Complicity 1: Django Unchained

"This is how Tarantino works— he tries to make you forget his many offenses by lulling you into complacency with his competence and flashes of brilliance. He tries to make the viewer believe that if the art is good enough, the message can be overlooked. I tried to overlook the message, but Tarantino never let me. Each time I tried to settle into the movie and enjoy myself, he made another indulgent, obnoxious choice that did little more than reveal what I can only assume is Tarantino’s serious problem with race.

Christoph Waltz was, as he always is, a revelation. His character, as a European struggling to understand American culture, reveals the absurdity of slavery and gives the movie at least one white person who isn’t wholly hateful. But he is still complicit in slavery, using the system to his advantage in the early going. Schultz tells Django he will only free him after they successfully capture the Brittles. Schultz finds slavery abhorrent unless it suits his purposes, which is, I imagine, the dilemma many white people found themselves in during the slavery era. Django isn’t given the autonomy to decide for himself if he wants to help Schultz or not, and we’re still supposed to go along with this. We’re still supposed to root for Schultz not because he is the best person. Rather, he is the least evil. I suppose that’s the point Tarantino is trying to make, that in the 1800s, everyone was complicit in the institution of slavery, but he does a half-assed job of getting that point across."

–Bad Feminist: Essays. Roxane Gay. "Surviving Django".

I've been thinking about the entire spectrum of complicity and all the infinite complex ethical dilemmas that accompany this act.