a digital common place book | an @s_m_i production | one of a few

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.
Mr. Spielberg’s “Lincoln” helps perpetuate the notion that African Americans have offered little of substance to their own liberation. While the film largely avoids the noxious stereotypes of subservient African-Americans for which movies like “Gone With the Wind” have become notorious, it reinforces, even if inadvertently, the outdated assumption that white men are the primary movers of history and the main sources of social progress.
- An even better takedown here:

In short, the idea that the white north “gave” freedom to the slaves draws from and reinforces an attractively simple and flattering myth, one which formed around the old historiography of the period like a noose cutting off oxygen to the brain: the myth that black slaves were rendered passive by their condition, and that—absent an outside force interrupting their state of un-freedom—they would simply have continued, as slaves, indefinitely. It’s only in this narrative that freedom can be a thing which is given to them: because they are essentially passive and inert, they require someone else—say, a great emancipator—to step in and raise them up.

In Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln,’ Passive Black Characters - NYTimes.com

If the motion picture were an art form that involved the olfactory senses - in other words, if cinema smelled - then films like Slumdog Millionaire would not win Oscars. The stench of that kind of poverty wouldn’t blend with the aroma of warm popcorn.
- Arundhati Roy, Walking with Comrades (via lotus-eyes)
Tagged: #truth #art #film