Editorial Staff

Have the Publicists for the Recent Slavery-themed Films Begun To Respond to the Complaints?

If you speak loud enough people are sure to hear you, even if they don’t respond. Or, instead of one person speaking loudly to voice a complaint, you can seek to add more people to the conversation. In other words it’s much easier to ignore one person than to ignore 1,000. As more black women (along with their advocates and supports) start using social media to connect with each other in order to voice their complaints, the media will increasingly have little choice but to respond. These were my thoughts after I watched the most recent official trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film, the spaghetti western, ‘Django Unchained’ featuring Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington.

In this second trailer, Kerry Washington’s character appears to have a more prominent role and get more screen time in the film. Circumstances could have changed in several ways since the release of the initial trailer: Not much footage featuring Kerry was filmed and ready for promotional efforts when the first trailer was released, but not that footage is available for promotion; 2) marketers have been paying attention to what the public has been saying about the film, such as wanting to see more of Kerry’s character in the flick before deciding whether or not the movie is worth seeing, and/or 3) the marketers have heard the complaints of some members of the movie viewing public about the way that black women would be represented in the film, and thus a decision was made to do more to promote a less negative view of black women.

Lyneka Little, writing for the Wall Street Journal, says about the new trailer:

The blood that spatters the cotton fields as Django takes out a victim is an apt symbol for the approach of this film. It seems to be transforming the tropes of the slave movie genre into something more suitable for the age–Tarantino is looking for vengeance, not just sorrow; heroes, not just victims–in other words, this is a kind of cinematic emancipation. (John Singleton attempted something along these lines in his 1997 movie “Rosewood,” and so did Steven Spielberg that same year with “Amistad.”) Could Tarantino’s take ultimately be more empowering to viewers than, say, something like Steve McQueen’s coming “Twelve Years a Slave”? We won’t know until both films are out.

Little is correct: We won’t know for sure what to think of ‘Django Unchained’ or ’12 Years A Slave’ until they are released, but the doesn’t mean that people will stop speculating and questioning about the content both films will promote.

Does this new trailer change how you felt about going to see ‘Django Unchained’?
Jamila Akil is a senior editor at Beyond Black and White. Follow her on Twitter @jamilaakil or email her at jamilathewriter-at-gmail-dot-com.

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