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The prolific filmmaker, whose films — including Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X and his most recent, Red Hook Summer — often address race in America, said in an interview that he won’t be seeing Quentin Tarantino‘s new Western about slave vengeance, starring Jamie Foxx.
“I can’t speak on it ’cause I’m not gonna see it,” he told Vibe magazine. “All I’m going to say is that it’s disrespectful to my ancestors. That’s just me. … I’m not speaking on behalf of anybody else.”
Later, Lee continued to criticize the film’s take on the subject matter, which alternates between the brutal, including depictions of torture and whippings, and the comic, highlighted by much of the dialogue assigned to Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio.
“American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western.It Was A Holocaust.My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them,” Lee tweeted, which he then followed with responses to fans both critical and supportive of his stance.
After a fan wrote that Django was just a film and not to be taken seriously, Lee responded, “Wrong.Birth Of A Nation Got Black Folks Lynced [sic]. Media Is Powerful. DON’T SLEEP. WAKE UP YO.”
Lee has long been a critic of Tarantino, whose films often deal with race in controversial ways. Following the release of Tarantino’s 1997 blacksploitation tribute, Jackie Brown, Lee said, “I have a definite problem with Quentin Tarantino’s excessive use of the n-word. And let the record state that I never said that he cannot use that word — I’ve used that word in many of my films — but I think something is wrong with him.”
With its 100-plus uses of the n-word and graphic depiction of slavery, Django has drawn its own debate, with many split on whether it belittles slavery or highlights its atrocities.
“He’s smushing slavery and its ills in our faces. It’s not sanitized and pretty,” MSNBC host Toure told The Hollywood Reporter. On the other hand, film critic Dwight Brown told THR that “lots of the violence in the movie feels more like a caricature than a re-enactment. The kind of bloodshed and brutality you’d see in a horror film or a superficial action movie, versus what you might find in a real drama.”
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