Last week, the Drudge Report sparked controversy after inexplicably plastering its cover page with a picture of Quentin Tarantino above the word “N*GGER” printed several times. The headline linked to a review of Django Unchained, and was only comprehensible (and then just barely) as an attempt to stir up anger over the movie’s story about one slave’s revenge. Above the headline were several Tarantino-related links, including one to an old story about Spike Lee’s criticism of the director for his liberal use of the racial slur in his films.
Whatever Matt Drudge was trying to say—if anything—the sensationalistic headline highlighted the growing fear expressed by some on the right that Django Unchained is somehow a threat to white people. As Max Read noted at Gawker, those supposed fears were likely fueled in part by star Jamie Foxx’s opening monologue on Saturday Night Live a little over a week ago, in which he joked about being excited “to kill all the white people in the movie.” The monologue was highlighted on Breitbart News among other conservative websites. In a typical NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard cluelessly wrote, “Imagine the uproar if a white actor joked about killing all the black people in a new film he was starring in.”
Jeffrey T. Kuhner wrote a more detailed reaction to the SNL skit for the Washington Times, deeming Foxx a “black nationalist,” while accusing minorities of “racial tribalism”—a supposedly privileged attitude that allows gays, Latinos, Asians, and so on to say offensive things about other groups, while whites can’t.
"Anti-white bigotry has become embedded in our postmodern culture. Take Django Unchained. The movie boils down to one central theme: the white man as devil—a moral scourge who must be eradicated like a lethal virus. For decades, Hollywood, U.S. textbooks and higher education have stressed that America was founded upon slavery, sexism and genocide. In other words, white European civilization is the root of evil and imperial subjugation around the world."
While it’s easy to laugh at Kuhner’s hyperbolic piece, it wasn’t too long ago that writers for more respectable (and less rabidly rightwing) publications were getting worked up about the possibility of cinematically inspired black violence. Back in 1989, in New York Magazine, both David Denby and Joe Klein suggested that the the polarizing climax of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing—in which racial tension erupts into a violent outburst after a black youth is killed by the police—might prompt violence against whites. “If some audiences go wild, [Lee’s] partly responsible,” Denby wrote. Klein echoed the sentiment, saying that while the “subtleties” of the movie would leave “white (especially white liberal) audiences debating the meaning of Spike Lee’s message,” black teenagers would regard the message more simply: “The police are your enemy…White people are your enemy.” Klein found a “dangerous stupidity” in this supposed message.
Of course, black audiences didn’t riot after seeing the film, because they are not so simple-minded as Denby and Klein implied they were.
As it turns out, the people really bothered by the racial politics of Django Unchained (which doesn't even come out until Christmas) are the gutter commenters of the internet right and their enablers in the conservative media. You'd think that maybe the one time scared conservatives could stomach the sight of a black man killing white men is in the context of vengeance for an unspeakable crime. But in the world imagined by the extreme conservative web, a world constantly under the threat of race war, there is no acceptable space for righteous black violence — not as a firsthand depiction, not as secondhand reference, not as fact, not as fiction, not in the movies, and not on TV.
This isn't the first time Django Unchained has been on the Drudge Report this week. On Monday, it got a photo and headline above the main story: "UNCHAINED: Foxx Jokes About Killing 'All The White People' In New Movie..." Above the headline, Drudge had a production still of Foxx, in a cowboy hat, holding a revolver.
The National Review Online, not usually in the habit of linking to SNL monologues, linked to this one. The uncharacteristically flat description didn't really explain why the venerable conservative publication was calling attention to the video:
But if you were confused why NRO pimped Foxx's monologue, NRO commenters weren't. "He's obviously one of those people who isn't opposed to the 'culture of killing' in the black community and uses his celebrity to encourage it," wrote one. The post got 200 comments, making it among the most-commented on the site and by far the post with the highest comment-to-word ratio. Most of them went something like this:
Django Unchained, unsurprisingly, has already been the subject of a series of heated blog posts on white nationalist sites. "Django Unchained; Incitement to racially motivated murder," goes one headline; another calls it an "anti-White racial snuff film." NRO and Breitbart won't write that out, specifically. But they know they don't have to: they're sharing an audience with the white nationalist sites — an audience that thinks that President Obama has been a racially "divisive" president, an audience that believes a race war is on the horizon, an audience that sympathizes with George Zimmerman. An audience that thinks an SNL monologue qualifies as incitement to violence.