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Race War Unchained: Why Quentin Tarantino Is Wrong About John Brown

"I just love him. He's just my favorite American."

by
David Forsmark

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August 24, 2013 - 1:00 pm
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Louis Farrakhan (approvingly) called it “Preparation for race war” while according to Brietbart’s Big Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning film Django Unchained was “The Most Pro-Freedom Movie of 2012.”

Then there was Marc Lamont Hill, the intellectual mediocrity of a Columbia professor who gets dragged out of mothballs when a racial event reaches pop status, says something stupidly outrageous, apologizes or clarifies, then gets put away until the next time.

On a CNN panel about the ghoulish fan club for rampaging LAPD ex-cop Christopher Dorner, who counted among his victims the Asian-American daughter of a cop who investigated him, Hill said:

And, many people aren’t rooting for him to kill innocent people: they’re rooting for someone who was wronged to get a kind of revenge against the system. It’s almost like watching Django Unchained in real life. It’s kind of exciting.

Perhaps the most famous off-screen line about the film came from an opening Saturday Night Live satirical monologue from Jamie Foxx that riffed on “how black is that,”

I play a slave. How black is that? And in the movie I had to wear chains. How whack is that? But don’t be worried about it because I get out the chains, I get free, I save my wife, and I kill all the white people in the movie. How great is that? And how black is that?

But in the film, Django does no such thing. In fact, [SPOILER ALERT] he teams with a white guy whose moral outrage eventually gets the better of him, and gets himself killed (and without whose help, Django would have accomplished none of his heroics.)

I recently grabbed Django Unchained at a Redbox, and found it far less a compelling re-watch than it was as a first time experience in the theater (and less disturbing, having watched it in an urban multiplex where audience reaction was, at times, appallingly inappropriate). This movie relies so much on shock value and surprising choices (particularly musically) that the second time around, some of the anachronisms become much more annoying.

And since Tarantino himself brought up history…

Next: Django Unchained is much like the rhetoric that helped cause the Civil War.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
As a man who's passion is history it made my day to see your article on John Brown and the truth about the abolitionists. Unfortunately there is a tidal wave of propaganda raging against truth and it will take an earth shattering event or events to bring sanity back to our country.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (14)
All Comments   (14)
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The Mason Dixon line was all about the balance of power. One day that balance was going to be broken. Every state brought into the Union threatened that balance. Immigration and population growth threatened that balance.

So there was gong to be a collision over slavery. Legally I think the South had the right to secede. Morally they were seceding for immoral reasons.

The founders were great men. Some inherited a culture that entrapped them. They could not gore their own ox. they realized that sloavery should be done away with. Jefferson freed a few slaves and Washington freed them all, but it was hard for them to diminish themselves economically. I doubt anyone who berates them could do it either.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Posted in wrong place. This is in reply to JF Sanders
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've read a few accounts of the events of Harpers Ferry.

I kinda of like John Brown. He didn't just grouse. Now I am having severe doubts.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I may be the weirdo here, but I've always seen the Abolitionists as partly to blame for the climate that created the Civil War. They had their fanatics as did the South. Frederick Douglass talks about it in his autobiography, how whenever he went to speak to them they wanted him to use the 'plantation dialect' instead of speaking well; they didn't want to believe that a black man could be so quickly well-educated. Abolitionism included a great deal of racism; it was paternalistic and jingoistic, but the South shot first, and was just as hot for a war. And just because they were wrong in some things doesn't mean the Abolitionists were wrong about slavery--they were dead right. It's hard today to reconcile racism with anti-slavery, but racism was THE scientific theory of the age; it held the pride of place currently held by evolution. Everybody was racist, because anybody who questioned the established science of racism was scolded as a religious weirdo or kook. It makes me admire men like Col. Robert Shaw and Gen. Lawrence Chamberlin the more, because they overcame not only whatever innate xenophobia they held from childhood, but also defied the received wisdom of their time to defy racism and its ugly daughter eugenics, Chamberlin later in life but Shaw as a very young man. In Shaw's case it would have to be, since he died at 23. Racism as a scientific theory has never really gone away despite the thorough discrediting it received at the hands of the Nazis. Genetics is slowly chipping away at it, but the old ideas are still around, taught in every school though in slightly different terms than formerly. The real problem is and has always been tribalism; racism just upped the ante from local tribes into imaginary races. Tribalism is still alive and well, and indeed growing again like the malignant cancer it is. In this both Abolitionists and Slavocrats were guilty, dehumanizing the other tribes to justify whatever deeds need justification. One would think we'd learn from history, but it's hard to swim against the tide, and Tribalism is innate to human nature. It has to be overcome in every single individual.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nice post
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
So which was worse, the abolitionists or slavery? For some strange reason, you seem to believe that because Brown was a fanatic, and because he committed murder (as revenge for some Proslavery murders - Lawrence, Kansas 1856), we should ignore the horror of the evil he was fighting against.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
"On the other hand, if a young person is convinced that this was typical slaveholder behavior, that all slaveholders should be slaughtered — and oh, by the way, a chunk of the Founders were slaveholders, and they wrote this Constitution you are told to care about…"

The damage to the reputation of the founders was done long before this film came out. Young people have even conflated the slave-owning founders with all founders and decided that the ideas of that time are not worth considering.

There's no nuance in thought for these kids. Even if a practice is so bad to be considered, now, horrific, the fact that it was socially acceptable means that the people who were participating didn't understand they were doing anything wrong. This means good people can do bad things. Heck, bad people can do good things.

The people who don't understand this follow the philosophical and economic teachings of a man who blamed wealthy people for every ill of the world, but was of old money, himself, and lived off of his parents (whom he abused), rather than work a day in his life. They follow a bad man who did bad things through bad teachings who simply sugar coated it all with the language of "equality", so it would sound nice. They CAN'T understand nuance, or they'd realize their philosophy when, viewed below the surface of it's "kind-hearted" rhetoric, is actually evil.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
In that last sentence "philosophy when, viewed" should read "philosophy, when viewed".
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why on earth does anyone care about anything Tarantino does, says, or thinks?

Sure, it's a free country (sort of) but do you know what he's done with his life? The man's made millions by making movies that are unbelievably violent, racist, bloody, filthy and borderline pornographic. Why should movies such as "Kill Bill", "Pulp Fiction" and "Reservoir Dogs" get so much attention? What does the man responsible for them have to tell us that's uplifting, encouraging or praiseworthy? I can think of nothing.

What I find intolerably sad is that many Americans who instantly recognize Tarantino's name have no idea who Jason Dunham was: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jason_Dunham.

Read about Jason and then decide which kind of man -- him or Tarantino -- is deserving of your attention.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
>> If the Confederacy had had Winchester 73s, they would have won the war rather easily.

Um, if they had then the Union would have had them too, don't you think?

>> reminded me of the kind of slander and wild stories put out by the Abolitionists to stir up war — both race and civil.

The myth of the Lost Cause. It was the abolitionists fault. Well Kennedy believed his own rhetoric right up until his federal marshals were getting beat up with lead pipes over little kids going to school and southern governors were explaining to the papers and to him that the violence was the feds fault. Didn't they know better than to send people down to tell them what to do? It is then he discovered the wisdom of questioning the Lost Cause he'd perpetuated. And he learned the value of reading C. Vann Woodward, a southerner that could explain the South, rather than obscure it.

John Brown is a complex figure, and he has gone from hero to lunatic and back several times in American history. Any attempt to cast him easily as hero or villain plainly, as the author does, just shows a simple-mindedness that is arrogance. It is more complex than that. Ethics is more complex than that. Life is more complex than that. Even looking into the American opinion on him over time would be enlightening. But no, our author has chose to do none of those things and declare himself wiser than Americans of past generations and declared the obvious solution by the wisdom of a book that isn't well regarded by even serious amateurs.

There is a word for that folks. It is called the "neophyte's conceit". He's smarter than the idiots who understood things about Brown that he doesn't, and know that the matter is more complex than he can see. Brown wasn't good or bad, Brown was Brown. And last time I checked the sins of omission weren't repealed, which all these simplistic accounts of ethics omit to deal with. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I'm with Allstonian, the movie punches the right buttons and those who see more are the ones who really are misguided. And those who've discovered the war through simplistic and ultimately political books such as "A Disease in the Public Mind". There were diseases on both sides, and to focus on one is to make a political play. Serious men will look deeper and find more.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
When looking at John Brown one has to remember Bleedng Kansas.

But on the whole Harpers Ferry looks ill advised tactically.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Brown was a fanatic, and had a tendency that all fanatics have.

That tendency is to view issues in absolutes, with themselves being right and anyone disagreeing with them as being wrong.

What's more, Brown crossed the line into that rare catagory of fanatics who took their own absolute correctness to the extreme of seeing themselves as justified in committing murder.

No complexity about it, he was an a$$hole who deserved to be put down - but the North needed their heroes to justify their actions, even if they had to fabricate them from jerks like Brown....
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Django is the equivalent of Inglorius Basterds - nonsense and fluff, purporting itself to be relevant, because it punches the proper emotive buttons in some people.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
As a man who's passion is history it made my day to see your article on John Brown and the truth about the abolitionists. Unfortunately there is a tidal wave of propaganda raging against truth and it will take an earth shattering event or events to bring sanity back to our country.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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