Django, revenge and racism

Posted: December 27, 2012 by Emilio Garofalo Neto in Drama, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Django_Unchained_Poster

Django Unchained is one of my most expected movies of the year; yes, up there with the Hobbit and the Dark Knight Rises.

I think Tarantino movies have a special thing about them that makes them immensely quotable and instigating. Yes, they also have a lot of violence and bad language. That would be a good topic for one of those days.

Let us focus rather in another issue today, the matter at hand: vengeance over the evils of slavery. Keep in mind that, as it was with Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino is not aiming at historical accuracy or the like. He wants to tell a story that is set in a certain time period and have fun with it. So, while there will be much that is realistically 19th century Old South, there will be much that will not and that is certainly not the point. If that idea bothers you, avoid the film.

The story is set in the pre-Civil war time; when racial issues are bubbling up, slavery is contested and defended with the use of  the Bible; the whole country is about to be split over the issue. Maybe a double session with Django Unchained and Lincoln might give a great fun at the 19th century time.

A big issue in the film is, of course, racism. Slavery in the Old South was racist; there is no way around it. Being born with a certain skin color qualified you for freedom, with another qualified you for force labor and demeaning life conditions.

Recently John Piper wrote a remarkably biblical book about the issue, Bloodlines. I recommend that you go read it. We are often blind about some racial issues in the Bible, partially because we were taught to be color blind. Yet, it is there. Many times we do not think about the ethnic nuances in the biblical story, such as Miriam’s complaint about her brother Moses marrying a black woman.

Sadly many times we have foolishly tried to use scripture to defend our sinful points of view. Every heretic is guilty of this. Everyone who uses the freedom of the Gospel to indulge in sin is guilty as well. And so is every person who justifies his prejudice with misquoted or out of context Biblical verses. That is the case with our own history; many times protestant ministers in the USA and other countries have tried to justify Old south slavery based on wrong or dishonest readings of scripture.

Racism is a weird thing; someone said it is the “misguided notion that my race is better because it is mine”. Really, that is the only claim. Most people will recognize that it is a bad thing and we should not look at color or ethnic traits in order to define one’s value before God and men. Yet, most people have prejudices of one way or another.

Racism is a weird thing that happened after the Fall; we began to look at our diversity created by God as if that was something to be resented or feared. Remember, God is both three and one; three persons but only one God. In him dwells perfect unity as well as perfect diversity. When he made man in his likeness, he made the whole of mankind to reflect this combination of unity and diversity. Of course, this happens imperfectly or better, creaturely (if you want the theological term it is “ectypally”). The whole of mankind together in its diversity reflects God, and we are one race.

Can you see why it is actually quite dumb to think that Caucasians are better that Guatemalans, Norwegians better than Nepalese, Brazilians better than Bulgarians or Africans better than Caucasians? We need each other so together we can better reflect God’s image. The unity in diversity is God’s plan for humanity; when we say part of humanity is lesser we are saying the image of God is distorted and we are offending God himself…

Now, I have not seen Django Unchained yet; I know for sure there will be plenty of violence and enthralling conversations and unforgettable characters; I also know that the racial/slavery issues will be exacerbated and many will call foul. And yet, even in the distorted mirrors of amusement parks we may be able to notice something about ourselves that goes largely unnoticed…

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