Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Story About Django Unchained (2012)

     Note: the article you are about to read is not like the other articles I write on “Reel Christianity.” This is not a movie “review” or analysis, though there are some parts of this movie I will address. This is a true story that happened to me a couple weeks ago that I pray will be a warning to some of you readers out there who, Heaven forbid, might find yourselves in a similar situation.

     The weekend before Easter, I went with a friend to see two movies back-to-back, “Django Unchained” and “Life of Pi” in 3-D. They were playing at a “discount theater” about twenty minutes from my university, and I hadn’t seen either film yet (well, I’d seen “Life of Pi”, but not in 3-D). So for five dollars each, my friend and I got to see these two films, and we went into the theater simply expecting to enjoy the movies.

     We saw “Django” first, and immediately upon entering the screening room, we noticed something very unsettling: two boys, who couldn’t have been more than ten years old, were sitting in the far right section by themselves. My friend and I were worried, certainly, but at first we shrugged it off thinking, “Their parents must be terrible.” My friend had seen the film before, and he knew exactly how much violence and language we were about to experience with “Django Unchained”. Even without having seen it, I was aware that it was going to be brutal, and it saddened me to think that these two kids were allowed in to see it as well.

     As the film progressed, though, my friend and I noticed something even more unsettling. About two hours in, we saw these two kids move from the far-right seating section to the center front row. That’s when we realized: these kids shouldn’t be here. They must have snuck in, and we were furious. Well, at least I was; my friend was, too, I’m sure. And I whispered to him: “I’m tempted to go tell somebody.” Ten seconds later, without a word, my friend gives me his popcorn container, gets up, and walks out of the theater. I sat there, as the two boys often looked around the theater to see if anyone saw them.

     Eventually, two theater workers came into the room and approached the two boys. I couldn’t hear what they actually said, but basically, the boys told the workers that their “guardians” were in the back. And I’d like to think that the workers would have asked the boys to show them where their guardians were, or even show them their tickets. But they didn’t; they went back and told my friend that there was nothing they could do. My friend came back and sat down, and we just continued watching the film to the very end—but I’ll admit, I felt incredibly uneasy… even guilty that I didn’t take further action.

     The film ended, and my friend and I watched the two boys walk out of the theater. Just as we expected, they walked out alone, and I for one was infuriated. Well, I was angry because the workers allowed this to happen. But I was also sad about the whole thing, too. I kept thinking that I should have done more to get those boys out of that theater—and I didn’t want to do it because they simply weren’t allowed there, though that was another reason. I wanted them out because I didn’t want them exposed at their age to the kind of worldview that “Django Unchained” presents.

     Those of you who have seen the film know what I’m talking about. The main character, a slave in pre-Civil War Texas named Django (Jamie Foxx), is approached by a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to find his former slave owners, and they eventually find and free his slave wife (Kerry Washington) from a ruthless plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his suspecting servant (Samuel L. Jackson). The writer and director of this film is Quentin Tarantino, the man behind the gritty “Pulp Fiction”, “Reservoir Dogs”, “Inglourious…”, and “Kill Bill” movies.

     So as you can imagine, this film was pretty violent—not to mention repeated use of the “n-word”, among other obscenities. And I’ll admit, I didn’t like the movie at all. I guess it was well made, but it was different to me than the other two Tarantino films I’ve seen, “Pulp Fiction” and “Inglourious…”, because at least those films had important themes. The end of “Pulp Fiction”, which is something I analyzed early on in “Reel Christianity”, presents a character that finds God and thus rejects his life of crime. The end of “Inglourious…” presents the idea of changing history, and the characters in that film certainly do that (violently, of course).

     But still, throughout those films, there was another theme of revenge. Characters are wronged by others and thus go to find them and make them pay, often in death. But at least those two films had other themes that transcended this shallow idea of revenge. “Django Unchained” did not have that—in fact, in that sense, it almost seems like a very sad movie. Django, after helping his boss out with a few “jobs” (you know, killing criminals), starts to like the bounty hunting business, and as he goes to find his wife, he starts to get accustomed to the fact that he lives in a dirty world, and he needs to get dirty in order to do what’s right.

     As a Christian, I know that this worldview is a lie from Satan to make us believe there is no hope, and all we can do is fight for ourselves. I, on the other hand, truly believe (and try to live out) in sacrificial love and forgiveness that Christ exemplified to us as He died on the cross for our sins. It’s as if the characters in “Django Unchained” are living in a world where God doesn’t exist! I find it odd that the same man who presented redemptive Christianity in “Pulp Fiction” now writes this movie about a man driven solely by revenge.

     I say all this to say, I wish I could have prevented those boys from seeing that worldview. If I had been presented with such pessimism at their age, who knows if I would have listened to God’s voice in my teenage years? And I feel like at this point, all I can do is pray for those boys. And I pray that if you are a parent, and if you have the opportunity to dialogue with your children about this kind of entertainment, please do so. I feel that perhaps at an older age, they should be able to see this, because it certainly is a well made film; however, I still feel like sometimes, kids are just too young to see it. So I pray that with God’s guidance, we all may be able to make the right decision. Thanks for reading.

     Also: I need to add that shortly after writing this article, I sent the theater an e-mail about the situation myself, and the manager responded kindly saying that in the future, she would make sure that the employees would take further action from now on in situations like this. So I'm very thankful for their response and wanted to make that known as well.

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