The Glover Report: Has Slave Doll Controversy Entered the New 'Door of No Return'?
Doll controversy, the NAACP, and the Image of Black America
(BALTIMORE – January 9, 2013) – Yesterday, a national attack was in full steam as the “Django Unchained” slave doll controversy hit record proportions by way of the Internet. Between bloggers, journalists, and Social Media – which is most anybody with a computer – the topic was the talk of the web.
While the movie seemed to have gotten a pass, the dolls or action figures have conjured up the vestiges of slavery. Never before in the history of America has there been a mass-produced action figure portraying a slave.
Some of the African American response has questioned why it is a big deal. Other response has been traditional African American – one of paying homage to the ancestors who endured slavery so that the masses could have a better life, yet never forgetting the struggle and how the fight for freedom, justice, and equality never ended. The latter was disgusted with the doll.
Whatever the take, NECA was initially proud of the action figure. On their website, they noted:
“NECA And The Weinstein Company Are Pleased To Announce Agreement To Produce Django Unchained Consumer Products!
NECA to bring line of apparel, action figures, and accessories for Quentin Tarantino’s newest and highly anticipated film, Django Unchained, this winter
The National Entertainment Collectibles Association, Inc. (NECA) is proud to work alongside The Weinstein Company and Quentin Tarantino to produce a full line of consumer products based off of Tarantino’s Django Unchained.
This upcoming western film, written and directed by the legendary Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill and more), takes place in the deep south, where a slave-turned-bounty hunter (Jamie Foxx) sets forth to rescue his wife from a brutal but charming plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).
“We’re very excited to bring the stellar cast of Django to life”, says Joel Weinshanker, President of NECA, “and honored to be working with another Tarantino masterpiece”.
Similar to the retro toy lines that helped define the licensed action figure market in the 1970s this collection will include poseable 8” action figures with tailored western clothing, authentic weapons and accessories, as well as a full apparel and accessories line. Characters included are:
- Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio)
- Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson)
- Django (Jaime Foxx)
- Broomhilda (Kerry Washington)
- Butch (James Remar)
- And Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz)
Initial product launch will begin this November 2012.
Yet, yesterday – a firestorm went across America as disdain a’plenty mounted against this product. People asked why in the world would they buy a doll that only lowers the self-esteem of black people.
What’s particularly disturbing to me is that this comes at a time in history when we have our first black president. Why in the world would anybody think it is okay to remind people of such a painful time. What America needs is healing.
These are some of yesterday’s headlines:
NY DAILY NEWS: 'Django Unchained' action figures spark call for national boycott by Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network
'Selling this doll is highly offensive to our ancestors and the African American community,' Rev. K.W. Tulloss, NAC's president in Los Angeles, told the Daily News.
COLOR LINES: Django Unchained Action Figures Causing Even More Controversy
Quentin Tarantino’s slave revenge fantasy “Django Unchained” remained at the number two spot this past weekend and is on track to become the director’s top-grossing film in North America.
The film’s release came with a lot of criticism and new actions figures released alongside the movie are causing even more controversy.
VIBE: Slave Action Figures? Django Unchained Dolls Debut
Django Unchained is a critical success, a box office smash, and one of the buzziest movies of the last year. But it has also been a lightning rod for controversy: from Spike Lee denouncing it to the harsh language and gore, there's been a lot to question about the flick. But this may take the cake.
'Django Unchained' action figures go on sale, stir up controversy
The one piece not found yet is the NAACP’s take on the slave dolls. After all, the NAACP proudly announced an Image Award for the film. I have not seen it. A lot of African Americans – prior to the doll controversy this week – liked the movie and felt like critics, such as Spike Lee, needed to put a sock in it.
So, now that the doll controversy has erupted, doesn’t it really bring to mind just why in the world are we giving an Image Award to this movie in the first place? What image are we talking about here?
Do we give it an Image Award for honor, for charcter, for integrity? Or do we give it an Image Award for killing people – at a time when violence is the last thing America needs? I’m confused. I’m slow. Can somebody help me out? What am I missing here?
I’ll go a step further: What does being black mean any more? What used to be isn’t? What was important is now irrelevant – if you let somebody tell the story who really doesn’t know the story. The truth is – African Americans are amongst the strongest, most beautiful people of planet earth. And, despite a litany of challenges, there is nonetheless a greatness in us that has yet to be explored.
I say, continue to listen to the wisdom of the elders – like Harry Belafonte. A man who has gone every step of the way of the fight for black people in the world – Mr. Belafonte is the quintessential example of a champion for our cause. If we can tap back into the greatness of people like him and Minister Louis Farrakhan, Black America has a chance to rise from the ashes in an unprecedented fashion.
However, unless foolishness like slave dolls are treated for the insult it is, Black America may have entered a new ‘door of no return.’