Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The South's Peculiar Institution

January 1, 2013 marked the 150th anniversary of the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation. The bureau chief doesn't know if the fact that in 2012 three Hollywood films were released whose central theme was slavery is related in any way to this significant date. We have already discussed Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln". The other two films are Quenton Tarantino's "Django Unchained" and Timur Bekmambetov's "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter".

"Lincoln" is a historical drama while Tarantino's and Bekmambetov's works are both genre films. Tarantino's takes the form of a Spaghetti Western and Bekmambetov's is a Vampire/Martial Arts film. "Django" is a very good film while "Abraham Lincoln" is a lot better than I expected (I saw it on an airplane). What's interesting about these two genre films is that finally, after 150 years, after all the historical revisionism about how our civil war wasn't about slavery but about states rights, after the fantasies of the loyal slaves, happy to be on the plantation, a good sized segment of the ticket buying audience is willing to except the proposition that slave owners and slave traders are the moral equivalent of the Nazis that Tarantino gleefully destroyed in "Inglourious Basterds" or the evil vampires that had to be staked and beheaded in countless pre-Twilight vampire films.

One day after the second inauguration of our first African American president, we could observe that it can take a long time for things to change but sometimes they do.

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