The Fantastic Mr. Jamie Foxx
The internet is stupid, according to Jamie Foxx. When asked about criticism regarding his new film, “Django Unchained,” the star is adamant about the fact the online naysayers — who have been critical of the film’s frequent use of the n-word by both black and white characters — are irrelevant. As long as Oprah approves, everything’s basically okay.
“When Oprah saw it, we were like ….” Foxx gives us a terrified stare. The film walks a fine line between accuracy and exploitation. This was a border that everyone involved with the film seemed concerned about crossing, particularly Foxx, who portrays a freed slave determined to rescue his wife from a plantation in the pre-Civil War South by becoming a bounty hunter.
“[Oprah] was like, ‘I loved it. It was hard to watch in some spots. I cannot believe I was laughing in some spots at some of these things because you know me, I’m super-black woman.’ I’m paraphrasing.”
Even director of the film, Quentin Tarantino found himself susceptible to the online criticism about the film, according to Foxx.
“A couple friends of mine, entertainers, read so much of it until they shut down,” Foxx says. “Even Quentin calls me, says ‘man.’ I’m like, ‘what? Who gives a f–k. They’re on the internet.’ The internet to me is nothing.”
Foxx has an explanation for all the ire, for his movie and on the internet in general.
“What it comes down to is what I call subliminal jealousy,” he says. “A lot of people aren’t artists. A lot of people aren’t special, so all they can do is stand on the outside and just say the loudest, craziest, zaniest s–t in the world. I actually laugh at most of the stuff, but that’s all it is.”
But the film is receiving an equal amount of praise for it’s unflinchingly violent picture of life in the South, just two years before the Civil War. While the brutality is graphic, in a marked contrast, there are plenty of hilarious moments. It’s the kind of juxtaposition that is the hallmark of a Tarantino film.
“[The characters Kerry Washington and I played] were more the grounded characters and then all of these funny things that happen around them, which I think is so necessary, because it gave people some relief,” Foxx says. “I know a lot of black folks just breathed a little easier. I mean, it’s still tough, but I think there were colorful moments that made it an entertaining ride as opposed to a gut-wrenching thing that was going to hold you down for two hours and 34 minutes. That’s what people have been doing — ‘Wasn’t it hilarious?’ ‘It was gut-wrenching.’”
Q. Should a white man direct a movie about slavery?
A. I think that’s amateur stuff. This is Quentin Tarantino. If it was anybody else, you’d have worried, but it’s Quentin Tarantino. Here’s what you’re saying in that statement: you’re saying that that director is not capable. And what if — just what if –Quentin Tarantino is just better than everyone else? He’s just better at telling these stories than everybody else would, so you just have to factor that in because you cheapen what he is as an artist if you say that he can’t tell this story, that story. … I ran into Spike Lee and he said ‘I’m not gonna say nothing bad about the movie.’ And you know Spike Lee — that’s his thing. And for Spike Lee to say that, I think he understands the genius of Quentin.
And back to that N-word controversy
“I’m from Texas, so being in the south, there’s a racial component. And I love the south. There’s no other place I’d rather be from, but there are racial components in the South — me being called n–r as a kid, so when I read the script, I didn’t knee-jerk to the word n–r like someone from New York or L.A. would knee-jerk, because that was something that I experienced.” — Jamie Foxx on the frequent racial slurs in “Django Unchained.”