Dr. Kristen Warner Analyzes DJANGO UNCHAINED
TCF assistant professor Kristen Warner has published “Django Unchained As Post-Race Product” in antenna. She begins:
Here’s a truth: 2012 has been a hell of a year regarding the state of race and its relationship to media and real life in the so-called “Post-Civil Rights, Post-Race era.” Beginning the year with Trayvon Martin, continuing with the gradual acceptance of the varied public utterances of racism toward the re-election of Barack Obama, and, with respect to this column, and fighting back against the controversy around casting a Black girl as Rue in the Hunger Games, this year has seemed to make me and many scholars of color like myself perhaps more sensitive than normal. This sensitivity is not just one of sadness or hurt but one of frustration; one of anger and contained rage. Because the outpouring of hateful discourse is too much and is ubiquitous and because it hides in plain sight and under protections of socialized ideologies like “racial colorblindness,” many of us (myself included) opt for silence in public venues. It is far more dangerous for me to respond to hateful rhetoric with my own because then I allow myself to be read as that stereotype. Moreover, because of the power of colorblindness, my acknowledging a racial wrong—or acknowledging race at all—results in the burden of proof resting on my shoulders. Still, these issues matter because to be frank, when race is in play our lives are at stake.
I begin with this truth to discuss Django Unchained because it informs my reluctance to discuss this film. I recognize that my ambivalence belongs to me and that many folks are happy to investigate, interrogate, segment and contextualize the film to determine if the film is harmful or not or plumbinterviews given by writer/director Quentin Tarantino to locate his intent in producing such a film. Excellent pieces by wonderful thinkers have emerged and I would do no service to them to repeat what they’ve already written. Instead, I want to offer a few points about how Django actually makes sense in our Post-Race world and why its “good” fit only cements the confusion about how to understand race contemporarily.