Actor Jesse Williams has become the latest star to criticise filmmaker Quentin Tarantino and his Oscar nominated movie Django Unchained, accusing the director of presenting audiences with a "lazy, oversimplified reduction" of black history.
In an op-ed piece posted on CNN.com, the Grey's Anatomy star questions the real impact of the acclaimed western on issues of race and the representation of African-Americans on film.
In his opening paragraph, he acknowledges the potential of Tarantino's movie to bring the subject of slavery to the forefront, but he laments that instead of sparking a debate about race relations, the film depicts slavery "out of context".
He writes, "A slim percentage of consumers have any real understanding of what took place during slavery, one of history's most prolonged, barbaric and celebrated human rights violations. Sadly, for many Americans, this film is the beginning and the end of that history lesson."
Williams continues, "Tarantino rightly claims that the abundant use of 'n**ger' in the film was authentic and of the time. Of course it was. So was chattel slavery and the back-breaking manual labor that kept these massive plantations thriving.
"Tarantino's plantations are nearly empty farms with well-dressed Negresses in flowing gowns, frolicking on swings and enjoying leisurely strolls through the grounds, as if the setting is Versailles, mixed in with occasional acts of barbarism against slaves. It's the opposite of the exploration of the real phenomenon of slavery about which he boasts. Sometimes we sacrifice accuracy for story, but these inaccuracies are completely unnecessary."
The actor is also stunned by the production of action figures based on characters from Django Unchained, insisting the slave dolls were as "cheap and disgusting" as the thought of producing "emaciated Jewish prisoner action figures with the concentration camp tattoos" to promote Tarantino's 2009 war film Inglorious Basterds.
In his closing statements, Williams insists his criticisms would be the same if Django Unchained had been made by a director of another race, but insists, "We deserve better, than this lazy, oversimplified reduction of our history".
The film, which stars Jamie Foxx as a vengeful slave, and Tarantino have come under fire from a handful of black celebrities - music mogul Antonio 'L.A.' Reid slammed the director for his lack of sensitivity in handling racial themes, while fellow moviemaker Spike Lee vowed never to watch it because of the controversial and "disrespectful" language.
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