Django: Black Jesus Unchained
There has been much critique and controversy surrounding the new Quentin Tarantino movie “Django Unchained”. In particular I keep coming across a consistent critique on the depictions of violence throughout the movie. While cinematic violence is a topic worthy of debate within American cinema I find a certain sense of irony that this critique is being levied on this movie when there are innumerable movies in the cinematic landscape also worthy of such criticism. There are numerous reasons for this of course, of which I can’t possibly get into here. However, I have been mulling over the ones that pertain to religion for the last few days.
The consistent portrayal of white males in American action films speak to cultural religious beliefs within American culture.
White males in the role of the “action hero” appropriate messianic propensities that are consistent with right wing evangelical conservative beliefs in a raptured white jesus returning to save his beloved believers while exacting vengeful punishment on fallen sinners.
Django challenges this imagery more so than any other black protagonist by placing Django in the role of messianic deliverer, a black jesus, in the most controversiveryal period of American history, chattel slavery, exacting punishment on a culture of white supremacy that has neither come to terms with their sins or acknowledged them but instead misappropriated their sins on the very people and person (in the form of Django) who has come back to punish them.
This is unheard of in American cinematic history. This is a response to the mythology and utter fabrication of D.W. Griffith’s “Birth Of A Nation” that posits the “christian” Klansmen as the heroic protagonists saving ‘innocent whites’ from the dark evil of the African negro. One could argue that every narrative since the screening of that movie in the White House in 1915 has been the archetype for American cinematic hero narratives in some way shape or form up to present times.