Samuel L. Jackson’s delightful turn in Django Unchained as a house slave of villain Calvin Candie is one of the most buzzed-about parts of the movie’s success — but the overall use of the “n-word” in Quentin Tarantino’s latest film has sparked all kinds of controversy both from those who say the movie couldn’t have been historically accurate without its use and those who say it was gratuitous and shocking.
Samuel L. Jackson is one of Tarantino’s most prolific collaborators and, of course, one of the most prominent black actors in Hollywood, so it is quite natural that any interview with Jackson will include questions about how he feels about the use of the “n-word” in Django Unchained.
After seeing the film, it seems perhaps clear that sanitizing the word from our history also delegitimizes the horrible history of slavery from our recent past — in essence, the casual slinging about of what is now a serious taboo in our vernacular only serves to foreground how brutal a period and how black a mark the slave trade is upon America.
Spike Lee has complained about Tarantino‘s liberal use of the word in the film, and Katt Williams even threatened to punch the director the next time they meet because Quentin “doesn’t have a pass” to use it so frequently. But Samuel L. Jackson quite hilariously used the tension surrounding the term to make an interviewer squirm during a recent Django Unchained talk.