I’m Django Unchained out. I’m tired of explaining why I liked it, tired of reading online dissertations, theses and history papers breaking down and over-analyzing yay or nay for why Django Unchained was liked or disliked; or being reminded about the downfall-of-all-of-black-humanity-and intelligentsia-because-of-the-audacity-of-a-privileged-white-man-callously-reimagining-slavery-and-the-drones-of-brainwashed-people-going-to-see-it. I’m exhausted. However, this firestorm of debate has confirmed some theories that I have brewing in my mind about human beings. So, here are six things that Django Unchained has taught me about life and people (specifically Spike Lee).
1. People don’t understand the concept of agree to disagree (in practice). This idea means—oh yes, I’m breaking it down—that I think differently about a subject matter than you do and that’s ok. We can express our opposing opinions without getting emotional and/or typing in ALL CAPS. We can be calm and without judgment while trying to see where the other person is coming from and do so respectfully while using our inside voices and not wanting to kill each other. The point of discussions like these should be enlightenment but if you’re yelling at me, getting defensive, willfully misinterpreting what I said, calling me names and making assumptions about how I think, then my response is going to be exactly what you’re giving me and neither one of us gets anywhere. Stop trying to prove that you’re right out of ego and make a real statement that has thoughtful impact.
2. Spike Lee doesn’t like Quentin Tarantino, we know. This goes out to all the journalists who take the opportunity to ask either director a question about the other in an attempt to get a rowdy answer so that you can boost traffic or viewership for your publication: Stop. It’s played out. *Bops you in the head with Homie Da Clown sock.*
3. Spike Lee possibly has a hate crush on Quentin Tarantino. Spike Lee is vocal about not being a Tarantino fan because he feels that Tarantino uses the n-word in his films too much. But it’s kind of like, every time he gets a platform to speak on this he does; he’s either lambasting Tarantino or Tyler Perry ad nauseam. After a while it goes from just voicing your opinion to looking kinda-sorta obsessed (read Donald Trump on Obama but not that intense in this case). Also, I don’t get why this extreme aversion that Spike Lee seems to have toward Tarantino exists since Martin Scorsese has used the in word in his films (and so have a bevy of other white directors) and Spike Lee looks up to Scorsese. This is definitely deeper than what any of us know, which brings me back to the hate crush thing. Sometimes even successful people get jealous of or frustrated with others, often for arbitrary reasons. If only I could be a fly on the wall, or had the power to become invisible.
4. People don’t seem to understand what character development actually is. And that is probably why basic (basic meaning simpleton, not uncomplicated) shit wins often. If a character uses the n-word then that’s who they are. Any writer or artist should certainly understand this. I got into it on Twitter with another writer who is very pro-Spike Lee. He couldn’t understand why I’m a Quentin Tarantino fan since he’s a “white man that uses the n-word excessively and in a racial context.” Um…no. Tarantino, as far as I know, does not use the n-word but his characters—who are often sociopaths and miscreants—do. This is what Tarantino wrote. I don’t think he’s “racist” and I don’t think he’s using the word subliminally to fulfill some fantasy about actually wanting to say it in real life. So, until Tarantino gets caught on tape doing racist stuff (I don’t put anything past anyone), I’m not sold—no pun intended. Also, find me a sociopath or social deviant in real life that is sensitive to matters like race. Why should fictional characters be any different if they are based on real personality types?
5. Some people, self-included, probably just want Spike Lee to shut the fuck up already. Spike Lee is talented and has the right to speak his piece. And I commend him for giving back to the black community. I do know for a fact that he has donated to other black movie-makers trying to make it ouchea in these Hollywood streets. One example would be Dee Rees, for the exceptional Pariah. However, lately, it seems that whenever Spike Lee is given a platform to speak, he’s either complaining about Tyler Perry or Quentin Tarantino, like I said, which makes him appear to be a hater, for lack of a better word (then again, this could just go back to the media always asking him questions that may get him riled up so I may be wrong). I am not one to automatically label anyone who criticizes anything a hater but when there’s nothing constructive or no answer to the despised thing, that seems like trite hate. Spike Lee often comes across as bitter when speaking on that ish he don’t like. Most people aren’t going to consider the behind the scenes and philanthropy work that Spike Lee is doing. They look at his seemingly unsuccessful (edit: in terms of reception) most recent mainstream bodies of work, which would be Red Hook Summer, Miracle at St. Ana and Inside Man (this isn’t counting documentaries, shorts and TV projects). Admittedly, the last Spike Lee movie I saw was She Hate Me, and I liked it, but based on recent reviews, chatter in real life and on the internets, people haven’t been impressed lately so he needs to shut up and focus. Make a bad good movie and put some of that Mo’ Better Blues or Malcolm X stank on it, or whatever has to be done.
6. People who often complain never have a solution (generally speaking). Bottom line is, if you don’t like what’s created then be the answer…and that answer isn’t writing an essay, it’s writing and screening your own movie. We can debate and not like something until we turn red in the face but eventually enough is enough. You don’t like it? Then don’t support it! Sure, we can say that black movie-makers don’t get play in Hollywood but that is a weak excuse—not that it’s not hard but if you can’t get in through the front or the back, then break a window. Where there’s a will there’s a way and all that cliché good stuff. So don’t talk about it, be about it and if you ain’t bout that life then stop complaining until you can do better.
P.S. Before some people reading this jump the gun—Internet style—here are a few facts about me:
-I like Spike Lee as a director but I’m not #TeamSpikeLee.
-I’m am #TeamTarantino, though.
-And even if I didn’t like Spike Lee, you ain’t gone do nothing but type combative diatribe and glare at your computer screen. Oh, ok.