Not going to see Django Unchained for the same reason I didn’t go to see Inglorious Basterds. They are two versions of the same thing. I’m sure that Django is technically and brilliant and inter-textual. But while I can’t say anything about “the film,” I can say that “the idea” makes me squeamish. It’s the notion of a movie about slavery, or the Holocaust that makes (?!) one feel good. To put it bluntly, I read with great disgust in the New York Times how at the private screening of Basterds the students at the Jewish Theological Seminary cheered and stomped their feet.
For a remarkable criticism of Tarantino, Django, and the Hollywood system, see this one by Cecil Brown: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/01/01/hollywoods-nigger-joke/. Or this one by Remeike Forbes://jacobinmag.com/2013/01/why-django-cant-revolt/
As for me, what I don’t like is this combination of cynical catharsis and naïve catharsis, the suddenly solemn apologetic that there’s nothing wrong here, that “art is fantasy, not fact,” that “you can’t censor art” juxtaposed to $15,000,000 at the box-office and counting.
On this, I’m a realist-fundamentalist. I hated Life is Beautiful, the stupidest movie ever made about the Holocaust and humor, and also the apotheosis of art in Roman Polanski’s more high-minded The Pianist. For some reason I could barely stand Schindler’s List, probably because Spielberg always kept his eye on the collective mass, i.e. the people. About these kinds of things, I think the only thing one should or want to or need to feel is rotten, pure and simple, with nothing left over. That’s what it means to take these things “seriously.” If it’s violence and revenge, I’d rather read or look at anything related to Sherman’s March or watch Frank Capra’s The Battle of Russia (1943), which you can see in its entirety here.
When did we lose the taste for bitterness?