12 Years a Slave & Django Unchained are Oscar winners, but which did you prefer?
I preferred Django Unchained to 12 years a slave, no contest. I’m one of those people who doesn’t think many films made in Hollywood deserve much intellectual merit. The depiction of slavery was accurate yes, and I’ve read enough about slavery to grasp that. Roots, Confessions of Nat Turner, and Beloved are all good reads. But to hear Nigger…this and Nigger that, watch horrid torturous scenes, seeing little black children treated like animals, (and once again), black women raped was demoralising. I kept imagining it was me getting whipped, beaten, shackled and spat on and it was a surreal feeling. Thanks Steve McQueen, your doing a wonderful job representing your own race.
I think its sad that I had to endure such retched self reflection through watching a film that was even nominated for oscars, let alone winning any. Twelve years wasn’t even worthy of an MTV award in my opinion. There were plenty of other wholesome good movies that didn’t need the super taboo of slavery or any other historical atrocity to give it value. Gravity was definitely a more worthy contender for me, because even though it had masses of black just like 12 years a slave, it wasn’t half as degrading.
No movie based on historic genocidal fact has been so vivid in its approach at getting the underlining emotion across to the viewer, and there were parts of the movie which were handled well. The other 90% of it though, I’m not so sure.
I didn’t need to see a black woman selling herself left right and centre for a bar of soap. A piece of soap which made it more comfortable for her to be raped. She should have kept it dirty in my opinion, then Fassbender wouldn’t have been so eager to brutalise young Nyong’o. That part of the film shocked me more than any to be honest, and here we go with proving to the world what worth black women have in this society. You don’t have to agree, but the black woman in film is usually portrayed as the most worthless creature ever. I’ve seen many animals treated with much more dignity than black women . Her performance was good though. Ejiofor, I didn’t think was anything special, he played the good slave negro well. But Michael Fassbenders performance I really enjoyed. The lust, confusion and violence was well balanced and hard felt. Harrowing.
What I think most slavery portrayals miss is the economical and psychological aspect of slavery. The psychological being much more destructive than the physical. It is touched upon in the film , but the repression of education lead to a limited mindset and an unwarranted acceptance about the position slaves found themselves in.
‘Oh I’m black so….yeah….everyone else is a slave so….yeah….my master feeds me and clothes me so….yeah I’ll just stay here and not say nothing for my whole life until death gives me the freedom I deserve.’
What gets me, is the slaves outnumbered the white folk on many occasions and never took advantage. Instead they chose to play instruments, dance, sing & wipe up the s**t their masters threw at them. Its embarrassing for black people to continuously be portrayed this way. There were plenty of instances in black history where black people were courageous, and I think if creative portrayals of slavery focussed on these positive parts, instead of highlighting the demoralisation of the whole race, maybe black people wouldn’t be so psychologically insecure as they are today. Not many black people read books you see, so the TV is all they have to go by, poor guys.
Every time a black person in film is shown as being stupid and soft, it sticks with the entire race. Unfortunately it does, because the history of black people is so fragile. And yes, Ejiofor was an ‘engineer type’, but every other black was dumb, and timid and in some way deserved the suffering they went through. The constant negative representations in all films validates the oppressors actions. Actors and actresses who continue to take these roles and not be OUTRAGED by the portrayals just pump steroids into the stereotypes. Some actors make their names off these sorts of film, and of course work is work, but to keep this black slave cinema s**t alive is catastrophic to an already troubled race of people.
So, where’s Jamie Fox when you really need him!
Django was conceptually different, but the slavery aspect existed heavily in both films. McQueen and Tarantino are different directors too, and I didn’t expect Ejifor to start chopping off heads and shooting down the baddies, however, cinematic expression is important and influential to perception, and I think a topic such as slavery has to be dealt with in a more pragmatic way. Ejifor was the perfect pitch for this role physically, lighter skinned, small, humble face. I couldn’t see Denzel, Will Smith or Idris playing this role because they are recognized as strong black men, and this role was fitting for a weak slave type.
Black people have too many problems in this world as it is. It doesn’t matter if the director was black, the two slave characters have African names in real life, or Brad Pitt was in it. Slavery should no longer be relevant, and if a movie has to be made, tread more carefully in the depiction of the abused.
No one roots for a complete loser, no matter how abused they’ve been. You choose.