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January 07, 2013

On the coded language in DJANGO UNCHAINED

I've been dying to see what David Brothers would say about DJANGO and this post does not disappoint. It's also just the first of seven. 4thletter! -- Django Unchained: “Coded language, man-made laws.”
Here’s something to keep in mind while watching Django Unchained. An apocryphal origin for the word “motherfucker” is that it referred to slaves or slave-owners that did you know what with you know who. It was a term of extreme derision, the story goes, aimed at shaming slaves or expressing hatred for the overseer. Knowing Tarantino and his sometimes staggering grasp of communication, he’s more than aware of the history of “motherfucker.” That definition stuck in my head while watching Django Unchained the second time, and made me pay closer attention to what Tarantino was doing with language in his script. People say “nigger” about fifty-eleven times in Django Unchained. It’s set in 1858 stretching into 1859, so you kinda have to expect it. What I like about the movie is how Tarantino doesn’t just stop there. He plays with language, with slurs, in a way that isn’t just a surface level treatment. I don’t know how I missed it, but the usage of “Jimmy” in Django Unchained made something super obvious click for me. Crow as a slur for blacks, “Jimmy Crack Corn,” and those crows in Dumbo — they all come from the same place. Racial slurs go way deeper than nigger and darkie. Sometimes they take subtler forms, but when they click, things you’ve heard in the past tend to snap into alignment, and you see how this language has infested our culture. Jimmy’s just one of the slurs in Django Unchained. Crow, black, nigger, pony, and so on… it’s fascinating. It’s easy to forget that racism isn’t as simple as somebody hating someone else over the color of their skin. It’s bigger than that. It’s a system. Language is just the first line of attack. You can see the system at work in every single frame of Django Unchained that features a black person and a white person. Django, and the other slaves, are completely subordinate to the white people. Schultz and Django’s relationship is not just an aberration, but illegal. Django, while playacting a freed black slaver, is technically of higher social status than Walton Goggins’s Billy Crash, a simple redneck enforcer. That means he gets to smart off at Crash, to treat him like trash. But Billy Crash’s leer says everything you need to know about their power dynamic. Django can use all the words he wants, but free or not, he’s still just a nigger. If Billy Crash really wanted him, he could have him, and it’d only take a modicum of smoothing over. . . .

January 06, 2013

Trailer: This Is The End

Five comedians (and James Franco) wander Los Angeles as the world ends. Yeah, I'll watch this.

January 04, 2013

Everything Wrong With Prometheus In 4 Minutes Or Less

Everything Wrong With Prometheus In 4 Minutes Or Less

January 01, 2013

The history of The Blues Brothers movie

Another long read on this quiet day. Making Blues Brothers With John Belushi and Dan Akroyd—“We Had a Budget for Cocaine” | Vanity Fair
It begins, as these things do, in a dark bar. The time is November 1973. The bar, a speakeasy called the 505 Club, is in Toronto and owned by Aykroyd, a bizarro 20-year-old with webbed toes, mismatched eyes—one green, one brown—and a checkered past as a two-bit hoodlum and a seminary student. The club opens at one A.M. because Aykroyd works nights. For the past three years, he has been performing with Second City, the famed comedy troupe based in Chicago but also flourishing in Toronto. Aykroyd is at the 505, unwinding after a show, when a bullish 24-year-old charges through the back door. This is Belushi, wearing a white scarf, a leather jacket, and a five-point driver’s cap of the sort worn by aging cabbies. Aykroyd wonders whether his guest had somehow mistaken himself for Lee J. Cobb. The two had met earlier in the evening, backstage at Second City. “We had heard of each other,” Aykroyd recalls. “We took one look at each other. It was love at first sight.” Belushi is a Second City alumnus, having spent two productive years with the Chicago troupe. But now he works in New York, running and starring in a show called The National Lampoon Radio Hour. He’s in Toronto to poach talent. Aykroyd says no. He is contractually committed to Second City and happy in Canada, where he was born and raised (in Ottawa, specifically). Plus, he owns a private club, with a jukebox stocked with his favorite music: R&B, soul, and, especially, blues. Chicago blues. Memphis blues. Just a whole hell of a lot of blues, popular (B. B. King) and less so (Pinetop Perkins). Belushi stops talking and starts listening. His own musical tastes vary only a hair. He likes hard 70s rock (Cream, Bad Company) and harder 70s rock (AC/DC, Deep Purple). “This is a nice record,” Belushi says. “What is it?” . . .