In the last few weeks I have seen the two movies related to Black life in America, Lincoln and Django. One enlightened me, and one entertained me. Lincoln, I can suggest that my grandchildren go and see. Django is vulgar, funny at times, and provides a glimpse into the harshness of slavery, but I would rather my grandchildren not see it. Since the young people need to learn of the harshness of slavery, it would be better to see Alex Haley’s “Roots.”
The movie, Lincoln, provides a historical look at the United States as it fought to extricate itself from the ugly institution of Slavery. It is a one Issue movie. Slavery, Slavery, more Slavery, and the price America paid getting rid of slavery. In a nutshell the movie demonstrates the distinction between the Emancipation Proclamation and the thirteenth Amendment. Even I, after practicing Law for thirty years now, didn’t realize that the Emancipation Proclamation did not free the slaves and it took the Thirteenth Amendment to make it happen.
The present day examples are the various voting rights bills granting Blacks the right to vote essentially under the Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection under the law. That is why there are various laws required to renew the right of Blacks to vote in various states. It would be different if there was a Constitutional Amendment that says African Americans shall have the right to vote.
Likewise, Django is a one Issue movie: love, and the price a man pays for putting his family back together. The problem with Django, as with so many movies today, is the gratuitous profanity that kids will learn from living in the world. We certainly don’t need to pay money to go to a movie to learn how to use the “F” word or “M-F” or others which Jamie Fox and Samuel L. Jackson seem to enjoy saying.
As a note: I once happened upon a channel where Fox was sitting at the piano and singing a song that I presume he made up. It simply said “F— you” “F— you”, over and over, with chord changes. Jackson, on the other hand, wrote a book called, “Shut the F— up and go to sleep.” And we wonder why our kids are vulgar. For these things we make them rich, cute.
And then there is the liberal use of the “N” word in Django. I’ve complained about the Rappers using it for years. In Django, it bothers me less as it seems to have historical significance in a peculiar sort of way. That was the way it was in pre-civil war southern states. Part of the movie was set in Mississippi, after all. For me it just provides another argument for not trying to mainstream the ugly word as Black Rappers have tried so hard to do.
Django does Black America a disservice with all of the profanity as it surely is a movie that young Blacks could benefit from seeing. They could learn that there should be no price too high to pay for your loved ones. The movie is the dramatization of the words in an old song sang, I think, by Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell: “Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no river wide enough to keep me from you.” However, the language in Django is just a bit much. It’s the equivalent of teaching kids sex education by showing porno movies. They may learn something about technique, but because of immaturity, they will probably get jaded or just plain messed up in the process.
As we approach Black History Month, I suggest that you take the kids to see Lincoln, but Django has an R rating for a good reason. Only grown folks are allowed to see this movie.