Don’t yank our “Django Unchained”! In other words, please don’t try to feed us B.S. about the movie “Django Unchained,” slavery, or the Black culture and experience as told through the eyes of the presumptuous director Quentin Tarantino. On this episode of The Axiom Amnesia Theory, Heit & Cheri dedicate the entire show to dissecting the controversy over Tarantin’s latest film, “Django Unchained.”

Topics discussed include Quentin Tarantino’s comments about Alex Haley’s “Roots,” whether “Roots” was an accurate depiction of slave life, movies with Black characters used as supporting roles to glorify non-Black lead characters, telling of Black stories by others, Spike Lee saying that Django was disrespectful to his ancestors, whether stories should only be written from personal experience in order to maintain authenticity, and more!

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Segment 1

  • Discussion about Quentin Tarantino’s new movie “Django Unchained.”

  • Quentin Tarantino made some controversial statements about Alex Haley’s miniseries “Roots“:

    “When you look at Roots, nothing about it rings true in the storytelling, and none of the performances ring true for me either,” says Tarantino. “I didn’t see it when it first came on, but when I did I couldn’t get over how oversimplified they made everything about that time. It didn’t move me because it claimed to be something it wasn’t.”
    Source: The Daily Beast

  • Mention of speculation that “Roots” was made up and/or plagiarism by Alex Haley.
  • So what if “Roots” wasn’t about Alex Haley’s family! It addressed so many aspects of what life was like for people living under slavery.
  • Discussion about whether “Roots” was an accurate depiction of slave life.
  • Discussion about how the dialogue in any story–even those based on a true story–is fiction. People have written the dialogue based on what they suppose must have occurred behind the scenes of historical events.
  • Discussion of the depth of the characters in the movie “Glory” versus the characters in “Roots.”
  • Django Unchained producer Reginald Hudlin says that the characters in “Glory” had much more depth than in “Roots.”
  • Discussion of the scene in “Roots” where the character Fiddler ponders why Kunta wants freedom so much. He reconciles that it doesn’t matter whether Kunta calls himself Toby because he know who he is–the name doesn’t define him. This was a comparison of the different mindsets between those born into slavery versus those born free.
  • Discussion about movies with Blacks in them that are not actually about Blacks. In these stories, Blacks play the supporting role to white main characters. This is the case with the movies “Glory,” “The Help,” and “Driving Miss Daisy.” The stories are really glorifying the white characters, yet people mistakenly think the story is about Blacks simply because Blacks are in the movie.
  • Discussion about the dialogue in the article, “Quentin Tarantino on Django Unchained and the Problem with ‘Roots’,” about whether Blacks would have revolted against whites under slavery (and in the movie).
  • Discussion about the telling of Black stories by other people who have no idea what they are talking about–stories by people who suppose to know and understand Blacks, yet are not Black. Far too many times we have people telling our stories with no input from us.
  • Who is Tarantino to think he can accurately depict the dynamics and culture of Blacks during slavery?
  • Discussion about the fact that many Blacks have seen Django Unchained, and encourage others to put money into Tarantino’s pockets by seeing the film.
  • Discussion about the order in which the actors in the movie are mentioned. If Jamie Foxx is the star, why do a few people appear before him in the headline?
  • Discussion about Leonardo DiCaprio’s character asking, “Why don’t all the Blacks just kill off all the whites?” So, are we to believe that it is the white character who must come up with this idea? This is a real commentary on how Tarantino views the Black characters.
  • Discussion about Spike Lee saying that Django was disrespectful to his ancestors, and that slavery wasn’t a spaghetti western.
  • django versus roots

  • Discussion about Tarantino’s decision to make slavery into a spaghetti western movie. Where is the authenticity and historical accuracy in that?
  • Most of what has been written about Black culture and history has been written by non-Blacks. It’s time for us to tell our own stories and have them appear as part of the historical record, rather than us appearing through the lens and interpretation of others who do not understand us.
  • Discussion about the image we posted, containing Tarantino’s statement about Roots. Some of the commenters tried to divert the attention away from the topic at hand.
  • Some people had the nerve to ask why we weren’t talking about Native American or white slaves in America. They were not slaves to the degree that Blacks were in the United States.
  • Discussion about how other wronged groups have received some form of reparations, while Blacks have only received a bit of assistance that is aimed at maintaining dependence on the government.
  • Discscussion about how Black directors like Spike Lee aren’t supported.
  • It is overstepping one’s bounds to think that you can tell someone else’s story accurately from the outside looking in–this applies whether it is race, gender, or other difference.
  • Discussion about what is “real” Hip Hop, and whether you should only write from your personal experience. Can you research and then write an authentic story line? You can speak on it from what you observe, but you cannot actually talk about it from the perspective of someone who lived it.
  • Discussion about the perfect timing of Tarantino’s controversial comments happening right around the time the movie comes out.
  • Discussion about the Blacks who pay to see the movie and don’t think about who they are supporting. Did they pay to see the last Spike Lee film?