ethnic revenge in american movies
All the Django haters are missing the point. Sure, if you hate the n-word, Django is going to piss you off. And if you think that a nerdy video store clerk isn’t in a position to make a movie about slavery, you may have a point, but you really don’t because it’s a revenge fantasy, not a documentary, and not a movie like the Color Purple or even friggin’ Beloved. Not the same ballpark, not even the same sport.
Django Unchained is all about the catharsis. We indulge in childish fantasy about the wretched of the earth getting even for all that’s gone down since 1492. But Django isn’t alone in its desire to stick it to the Man. We now have a whole ream of ethnic revenge movies. We had Machete, which is about the perversity of the border. You could even count Harold and Kumar as ethnic revenge. Yes, it’s a stoner movie, but it’s about Asian stoners who show up their obnoxious White bosses at White Castle.
I hate “post-racial” because it implies that race isn’t important. But the ethnic revenge movie could only exist in a post-racial society. You really couldn’t have a Django, Machete, or Harold and Kumar in 1955. Something is different. It’s now ok to admit that a lot of people have a legitimate claim on being really pissed off and it’s ok to talk about it. But why is it ok to indulge in the violent revenge fantasy? On one level, it’s because some folks really did deserve it. Did anyone not cheer when Hitler got shot in Inglorious Basterds? The deeper point is that no one is remotely serious about revenge because, frankly, things are better, way, way better. That isn’t post-racial, but it is post-something.