Dashiki Dialogues: Tarantino’s unforgivable whiteness

2013-01-27 10:00

Every white male knows they will be lynched if they go around calling black people niggers or kaffirs in this day and age.

And those who do understand this too.

In fact, they do so knowing that people will be offended, and at times that’s the intention.

So what possessed film director Quentin Tarantino to put the n-word on steroids and let it loose on his latest brilliant film, Django Unchained?

Well, because it would be strange to present African slavery in America without coming face to face with that word, at the least.

I am not sure who would have been done a favour if we’d been given a sanitised version of collective memory, as demanded by those who cried foul – but I suspect it is the beneficiaries of the heinous fruits of white supremacy.

I’m surprised as much furore was not created by Tarantino’s graphic portrayal of a black man being fed, literally, to dogs.

But what sins does Tarantino really commit?

The 49-year-old made a spectacular film about a freed slave who becomes a cartoonish superhero out for justice; gun toting and regal, he rides his horse in all his cowboy glory.

Forget John Wayne, there’s a sharp-shooting nigger on a horse and he’s getting paid for killing slave-owning whities in the American south. What’s not to like? Like, can you spell racial ex post facto catharsis through Hollywood?

But hold your horses.

Tarantino is guilty of one central thing in this race-laden discourse.

Like all darkie-loving liberal whites around the white-dominated world, Tarantino is guilty of his unforgivable whiteness.

It is best exemplified by his hero being mentored by a philanthropic white male figure.

Now, basic justice teaches us that beneficiaries of a crime, however well meaning, have no right to lecture us on the nature of that crime.

It’s for this reason that Black Consciousness 101 has been teaching liberal whites in South Africa to go work among their own.

I have heard some people saying Django Unchained is guilty of historical revisionism.

I think they forget this is not a period drama (and it’s not at all historically accurate, and doesn’t try to be).

It’s a superhero flick that borrows from historical themes, albeit problematic ones.

In my view, the film is only revisionist if we believe anyone would go to Tarantino, who already offered up a major alternate history in Inglourious Basterds, for history lessons.

I’m not saying darkies should not be critical of any film about our historical trauma at the hands of a white man’s ancestors.

Darkies should be loud and inconsolably critical because white supremacists never hesitated to brutalise us.

That might be a hard dialogue for any cowboy in a dashiki, but it has to be had.

 

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