December 27, 2012 by Ben Crystal
The days between Christmas and New Year’s always seem to bring about a bit of the lazy in all of us. Fortunately, Hollywood rides to the rescue during the holidays; proffering blockbusters aplenty to keep you — and more importantly, your family — from potential harm inflicted by inappropriately swinging your new 3-wood in the kitchen.
Nonetheless, millions of my fellow citizens will meander to their local megaplexes in the next few days. Being the helpful sort of fellow I am, I thought “why not catch a movie and then yammer about it in print for the Personal Liberty Digest™?” Since Bob Livingston wasn’t around to say something like “that’s the kind of idea which makes me consider replacing you with a syndicated horoscope;” off to the theater I went.
If you DO decide to brave the crowds, there ARE a few films worth watching. “Django Unchained” is seriously not among them. Quentin Tarantino’s latest effort carries a tremendous amount of either buzz or baggage; depending on your perspective. Truth be told, Tarantino’s direction doesn’t ring any bells for me. Although I’m a fan of “Reservoir Dogs,” I insist that Tarantino’s movies are self-indulgent schlock. They employ stunt-casting, bizarrely stylized violence and spectacular profanity to tell tasteless tales about almost routinely horrendous people. Some might suggest that’s the point; but I would retort that I already know what monotony sounds like; I don’t need to pay to hear it.
“Django Unchained”purports to proffer a tale of a slave who gains his freedom with the help of a white man; and then sets about killing pretty much every white person he encounters. I suppose there’s some sort of empowerment message contained therein; but it gets lost in the same profane, non-stop violence which turns every Tarantino flick into a funhouse-mirror reflection of the old “Blaxploitation” films of the 1970s. If Tarantino wanted to share a message about the plight of blacks in post-slavery America, he certainly had room in the script for it. In between bouts of semi-dimensional characters delivering paper-thin pronouncements on… something, the dreaded “n-word” appears nearly as often as the word “the.”
Ostensibly an homage to the spaghetti westerns of the 1960s, “Django Unchained” stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Christopher Walz and the man who called President Barack Obama “our Lord and Savior,” Jamie Foxx. In addition to his fawning over his big buddy Barack, Foxx is essentially the actors’ version of Tarantino: a marginal talent who has benefitted from remarkably fortuitous timing and a magnificent lack of humility. During publicity touring for the film, Foxx crowed about getting to “…kill all the white people… how great is that?” I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised; nor should I have ever expected better. I could say Foxx is a hypocrite for appearing in a film like “Django Unchained” while lecturing the rest of us about our conduct; but suggesting some Hollywood bubblehead is a hypocrite is hardly an earth-shattering revelation.
And Foxx revels in all of it. In fact, amidst nearly 2.5 hours of non-stop gratuitous EVERYTHING (except worthy storytelling), Foxx barely contains his glee. As I watched the film, I couldn’t exorcise the last image of Foxx I saw, pre-Django. Following the Newtown nightmare, Foxx joined some of his fellow Left Coast lightweights in filming a YouTube spot demanding an end to so-called “gun violence… for the children.”
I’m hardly a puritan, but I hope I’m not the only one who catches the dichotomy of pretending to worry about guns and children while simultaneously appearing in the title role of a film which features more killing than a serial killers’ convention and more frequent cursing and racist language than a busload of Democrats passing the home of Justice Clarence Thomas.
People like Foxx shouldn’t really affect us. But in the age of a tabloid Presidency, it’s tragically apropos to see him palling around with Obama and being taken seriously on issues like violence and our children. What’s worse — as bloviating Hollywood hypocrites move into central roles in the national discourse, voices of sanity are muted.
“Django Unchained” hurls gunplay, violence, profanity and racial epithets; all in an effort to hide a lousy film. I suppose it might qualify as a guilty pleasure; but it’s not worth the price and the hassle. Come to think of it, it’s not just a perfect metaphor for some smug Hollywood hypocrites — it’s a perfect metaphor for the Democratic Party.