Django Unchained knows that America’s relationship to slavery was not merely through legal institutions; it was a physical reaction to black flesh — a potently horrific mixture of abjection fused with desire. That physical sensation is what distinguishes American racism from the racism of Europe or the British Empire, where the hatred of black people was (and still is) rooted in a fundamentally intellectual contempt inscribed in law and custom.

The Oscars likes its racial redemption delivered by white people, through clean, legal means that can be accompanied by swelling music. But Django Unchained is more honest (and much more enjoyable) than Lincoln. Tarantino understands that the laws were only the screen of the real crimes of torture and rape and murder. Redemption for Tarantino comes through genuine respect for and pleasure at the African aspect of the American experience. The soundtrack contains hip-hop as well as spirituals, which is entirely appropriate. The redemption comes, not really through revenge or law, but through love.
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