Django and the N-word
“Django Unchained” gives audiences what they’d expect from a Quentin Tarantino film — violence and harsh language, including excessive use of the N-word. So, how did the stars feel about using the word over and over in the film?
In this video, actors from the film briefly discuss what it was like using and hearing the N word while filming. They discuss the use of a metaphorical shield in order to protect them from harm. Not only has the film been criticized for the violent content, but also the amount of times the N word was used and who used the word. Proponents of the film say the language is based on the time period, where slavery often lead to the mistreatment of African-American citizens. Despite which state or racial group one was in during the time period, United States citizens can have a hard time looking back and acknowledging slavery and the treatment of men, women and children. It can be shocking to see how the N word could have been used during that time. I argue that the “shield” the actors talk about in the interview is a shield individuals had to use during the real days of slavery. Not only slaves, but also slave owners put up a shield. In order to justify the mistreatment and violence toward blacks, many slave owners thought they were doing the slaves a favor (which we see in Django through a variety of characters). In order to act upon racism, it is much easier and requires much less guilt if you view the oppressed as different from yourself.
Quentin Tarantino on Violence, the N Word, and Django Unchained
In this interview, Tarantino explains the reasoning behind the violence and language. He is questioned about the criticism and congratulated for his bravery as a director.
“We have to deal with the true brutality of slavery. I wanted to take a 21st century audience and stick them in the middle of Mississippi in the Antebellum South and have them see… this is America, this was America then. You have to see it that way. I cut it back, because, frankly, I could handle it more.”