On the University of New Orleans’ WWNO website, Andre Perry writes that America’s favorite storyline is one of an underdog who exacts revenge, often in blood. It seems a bit ridiculous, then, when critics call Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained too violent. What happened to peace? he asks.
What is fascinating about Tarantino and his fetish for violence is that he reveals our cultural wants and desires. Tarantino sees our national mores so well because he wears so much of his own on his sleeve. In the United States, to make things right you’ve got to get even. Getting even means blowing someone’s head off.
After one of the most unspeakable acts of mass murder and gun violence ever committed on American soil, the following days saw gun sales go up. Critiquing Tarantino for having too much gun violence is the national pot calling the kettle black.
Just as I paid for and enjoyed Django, we morbidly cheer when someone gets even using violence. As Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out, eye for an eye forms of justice leaves everybody blind. In one of the final scenes after Django exacts revenge, his antagonist Stephen, played by Samuel Jackson screams, “You’re going to be the one who’s on those wanted posters.” The cycle of getting even never ends.