A Character Case Study of “Django Unchained”

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One of the most hits from posts I’ve written have come from a series of character case studies I did on “The Boondocks,” the Cartoon Network show.  Now I’m not sure if it’s because of the pictures that I’m getting hits or whether it really is people stumbling upon them and reading them.  I will say this, I have consistently gotten comments spread out ever since I did write them.

So as I sat watching “Django Unchained” I figured it wouldn’t hurt to do a character analysis of the main characters in the movie either.  I plan on doing a mini-series of the following characters and in the following order:

  1. Django Freeman
  2. Dr. King Schultz
  3. Calvin J. Candie
  4. Broomhilda Von Shaft
  5. Big Daddy
  6. Stephen [Candie]

Now, I will admit flaws with my soon-to-be case studies.  Admittedly, we have less than three hours of footage in which to discuss and analyze versus three seasons of material that show clear and full character development.  Not to mention, many “Boondocks” afficianados had the pleasure of meeting the main characters through syndicated comic strips in newspapers for many previous years prior to the cartoon show.  Not to mention, Aaron MacGruder, the creator of the comic strip and creative mind behind the cartoon clearly was inspired by the likes of “Doonesbury” to have a politically tinged cartoon that dripped with current events and other modern societal issues.

None of that I really think applied to “Django Unchained” and the director and his intent: this was very much done for the sake of entertainment.  This was merely a movie of the western genre just done within the backdrop of the antebellum South.  And truth be told, what a genius idea.  I give kudos to people who make the decision to address the taboo subjects and go for it.  However, as I said in my first post about this movie, generally speaking I viewed it from the vantage point of entertainment;  I didn’t watch the movie for the sake of fundamental historical criticism nor did I view it expecting some scathing social commentary to be resurrected from the various nuances.  No, indeed I watched it with griping interest and was entertained.  I laughed and cried when I needed to and I divested from the horrors as I saw appropriate and I engaged in the drama as I saw fit.

In these character case studies I will try and address what are the larger implications of what do those characters possibly mean and perhaps where are they rooted.  Granted, I’ll be doing a whole lot more speculation than ever because it’s apparent some of these characters had obvious comedic foil, and the garish nature of some scenes reeks of historical inaccuracy and inconsistency and probably need to remain as such.  So rather than trying to read into what Tarantino was doing with the characters, I’d want to take a viewer-response hermeneutic and extract out from the characters.  For instance, rather than blast Tarantino for having Django’s character wear the outlandish valet suit, and how just wrong it felt to have him galloping in on a horse, I’d rather engage the conversation and discuss what does it mean for contemporary black men to wear a nice suit, and drive a nice car in the wrong neighborhood and perhaps how did Django Freeman’s character illuminate this issue.

Just for an example that is.

Stay tuned and sit back to read what I have to say.

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL


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