Tag Archives: Spike Lee

Black to the Oscars

Well readers, it was exactly one week ago that actress Jada Pinkett Smith announced her decision not to attend this year’s Academy Awards, citing a distinct lack of diversity in the nominees. In a brief video [embedded below], Pinkett Smith expressed her frustration at the apparent exclusion of people of color in the “mainstream”, and declared that “…begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity.”


Upon hearing this, the nation has since had a moment of quiet reflection over the issues Miss Pinkett Smith has brought up, calmly and honestly discussing the root issues facing the representation of-

Nah, I’m just kidding. People went ape****.

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Cue the torrent of self-righteous indignation as folks started positively shrieking about reverse-racism, hypocrisy, and entitlement. And as more and more figures have come out in support of (or at least, sympathy with) Pinkett Smith’s cause, the outrage has only grown with it. It seems that you can’t go anywhere online without running into something like this:

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Or this:

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Or this:

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For the record, the stats on this lead to incorrect conclusions- but we can talk about that later.

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Evan and Gordon Talk: Django Unchained

GORDON: You know what they call a quarter pounder with cheese in France?

EVAN: What?

GORDON: A poor attempt at distracting our readers from the fact that we ain’t gonna be talking about drugs like we said we would.

EVAN: I have seen very few Tarantino films, and only barely recognize the references.

GORDON: You make me sad.

EVAN: I know.

That aside, what we’re going to be talking about today is Django Unchained, a movie I finished watching less than an hour ago and the subject of this Monday’s post [written by Gordon].

GORDON: So what did you think?

EVAN: Initial thoughts are: Very long. Not what I expected. Apparently in Django’s world everyone is a skinbag filled to bursting with blood.

GORDON: Speaking as someone who’s fired black-powder guns, I can actually kinda see something like that happening.

EVAN: That is ridiculous, but interesting to know.

Now if you don’t have anything in particular you wanted to talk about, did you want to maybe address Spike Lee’s reaction to this film really quick?

GORDON: The Lee-Tarantino feud has been going on for a long time now, so I really wasn’t surprised that Lee reacted the way he did. I naturally wish he had at least seen the movie, but I don’t think it would’ve made a difference in his mind.

EVAN: To give readers a little context, director Spike Lee tweeted:

American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them.

He also straight-up said “I cant speak on it ’cause I’m not gonna see it. All I’m going to say is that it’s disrespectful to my ancestors. That’s just me…I’m not speaking on behalf of anybody else.”

GORDON: I get where he’s coming from, but (1) I don’t think the movie dishonors the slaves and (2) I don’t think that there should be any time period off-limits for telling stories.

EVAN: I definitely agree with both points. Tarantino does not disrespect the plight of slaves during the time period, and there are really no eras of history that we shouldn’t be allowed to explore through various media. How it’s done is what matters.

GORDON: It’s Tarantino; you either love him or you hate him. He does a spastic, scatterbrained style of movie which is two parts tense dialogue and three parts references to obscure exploitation flicks. It is what it is.

EVAN: So did you like it?

GORDON: I did, but not as much as his other movies. And not for the subject matter, simply for the storytelling. I felt it was anticlimatic. Especially compared to his second latest, Inglourious Basterds.

EVAN: Very much agreed. You expect [SPOILER ALERT YOU’VE BEEN WARNED] Monsieur Candy to be killed by Django, or at least in a big way, but instead he’s just shot by Dr. Schultz with his sleeve-Deringer.

GORDON: And there’s still plenty left in the film, we just kinda trudge through it. I simply wasn’t impressed. I mean- I ain’t asking for a John Wu fightscene, but something more than [SERIOUSLY YOU GUYS, SPOILERS] Django shooting unarmed people from the top of the plantation stairs.

But as far as the whole thing goes, relatively amusing and a major stepping stone in addressing the subject of slavery.

EVAN: I mean, sort of going back to where Lee was coming from, it’s not a very realistic depiction by any means, a revenge story of this fashion can’t be. That being said, isn’t it the same sort of concept as Inglourious Basterds? Revenge enacted by the persecuted?

GORDON: That’s exactly what it is. A revenge fantasy. Bad guys being killed by the people who they oppressed. It gives us a feeling of divine judgment upon the wicked. Which is a theme a lot of westerns have.

REVENGE.

EVAN: I have seen at least one, and you are not wrong.

GORDON: I think what Lee needs to get is this:

This was not a movie about slavery, this was a movie about revenge set in the world of slavery. This wasn’t- and shouldn’t be- taken as a commentary of any kind about African-Americans anymore than Kill Bill should be taken as a commentary on women.

You wanna pick a fight with Tarantino, do it over something that’s actually there. (And just so everyone knows, I really like Spike Lee’s work and admire the guy as an individual)

EVAN: So you’re saying that slavery must be viewed as a backdrop, and not the subject matter? I know that you wrote your Monday post on this, but we can go over it just a little.

GORDON: That’s exactly it. It’s not a history film, it’s a Tarantino film. Don’t look for realism there, and don’t look for buoyancy in a nightstand; it’s not what either of them are for.

EVAN: I agree with you to a point, in that the exploration of slavery was in no means Tarantino’s intent. It’s just difficult to look past that as subject matter when it permeates the film [what with it opening up on a slave’s scarred back, etc].

GORDON: That is true, and you can question whether or not it’s right for Tarantino to use the subject matter to shock and horrify people and draw in crowds, but from what I saw and understood of the film the scenes of horror inflicted upon the slaves were, what’s the word for this, “respectful?” enough to indicate that even blood-and-guts Quentin wasn’t unaware of what he was dealing with.

EVAN: I can accept that. Two more thoughts as we wrap up this talk: the soundtrack and Samuel L. Jackson as a real life Uncle Ruckus.

GORDON: The soundtrack sucked. We can all agree on this. Usually he can make it work- this time he didn’t.

EVAN: My cousin and I actually really liked it.

GORDON: Really? I couldn’t disagree more. I felt it lacked cohesion, which the soundtracks in his other works normally have. Heck, more often than not it’s the commonalities in the soundtracks trying the whole thing together.

EVAN: I felt like the more contemporary hip-hop rap tracks were a little bit jarring, but thought the other songs overall were good picks.

GORDON: We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. Let’s move on.

EVAN: Samuel L. Jackson’s character.

If you don’t know who that is on the right you need to start watching The Boondocks right now. Finish this post first, then immediately go find an episode online or something.

GORDON: I thought he knocked it out of the park. Didn’t have any problem with him whatsoever.

EVAN: 1) Did not know Samuel L. Jackson could play such a convincing old man. 2) Sycophants in films are normally played up for comedic value, and that is no less the case here.

GORDON: Let’s not forget that Jackson was not only an active member of the civil rights movement, but even associated with some of its more radical leaders.

EVAN: That is something that I, and presumably our readers, did not know.

To end this off, did you have a favourite moment in the film? [I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO WARN ABOUT SPOILERS, BUT I AM ANYWAY]

GORDON: For me, it would have to be the scene where Christoph Waltz (who really stole the show) was explaining bounty-hunting the Django in the bar. The dude is awesome to watch.

EVAN: Christoph Waltz’s accent was amazing. I could listen to him talk all day.

My personal favourite was the posse getting ready to go kill Django and Schultz and arguing about the masks. The dialogue was hilarious, and Jonah Hill was a nice surprise, too.

GORDON: That was awesome. And speaking of awesome stuff, our discussion topic for next week:

EVAN: Ah man, I kind of just want to talk about movies. Could we somehow generally address the trend towards big budget sci-fi flicks that’s coming about in Hollywood?

GORDON: No. No more movies. We do ’em too much already.

EVAN: Fine, fine. Suggestions?

GORDON: College: what should its purpose be? Careers or Well-Rounded Individuals?

EVAN: Or just in general, I’m not sure it has to go one of two ways. But that’s a good one. I’m on board.

Thanks everyone for reading, and for continuing to unwittingly stumble upon our blog in 2013! Evan and Gordon out.