Django Unchained has seen its fair share of praise and controversy since release, and one of the film’s biggest advocates is Samuel L. Jackson, who played the villainous Stephen in Quentin Tarantino’s latest film.
Though you get the sense that our culture seems to like Django Unchained (even if we don’t exactly know what to do with it), Tarantino’s antebellum revenge tale has drawn out some loud critics. Most seem primarily perturbed by the film’s violence, subject matter, and rampant use of the odious “n-word.”
Some have taken issue with the fact that Tarantino is a white guy doing a blaxploitation film, but they don’t seem to really know why that bothers them.
In any case, Samuel L. Jackson is arguing once again that the racially-insensitive window dressings in Django Unchained serve an honest, historical purpose:
“Did they have another name to call the (black) people they were talking about at the time?” Jackson rhetorically asked. “If you’re going to deal with the language of the time, you deal with the language of the time. And that was the language of the time. I grew up in the South. I heard ‘n–ger’ all my life. I’m not disturbed by it.”
Jackson talked a bit about Spike Lee, who labeled Django Unchained “disrespectful” and vowed to boycott it.
“I can’t talk to him about something he hasn’t seen,” Jackson said. “I probably won’t have a conversation with him about it, unless he brings it up. I won’t bring it up — ‘Hey, why didn’t you see my movie?’ I don’t care if he sees it or not … I haven’t had a conversation with Quentin about whether he likes Spike or doesn’t like Spike. And I never had a conversation with Spike about whether he likes Quentin or doesn’t like Quentin … I really don’t know. I don’t know if it’s jealousy. Who would be jealous of whom?”
Samuel L. Jackson, for his part, seems to be having a fair share of fun defending Django Unchained from its critics. Check out this hilariously awkward clip from a previous interview, during which he tries to encourage his white interviewer to try the “n-word” out (starts at 13:55):