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Thread: Tarantino Sells Slaves (Action Figures, That Is)

  1. #1
    My Fist Your Face nighttimer's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Tarantino Sells Slaves (Action Figures, That Is)

    From The Daily Beast:

    Academy Award-winner Quentin Tarantino is laughing all the way to the bank this week. The controversial film auteur and his longtime studio chief-partner Harvey Weinstein took a gamble on transforming the atrocities of American slavery into comedic, action-packed entertainment. And the new movie, Django Unchained, which opened Christmas day, bested the glitzy Les Miserables at the box office with numbers indicating that the flick could do as well as, or maybe even better than Tarantino’s top-grossers Inglourious Basterds ($120 million) and Pulp Fiction ($107 million).

    And to build on the Django momentum, there’s an entire product line to compliment the Jamie Foxx-fronted spaghetti western/slave revolt/action drama/fantasy tale.

    Last fall, the National Entertainment Collectibles Association, Inc. (NECA), in tandem with the Weinstein Company, announced a full line of consumer products based on characters from the movie. First up are pose-able eight-inch action figures with tailored clothing, weaponry, and accessories in the likeness of characters played by Foxx, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, James Remar and Christoph Waltz. The dolls are currently on sale via Amazon.com.


    Consider the possibilities. Little kids can play Calvin J. Candie and make Django and Stephen “Mandingo fight” or act like they’re selling Broomhilda or strip her naked and throw her in just call them “nigger” all day long. Sic the dogs on that lazy slave’s ass or whip ‘em into line. The possibilities are endless!

    This is not bad taste. It’s not even poor taste. It’s exploitative junk. You’ve heard of war profiteers? This is slave profiteering. Quentin Tarantino might not sell Black human beings into bondage, but for $54.99, he’ll sell you a toy of one.
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    Clever User Title Mara's Avatar
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    In fairness, these look like the typical action figures aimed at adult collectors who never open the boxes than anything kids would ever play with. But yeah, tacky.
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    Night, you're exactly right. I'm an unfettered capitalist, but these things are wrong on multiple levels. "Disgusting" isn't a strong enough word.
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    waxing digital artistic Gale Haut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nighttimer View Post

    Consider the possibilities. Little kids can play Calvin J. Candie and make Django and Stephen “Mandingo fight” or act like they’re selling Broomhilda or strip her naked and throw her in just call them “nigger” all day long. Sic the dogs on that lazy slave’s ass or whip ‘em into line. The possibilities are endless!

    This is not bad taste. It’s not even poor taste. It’s exploitative junk. You’ve heard of war profiteers? This is slave profiteering. Quentin Tarantino might not sell Black human beings into bondage, but for $54.99, he’ll sell you a toy of one.
    I'm trying to decide what's worse, taking a child to a graphic Tarantino film or buying the child a 55 dollar collectible doll to destroy.

  6. #6
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    They aren't children's toys, and I'm sure there are a few collectors who might want a set, but I've a stomach churning feeling that the biggest purchasers of these are going to be the sort who like to go out at night wearing their best pressed sheets.

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    "Assume Good Intentions" SuperModerator Williebee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nighttimer View Post
    This is not bad taste. It’s not even poor taste. It’s exploitative junk. You’ve heard of war profiteers? This is slave profiteering. Quentin Tarantino might not sell Black human beings into bondage, but for $54.99, he’ll sell you a toy of one.
    I think this may be too limiting. White kids can twist and torture black dolls. Black kids and twist and torture white ones. They can re-enact Django's vengeance on the characters, or the Mandingo brawls.

    It may seem a minor point to some, but this is slavery profiteering, not slave profiteering. It's profiteering on racism. That may be even more insidious.

    I remember reading someone referring to slavery as "America's Original Sin." If that is even half true this movie isn't "Frodo's Last Stand" or "Rise of The Littles." It is founded on something larger, and raw.

    A film about that, good or bad, a story that can generate debate and promote some learning, is at least something to aspire to. (Not EVEN suggesting this film reached that level, btw.)

    Trying to make a couple extra bucks through common, cheezy toys seems more like ego driven ignorance and greed to me. What's next? The Django Plush?

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    waxing digital artistic Gale Haut's Avatar
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    You guys have blown my mind. I had no idea that so many people were offended by this movie. It just seemed like Tarantino continuing his regular antics and exaggerating common movie tropes to shock audiences. After all, he has always been known for his colorful dialogue and highly derivative movie concepts.

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    Psychopompous AW Moderator RichardGarfinkle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gale Haut View Post
    You guys have blown my mind. I had no idea that so many people were offended by this movie. It just seemed like Tarantino continuing his regular antics and exaggerating common movie tropes to shock audiences. After all, he has always been known for his colorful dialogue and highly derivative movie concepts.
    To a great extent that is exactly the problem. Not all settings are equal and the same set of tropes in one context can amuse where in another they appall.
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    Maybe he'll donate all the proceeds to agencies trying to stop human trafficking. I won't hold my breath or anything.

    Slavery collectors' dolls. I always suspected he was much more of an egotistical idiot than people gave him credit for.
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    This is one movie I absolutely will not see. I am so over Tarantino's artistic style (though I was remarkably impressed with his eloquence on a recent NPR interview). I agree these toys are marketed more for adults then kids. Frankly I don't know what adult needs an action figure from a movie, but that's a whole other story.
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    Absinthe O'Malice TerzaRima's Avatar
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    Nighttime, are you offended only by the action figures, or by the film itself?
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    You can't sit with us! missesdash's Avatar
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    They aren't children's toys. They're action figures, for collecting. He has them for Inglourous Basterds and no one is complaining about children playing with nazis and nazi-killing jews.

    To compare selling a plastic model of Jamie Foxx to trafficking human beings is beyond goofy.

  14. #14
    Old revolutionary muravyets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGarfinkle View Post
    To a great extent that is exactly the problem. Not all settings are equal and the same set of tropes in one context can amuse where in another they appall.
    Quote Originally Posted by backslashbaby View Post
    Maybe he'll donate all the proceeds to agencies trying to stop human trafficking. I won't hold my breath or anything.

    Slavery collectors' dolls. I always suspected he was much more of an egotistical idiot than people gave him credit for.
    Both of these. I get the sense that Mr. Tarantino probably believes he is very clever. I would not be at all surprised to hear someday from him a long, deep, intellectual-jargon-laced explanation of how those action figures are an ironic, post-modern satire on the mass-market commercialism of modern America, where no concept can be understood unless it can be sold as a collectible. But in fact, they are toys sold to make a minor movie more profitable. They trivialize the subject and mock the people they are being sold to.

    I haven't seen this movie yet, and have no plans to, but there are already lots of things about it that irritate me no end. This is just another really big thing to hate about it.
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    Old revolutionary muravyets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by missesdash View Post
    They aren't children's toys. They're action figures, for collecting. He has them for Inglourous Basterds and no one is complaining about children playing with nazis and nazi-killing jews.

    To compare selling a plastic model of Jamie Foxx to trafficking human beings is beyond goofy.
    I didn't know he'd done action figures for Inglorious Bastards (spelling corrected, Mr. Tarantino). I'm offended by that.
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    You can't sit with us! missesdash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGarfinkle View Post
    To a great extent that is exactly the problem. Not all settings are equal and the same set of tropes in one context can amuse where in another they appall.
    Audience matters as well. There was a comedy about slavery released in France a couple of years ago called "Case Départ" and it was really well received, specifically among black Caribbeans, since it's about Caribbean slavery. I've been comparing the two reactions and it is interesting.

    Although from what I'm reading, african american audiences have been really receptive to Django as well (making up half of the audience the day it opened) And Blacademics are about split down the middle.

  17. #17
    My Fist Your Face nighttimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TerzaRima View Post
    Nighttime, are you offended only by the action figures, or by the film itself?
    I'm more offended by the merchandising than I am the movie. The film itself (which I reversed my earlier stance and decided to see for myself) is a bloated revenge fantasy with a freed slave-turned-bounty hunter doing the killing of the loathsome bad guys instead of Eastwood, Bronson or Stallone racking up the body count.

    The excessive usage of the N-word eventually becomes numbing in its non-stop application. The violence is ridiculous with bodies exploding in splattering geysers of blood and gore. The worst thing is the movie is criminally long at nearly three hours in length. There simply isn't enough story to justify that much movie.

    The "toys" are just ridiculous. And a bit obscene. And damned offensive too.

    You can't buy slaves any more but Tarantino and Harvey Weinstein are happy to sell you toy figures of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by missesdash View Post
    They aren't children's toys. They're action figures, for collecting. He has them for Inglourous Basterds and no one is complaining about children playing with nazis and nazi-killing jews.

    To compare selling a plastic model of Jamie Foxx to trafficking human beings is beyond goofy.
    Well missesdash, you can always shell out a couple of hundred dollars, buy the complete set of Django action figures and recreate your favorite scenes from the film. You can make Django and Stephen "Mandingo fight" or strip Broomhilda naked and throw her in the hot box or have Calvin Candie drop N-bombs all day long.

    If you don't think some parent won't buy these action figures for their kids, you probably aren't aware there are dumb-ass parents who are bringing their kids to see Django Unchained.

    In other words, if you don't get why selling slave action figures is exploitative as hell, I can't explain it to you.
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    waxing digital artistic Gale Haut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nighttimer View Post
    In other words, if you don't get why selling slave action figures is exploitative as hell, I can't explain it to you.
    But they aren't just slaves being depicted, they are "fantasy" characters from a movie. And the whole collector doll business is very niche to Tarantino's target audience.

    I have to admit that I really don't get it either. The movie I could kind of see with the dolls in tandem, but I don't understand how someone would only be offended by the dolls.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gale Haut View Post
    But they aren't just slaves being depicted, they are "fantasy" characters from a movie. And the whole collector doll business is very niche to Tarantino's target audience.

    I have to admit that I really don't get it either. The movie I could kind of see with the dolls in tandem, but I don't understand how someone would only be offended by the dolls.
    Perhaps if the dolls came with little teeny whips and chains....
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    You can't sit with us! missesdash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nighttimer View Post

    Well missesdash, you can always shell out a couple of hundred dollars, buy the complete set of Django action figures and recreate your favorite scenes from the film. You can make Django and Stephen "Mandingo fight" or strip Broomhilda naked and throw her in the hot box or have Calvin Candie drop N-bombs all day long.
    I don't collect film action figures and people who do don't generally take them out of the box to "re-enact" film scenes.

    If you don't think some parent won't buy these action figures for their kids, you probably aren't aware there are dumb-ass parents who are bringing their kids to see Django Unchained.
    Lots of movies with adult content have action figures. Bringing children into it doesn't make sense because they aren't marketed towards children or made for children.

    In other words, if you don't get why selling slave action figures is exploitative as hell, I can't explain it to you.
    I get that a lot of people see "action figures" and thing "toys" but they aren't toys. Django Unchained is a film and people collect film memorabilia. It's a blackploitation film and the collectibles are modeled after retro figures. They fall right in line with film's style. I don't think someone should feel guilty over collecting memorabilia of a film they enjoyed (from a director they really like) because some of the characters were slaves.

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    waxing digital artistic Gale Haut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haggis View Post
    Perhaps if the dolls came with little teeny whips and chains....
    If the dolls were representative of just slaves, then yes. But these characters are not just slaves, they are more like superhero characters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gale Haut View Post
    If the dolls were representative of just slaves, then yes. But these characters are not just slaves, they are more like superhero characters.
    I don't see superheroes, I see exploitation. Different strokes, I guess.
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    Quote Originally Posted by missesdash View Post
    Lots of movies with adult content have action figures. Bringing children into it doesn't make sense because they aren't marketed towards children or made for children.
    I agree. I can kind of understand being uncomfortable with the action figures, but bringing children into it as an explanation does not make sense to me. These are marketed for adult collectors, not children. And it's highly unlikely that most collectors are going to buy them to "play" with.

    I can see how there could be unfortunate implications in selling action figures that are depicting characters who are slaves. But aside from that, I have a hard time seeing how this is any more exploitative than the film itself. I haven't seen the movie or read very much commentary about it, so I don't know how exploitative it is (or isn't). However, from my understanding, it is supposed to resemble spaghetti westerns and blacksploitation films, so I think releasing memorabilia is in keeping with the tone.

    I also wonder where we should draw the line. There was a Harriet Tubman action figure set (which I remember seeing as a kid) that's clearly 1. marketed toward children and 2. designed to teach kids about the Underground Railroad and inspire interest in it. In this case, we have something where a slave and a real person who was once a slave actually are rendered as action figures for children to buy and play with. But it's also designed to be a positive and educational representation.

    If selling action figures of slaves or former slaves has unfortunate implications, period, then I'd say the Harriet Tubman set is probably worse. If the issue is what the figures represent, then I don't think there necessarily is an issue. The Tarantino figures are meant for adults.

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    My Fist Your Face nighttimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gale Haut View Post
    But they aren't just slaves being depicted, they are "fantasy" characters from a movie. And the whole collector doll business is very niche to Tarantino's target audience.

    I have to admit that I really don't get it either. The movie I could kind of see with the dolls in tandem, but I don't understand how someone would only be offended by the dolls.
    Look at it this way...

    If you had little kids and some idiot gave them Django action figures as a gift, do you really want them playing "massa and slave" or "house Negro vs. field Negro?"

    Somebody call Spielberg. Maybe he can get some Schindler's List action figures out for next Xmas. Yes kids, you can be that funny Nazi, Amon Goeth, as he shoots down Jewish prisoners. Cool, huh?

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    Joker Groupie Celia Cyanide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nighttimer View Post
    If you had little kids and some idiot gave them Django action figures as a gift, do you really want them playing "massa and slave" or "house Negro vs. field Negro?"
    No. No, I would not. But then I wouldn't let my kid play with action figures from any R-rated movie. If some idiot gave them to my kid, I wouldn't let my (hypothetical) kid keep them. It would just make them whine that they couldn't see a movie they were too young to see.

    These aren't toys. They're collectibles for adults. And I know it's true that some kids might end up with them anyway, just like some stupid parents might take their kids to see DJANGO. But I've never been a fan of the theory that things meant for adults should not exist, just because irresponsible parents will show it to their kids.

    Having said all of that, it warms my heard to see such a backlash against Quentin Tarantino. I've never thought he was very good, and I have been fed up with the whole world kissing his ass for the last 20 years.
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