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Blerd Chick Stories: When Feminism Goes Wrong, More on Django Unchained

December 29, 2012

So apparently that got some traffic. Hi, new readers! Hope you stick around.

Hey remember when I pointed out that the death of Calvin Candie’s sister was the only Caucasian death that elicited an audience reaction? Yeah…there’s been more than a little reaction on the internets as well and holy crap has it been full of misguided feminism that is really racism. It started here. OK, not so much the article as the comments. Then I had a small Facebook slap fight about it and a PM battle in Ravelry.

Let me paraphrase all of these people because nothing they are saying is particularly distinct from the others, “Lara didn’t do anything! Violence against women is not funny! Sexism!” Oh yes, that happened. Sigh.

 

WORK!

 

I couldn’t find a picture of Lara so instead I give you some random southern belle lady, because in this conversation, she’s really just a symbol and who cares?

More than one person specifically pointed out the fact that Lara “spared” Django from execution as if that were a kindness. I’m sorry. What movie were you watching? The only reason they were having a discussion about what to do with him in the first place is because they didn’t think gelding was cruel enough.

The whole point of that scene, aside from enforcing that Stephen is a monster, is to make clear that they are sending Django to the worst possible place they can think of. The amount of excuse making for Lara is mind boggling.

“She treated her servant as a friend.”

You mean her slave, Cora?

“There was nothing else she could do!”

Except, you know, not really. There were a lot of things she could have done that didn’t involve participating in the torture and death other other humans for fun and profit.

“She got angry and yelled at her brother when he went too far in humiliating Hildy at dinner.”

Again, what the hell movie were you watching?  Both Candies had been pushing Lara at King since her introduction. Given the fact that they think he’s already raped Hildy, a common though unacknowledged practice, her anger reads as far more anger at his rudeness. Lara’s objection to stripping Hildy was fundamentally the same as it would have been had Calvin started picking his nose or put his feet up on the table. It had nothing to do with protecting Hildy and everything to do with things that are not done in the dining room.

“She didn’t own any of the slaves! She didn’t hurt anyone!”

She may have. Her very specifically mentioned widowhood makes that a distinct possibility. Aside from that, so what? She lived on their labor, profited from a plantation wherein they were horribly killed, and assisted her brother in both choosing and punishing them. Lara was the one ostensibly in charge when Hildy was sent to the hot box and d’Artagnan was hunted down and eaten alive by dogs. And there was also the moment when she deliver Hildy to King for what everyone was supposed to think was rape.

“Most people owned slaves back then!”

No. They really didn’t.

“She was a product of her times! It wasn’t her fault!’

True, yet at the same time false. Yes, Lara was a product of her time. No, that does not abrogate her responsibility for her actions. Lara was as much a product of her times as Calvin and they died is very similar ways; shot off their feet after a period of deliberation by their killer. Yet no one seems to be weeping for poor Calvin because he’s clearly the villain.  Lara is too but apparently a huge swathe of people choose not to see that and would rather scream about the death of the white woman. Once again, it’s all about who has value.

By the way, these same people are, I guess totally fine with the deaths of the two slaves in the original Candieland gunfight. They are shown, crouched, terrified, holding hands for comfort, and then they’re gunned down by the overseers as they try to escape. Again, I don’t seem to recall anyone singing odes to the actually innocent victims.

Why? If you’ve read this blog for any length of time I bet you know why. For the new readers. It’s all about value. The while woman matters and the slaves don’t. Her death elicited a reaction and who cares about the other two or any other slave that is tortured and killed during the movie? Just don’t kill the white lady, right?

 

For those interested in yet another perspective, there’s a really interesting article at Salon.com, questioning whether a black director could have gotten Django Unchained anywhere near the screen.

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