyhordan
timmyhordan

@GlobalRoamer Also don't forget that the first grand wizard of the KKK was honored at the 1868 Democratic National Convention and no Democrats voted for the 14th Amendment to grant citizenship to former slaves.  

theblumorpho
theblumorpho

@rgerman1 

You may think that if you wish. But you will still get PUNCHED IN YOUR RACIST FACE, for using it, because YOU are not a historical movie, YOU are just a conservo-tard hiding his racism behind his "conservatism". I'm black and was a big fan of the SOPRANOS. I listened to them used ITALIAN SLURS, like "guinea" etc, against one another and NEVER ONCE THOUGHT TO MYSELF , "GEE, IF THEY CAN USE IT WHY CAN'T I?" Only a RACIST POS, wants to use a word to demean another group of people, using as his "defense" the fact that "THEY" use it too!

northtexasgary
northtexasgary

@mnaglez  Yep, the Chinese would have Used Them & been 150-200 years more advanced Industry & Economy than Western World and Europe & American Would still be like Savage Indians of the Southwest. .

Auttrianna
Auttrianna

@cfmill3r He used his art to express truths and realities from that time period. That's why its okay. I'm confused what's confusing about this? Trolling much?

Walter_Bellhaven
Walter_Bellhaven

when Palin is 80 years old, knuckleheads like you will still be begging people to hit that website.

caligula1776
caligula1776

@studiesincrap why? it appears that there is a concerted effort by the left, and blacks in particular, to INCREASE the racial division in this country, so we're just following their lead.

do i make hyperbolic, sarcastic statements to emphasize this fact? yep. will i stop? nope.

Walter_Bellhaven
Walter_Bellhaven

@clements.chris,   The "Reverend" Je$$e Jack$on called New York City  "Hymietown"  .... that didn't seem to hurt his career ....    whatever it is.

clements.chris
clements.chris

@dazedconfused Kinda funny, bur Spike Lee wanted to know the exact same thing! He was wondering if Tarantino thinks that he'll be made an "honorary black man" because he used the word so many times!

moultrie11
moultrie11

There were ALWAYS slaves but not to the point that whole cultures are WASHED away. African -Americans are MORE EUROCENTRIC than Afrocentric. That is a MAJOR problem and we don't even have to get into not accepted "here" (America), OR "there." (Africa). When "white" people can go back with no problem to their European roots, but African-Americans can't nobody sees the problem O_o..ME.....I really don't care, but it's the mindstate of "so", and we didn't help build America that pisses a whole lot of people that I know off..........and MOST of them are African -Americans (for a lack of a better word)

CommandantYT
CommandantYT

@theblumorpho "But you will still get PUNCHED IN YOUR RACIST FACE"  wow you are doing a great job dispelling the "stereotype" of the violent impulsive black!

GlobalRoamer
GlobalRoamer

@theblumorpho @rgerman1  

Do you even know what the word "racist" means?

I would caution against using any word without knowing it's meaning, even if the word begins with N.

Auttrianna
Auttrianna

@caligula1776 @studiesincrap How are blacks working to increase racial division? Blacks, Whites, Asians and Latinos came together and voted for a common cause this past November. Where's the division? As a African-American who has been blessed to rise out of poverty I see myself in the whites in this country that are stricken by poverty, I identify with them. Where is the division? Polling this year showed that African-Americans supported protecting illegal immigrants from forced deportation more than Hispanics (who popular rhetoric portrays as the most common illegal immigrants). Where's the division?  What language from the left has come out to further divide races in America?

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