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Django Unchained: A Black-Centred Superhero and Unchained Audiences

Coetzee, Carli (2016) 'Django Unchained: A Black-Centred Superhero and Unchained Audiences.' Black Camera, 7 (2). pp. 62-72.

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Abstract

In Ishmael Reed’s Wall Street Journal response piece “Black Audiences, White Stars and Django Unchained” he offers a deliberately discomforting description of his encounter with Tarantino’s Django Unchained: “I saw the film in Berkeley where the audience was about 95% white. They really had a good time.” Reed’s alienated and critical response to the film is informed by his understanding of the central question of “who should tell the black story?” But his anecdotal analysis of the “abomination” that he assesses the film as may also draw attention to something else: who is watching alongside the viewer when a (or the) “black story” is being told, and how does this collective viewing experience shape, distort or destroy a sense of community? “Foxx,” Reed writes, “is there for the audience that used to sit in the balcony at southern movie houses.” In this invocation of the movie houses of the racially segregated past, Reed’s response points to a crucial issue in the reception of Django: the historically and racially informed gaze. In particular, what his viewing experience invokes is a room in which the black gaze becomes displaced – marginalized, in fact, as if that gaze has been removed to “the balcony at southern movie houses.”

Item Type: Articles
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa
ISSN: 19474237
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): 10.2979/blackcamera.7.2.62
Depositing User: Carli Coetzee
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2016 09:20
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/22907

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