Jesse Williams: 'Django' is 'careless, crass, arrogant'
Posted February 24, 2013
It's Oscar week, and Grey's Anatomy actor Jesse Williams is speaking out against one of the best-picture nominees, Django Unchained.
He put his thoughts in a blog post for CNN on Thursday, critical of Quentin Tarantino's slavery portrayal.
"How does depicting slave plantations like circus campgrounds, fit with delirious, babbling overseers wielding bull whips and overdressed rabble wandering aimlessly, further Django's truth?" he wrote, calling the movie a "lazy, oversimplified reduction of our history."
At Saturday's Montblanc/UNICEF brunch, Williams explained to USA TODAY that he thought the film was "worthy of criticial analysis, instead of more fluffy thoughts" he had seen.
And he has gotten "an incredible amount of reaction" to the essay.
Almost all of it is has been positive, he says. "I got specific notes all over Twitter, especially, from people who were really grateful to have somebody articulate something they weren't able to articulate. A lot of people said, 'It sat funny with me. I like Tarantino and I like these actors, but something felt off about this experience. I didn't quite know how to articulate that and figure out why I was feeling the way I was feeling. And this really put it in a clear, non-emotional, technical layout of why this is important and how this could have been done tastefully.' "
He continues, "I thought this was a careless, crass, arrogant, reckless effort that didn't need to be that way."
He also says, "I don't think it comes from a point of malice. I don't accuse anybody of having ill intentions. This is about being reckless and doing damage that's unnecessary."
He says he hasn't heard from Tarantino. "I don't know that I will but we all work here ..."
Williams, who is a Temple University graduate and former public high school teacher, said the critique was "academic for me. This is a simple analysis. I don't have a personal beef with anybody."
And, he says he waited this long to see if somebody else would address it. Spike Lee did voice objection to excessive use of the n-word in the film a few months ago.
"He didn't watch the film, though," says Williams. "He was getting cast aside for his words lacking merit because he had not analyzed the work."
Williams hopes to stir a "real conversation'" about the film. "This is often a default for Tarantino's film: 'Oh, at least it's stirring conversation.' And what I say is just showing up isn't stirring the conversation. You have to contribute something to it, which he has clearly done in the pantheon of filmmaking. I think artists are entitled to their art. But he came out and said I'm doing you a favor, I'm giving you a hero, I'm exploring slavery. And I say no you're not."
Latest in Entertainment