Musings and Ramblings
Craig Ellis Jamison
Based in Phila., PA, Craig is author of the screenplays
NECESSARY EVIL, O.T., THE SECRET SONG, ROUGH ASSEMBLAGE, FATHOM, 13
O'CLOCK, NEGATIVE INGENUITY, KISS ME FOREVER, BOTTLED LIGHTNING INC., CAMP DAVID (co-author) and the book "STANDARD ISSUE: THE
JAMES BOND TRIVIA CHALLENGE". He is webmaster of the GullCottage /
Sandlot online film blog / library, as well as administrator of it's YouTube
channels "Bear Mann TunePlay" Film Music, "Flying Bear Film School" Cinema Craft Documentaries (under revision), "Flying Bear Film Morgue" Cinema Shorts &
Esoterica (under revision), and the GullCottage / Sandlot on Facebook.
He is also the creator / producer / co-host of the cinema podcast series "The Grindhouse: With Craig & Jim".
“ARE THERE ANY N**GERS HERE TONIGHT?”:
QUENTIN, SPIKE, “DJANGO”, AND THE CINEMATIC HISTORY OF
THE ALMIGHTY “N” WORD! (PT. 1)
* This article contains language, film and audio
which some may find objectionable *
Okay, first - an apology. 'Cause we’re gonna cram quite a LOT into as condensed a space as possible. So all you learned in English comp about run-on sentences and overly compounded structure? Yes, we ARE aware of it. We really are! But for the time being that's on hold. I promise in the next “Musings And Ramblings” we’ll go back to proper format and even that complete “third wall” objectification reference to the writer as “we” instead of “I”. But for now, the subject at hand is perhaps a bit more important than said subject matter’s delivery system. So, jumping into it …
It’s all about the word “nigger”. Yeah, you read that correctly - “nigger”, and not it’s agreed upon journalistic stunt double stand-in phrase “the ‘N’ word”. So put your politically correct bonnet back up on the shelf, close the slacked jaw, and stop feigning shock as if (c’mon) you haven’t heard, uttered or sang the word in one form or another over the last few years. I ask simply because we’re going to be addressing it straight up and direct here. Our version of an old school back alley “throw down”. You remember those - down and dirty perhaps, but refreshingly honest at the same time.
Oh, and by the way, this is all extremely uncomfortable for me too, because I personally despise that damned “N” word (let’s get that right out there!) - especially when it’s used by African Americans. But do I believe (as do some) that it should be banned from pop culture usage? No, I do not! I DO feel however that it IS overused by far too many so-called performers and hip-hoppers, slung about like so much hash by those of little to no socio-artistic prowess (or socio-political knowledge or memory) who are simply cashing in on it’s shock value while donning the thin b.s. mask of “social relevance”. As we tend to say, “Nigga please!!!”. But more on all that in a bit.
Suffice to say, unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock, it’s next to impossible not to have experienced one of the above run-ins with “the infamous N”, and (like many) developed feelings concerning it as it’s become (like it or not) an indelible part of our modern cultural lexicon. More specifically here, I wanna chat - just you and me / one on one - about “nigger”’s place in that lexicon, and it’s debatable “maybe yes, maybe no?” over usage in Quentin Tarantino’s film, DJANGO UNCHAINED - which, by the way, I loved. Let’s get that right out there too.
The wonderful thing about online articles, op ed pieces, social critiques or whatever you wish to call them, is they (unlike their printed counterparts) can be enjoyed and dissected in relative privacy by a wider audience more willing to “take a roll” on something they may not otherwise purchase at a book store, check out of the library or even read on the morning bus or train ride to work. Y’know, if a piece like this was published in say EBONY or VIBE, a great many wouldn’t be reading it right now. Same thing if it was printed in one of the more scholarly (some would say “snobby”) cineaste magazines like FILM COMMENT. Not us by the way. We big time LOVE us some FILM COMMENT ‘round these parts. It’s one of our Bibles. But regardless of which magazine it appeared in, something entitled “Are There Any Niggers Here Tonight?” would certainly require the title page to be folded back out of view, lest the reader risk a threatening WTF view from passers by. So, first and foremost a big thank you dear Reader for sitting down and scrolling this up in the first place. While you may not be paying for this piece of “written opinion” in the form of hard earned “e pluribus unum”, you ARE paying for it with the most valuable commodity you own - your time. And for that I am extremely grateful.
Unchained (couldn’t resist) into U.S. theaters on Christmas Day 2012, Tarantino’s DJANGO UNCHAINED - the saga of a freed slave turned bounty hunter in search of his still enslaved wife, is a heady, visually stunning combination of Italian “Spaghetti Western”, 70s era blaxploitation actioner, tone poem and social commentary. On one level it’s the most harrowing microcosmic depiction (certainly in recent mainstream American cinema) of the systematic genocide of an entire race since Steven Spielberg’s SCHINDLER’S LIST. Yet on the other it’s also the most pulpy of pulp fiction; a deliberately dime novel-like, rootin’ tootin’ old school, drive-in movie style, over-the-top sagebrush “quest saga” shoot ‘em up with biblical undertones. Zane Grey by way of James Baldwin. A Louis L’amour audio book as read by Huey P. Newton. And oh yes, it’s also blisteringly funny satire. And therein (as Mr. Shakespeare would say) lay the rub …
Django Unchained (U.S. theatrical trailer #2)