Posted: March 24th, 2023

Qualitative Content Analysis of the Film “Django Unchained”

Introduction

Racism is an avoidable core concept encompassing every aspect of the human existence. Notably, it is through societal institutions that cultural and individual identities are constructed, especially the media platform. Indeed, the reason is that the images shown on film denote that racism is real and possible to relay through visual platforms. As a result, people accept and agree to continue racism since the media is a powerful communication tool that either introduces or reasserts the existence of this belief that is based on fiction. Mainly, films create ethnic affiliations through either exhibiting that people are similar, different, superior, inferior, and subordinate or the dominant group. Therefore, with this construction, racism is seen as acceptable and normal; in reality, it is a false belief that exposes the inferior group to significant psychosocial harm.

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Different authors feature in this study, with Eric Jordan providing evidence of how the white savior contexts are shown in films. In addition, Sergio Romero uses his expertise to show how racism is interconnected in the social contexts to exhibit it as acceptable in society. Chris Weedon discusses how cultural identity significantly impacts people as it legitimizes fiction and leads people to affiliate with either an inferior or superior culture. Teresa Guess’s article comprehensively tackles historical eras and how society institutionalizes racism on a higher-level paradigm. Lastly, Desmond and Emirbayer discuss the contexts related to racial domination in normal society.

Research Question

The central issue in this study is provided as follows:

In what contexts does the film industry construct racialized narratives as seen in the movie Django Unchained?

Outline

I Introduction

  1. The primary motivator of this study is the need to determine how films create racism through different approaches.
  2. In what contexts does the film industry construct racialized narratives?
  3. The study argues that films make the largest platform through which racism is created in society.
  4. Racism in Django Unchained is constructed in two contexts, including inherent misrecognition and representation of a particular culture’s social and historical context.

II Analysis

  1. The film was written and produced in 2012 by Quentin Tarantino, owned by The Weinstein Company and Sony production
  2. Through the historical and social contexts, Django Unchained the “white savior” racialized ideology.
  3. Django Unchained constructs racism through the inherent misrecognition context, which biologically sees some groups as inferior and others superiors.

III Conclusion

  1. Films are some of the platforms through which racism is constructed in a historical
  2. Social, historical, and natural misrecognition contexts are used in Django Unchained to construct racism.
  3. The context analysis is limited due to personal analysis.
  4. The challenge was the inadequacy of information relating to how films construct racism.

Theoretical Orientation

  • Films are rhetorical contents created to exhibit a particular race’s historical or cultural context.
  • Racism is misrecognized as natural, with films using this approach to construct appealing movies that relate to the social identities of their target audience.

Thesis

The main aim of this study is to prove that the film industry is the largest narrative platform on which racism is constructed directly or rhetorically.

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Analysis

Authorship

Django Unchained was formerly produced in March 2012 in Louisiana, Wyoming, and California. Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed the film with the aim of showing the American horrible past of slavery. The movie was shot using an anamorphic format covering the standardized 35 mm of visual recording media content. The American Western Film commissioned Tarantino’s final script in 2012. Django Unchained is owned by The Weinstein Company in North America and globally by the Sony Pictures International. This movie has a relationship where Tarantino made a highly accredited script, which is produced, funded, and sold by the owner companies, while the casts undertake their roles as required by the director to provide the viewers with a polished movie. In this film, Tarantino’s subject matter of black man revenge socially identifies with the producer alone. The reason being most viewers only relate to the jocks involved, but most of them have an opinion that Django is excessively violent, stirs the stereotypical ideology that black men should be feared or hated, and continually uses insulting words to refer to the people of color.

Historical and Social Contexts

Django Unchained is one of the American movies which constructs racism in the historical and social contexts of a “white savior.” Being slavery oriented film, the mere ideology of wickedness and noble superficially present throughout the movie. From one author’s perspective, racism is a consequence that acts on a large paradigm in society, and it is represented through historical evolutions, which are later followed and constructed at social level institutions (Guess, 2006). Historically, racism is exhibited subconsciously through different platforms where people from certain cultures are convicted as inferior through discriminating and prejudicing their personalities, as seen in film roles given to people of certain groups. In Django Unchained, no black character takes a complex or significant parts. Looking at Broomhilda the only female protagonist, she is displayed as a quintessential female in distress who barely speaks but is only there to show that a black woman can maintain her traditionally instituted characteristics of a beautiful domestic wife.

In such films, racism is seen to evolve to affiliate with the current era that recognizes its existence but refuses to admit that it is exhibited through racial inequality approaches. Evidently, some authors provide that history evolve racism where. In today’s era, people know that cultural identities are real but refuse to acknowledge that racial inequality is an existing problem within the American society (Emirbayer & Desmond, 2009). Therefore, while Tarantino’s subject matter agrees that racism exists, he wants to challenge it through empowering black men. In essence, his work through character roles depicts vast racial inequality towards the people of color.

On the other hand, racism is socially constructed through social institutions that continually form a pattern that is constantly supported by bureaucratic, lawful, and impersonal routines. For instance, in Tarantino’s production, the white man takes the place of both the villain and the heroes. Evidently, one author notes that unusually exceptional actors whose morality and kindness are superior to that of the black race make white roles (Jordan, 2016). For instance, Schultz, who is the dominant white lead character, exhibits benevolence and paternalistic capabilities by purchasing Django on condition and providing him with protection at the same time. Apparently, Schultz’s paternalistic abilities to calm down and coax an enraged and freed Django illustrates that a particular cultural group is allowed to dominate others as their superior actions are bureaucratically acceptable under the law.

With powerful institutions like the film industry legitimizing racism, white supremacy will continue to be perpetrated by other social institutions like the literature, philosophy, and scientific platforms (Emirbayer & Desmond, 2009). As a result, racism will continue to evolve in each era and institutionalized by social arenas, which uphold that some groups are inferior or superior as their races suggest.

Natural Misrecognition Context

Django Unchained racial approach is naturally misrecognized as an acceptable norm that significantly subjects inferior cultures of racism. The reason is that cultural identities are fictions constructed by human beings on the basis that it is biologically a natural concept. However, people do not understand that racism is created through social power, economic difference, cultural practices, and political institutions (Emirbayer & Desmond, 2009 5). In Django Unchained, Calvin Candie, who is the slave owner from the South actions naturally represents racism from a biological context. He uses a scientific approach, which provides that the black and white people are separated through their phrenology. He even goes to the extent of cutting away the backspace with the skull of one of his dead slaves to show that the black brain is divided into various sections, where the largest one is that of being subordinate to the superior race, the white man.

Notably, Charles Caldwell, a medical slave owner who, started the ideology that black people are slaves since they can be tamed as the largest part of their brain is composed of submissiveness, caution, and veneration. Since then, black people are justified as naturally inferior to their white dominant counterparts (Weedon, 2004). Indeed, that is why Tarantino, who is of French origin, does not recognize racism in his script. However, other people of African-American origin relate to this contextual construction of cultural identity in America.

In addition, Tarantino’s film naturally misrecognizes racism, where he identifies that individuals with a black genetic makeup are biologically created to compromise their personal beings for survival. From one author’s perspective, the fictional dominance that is naturally entitled to white people deters individuals in the black culture from enjoying the privileges acquired by their counterpart groups (Romero, 2014). Hence, although the relationship between Django and Schultz is a  mutual negotiation, the latter does it for financial empowerment, while the freed slave becomes more of a subject who requires protection and help to get back his wife than a friend who is there for companionship.

Conclusion

Through the lenses of Django Unchained, the above discussion has exhibited that the film platform constructs racism in two particular ways, which are the social, historical, and natural misrecognition contexts. Historically, racism evolves in each era, with today’s generation acknowledging its existence and supremacy but disregard that racial inequality is presented in different forms. On the other hand, science, literature, movies, and the law socially institutionalize films. The Django Unchained also constructs racism through inherent misrecognition, where the producer has used fiction to show that cultural identities in America are either seen as superior or inferior according to a person’s biological makeup. Therefore, due to people’s genetic affiliation, racism is justified as universally acceptable; hence, it subjects the black people to the white dominance.

Limitation

The primary restriction in this research is that some of the content analysis emanated from personal reviews, observations, and understanding of the film. Thus, it is essential for the reader to solicit information from other scholars’ studies.

Challenges Encountered

The problem in this discussion was acquiring scholarly articles with adequate information about the construction of racism through the film industry. Therefore, it is crucial that more scholars partake in analyzing this issue in depth so that researchers can solicit stronger evidence relating racism in the future.  

 

References

Desmond, M., & Emirbayer, M. (2009). What is racial domination? Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race, 6(02), 335-355.

Guess, T. J. (2006). The social construction of whiteness: Racism by intent, racism by consequence. Critical Sociology, 32(4), 649-673.

Jordan, E. A. (2016). Reel racism, real consequences: a multiple case analysis of savior films as racial projects. Thesis and Dissertation Paper 2391. 1-112.

Romero, Sergio. (2014). Race and Ethnicity. Introduction to sociology: A collaborative approach. 234-267.

Weedon, C. (2004). Identity And Culture: Narratives Of Difference And Belonging. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).

 

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