Saturday, January 19, 2013

Blood Stained Lapels Prove Truly Prophetic In 'Django Unchained'

Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead!

During his face-off with the conniving house slave Stephen, Django Freeman triumphantly declared himself “That one nigger in ten thousand.”  Indeed, the film’s cartoonish finale proved him to be just that.  Such flamboyant touches have always been a major part of Quentin Tarantino’s oeuvre.  After all, the guy has never been known for his subtlety.  In fact, a friend and colleague of mine very recently pointed out a rather sneaky (and potentially inflammatory) bit of foreshadowing in regards to Django’s self-proclaimed status.  

For about 18 minutes of the first act, Django wears the blood spattered jacket that was taken from the character Ace Speck, whom was killed by Dr. King Schultz in the film’s opening.  The blood spatters/smears are especially visible on the jacket's lapels, where they spell out the infamous acronym H.N.I.C, which means "Head Nigga In Charge."  Anyone familiar with the 1989 biopic Lean On Me knows this phrase well.  The “H” appears on the right lapel.  It's followed by The “N,” which is deceptively split between the right and left lapels. The final two letters both appear on the right lapel.  Even the most attentive viewers probably missed this, unless they perused the film's negative frame by frame with a jeweler’s glass.  Just below is the clearest shot I could find:   

Django Freeman (Jamie Foxx) with a prophetic acronym spelled out in blood on his jacket lapels.

So can this be considered foreshadowing, subliminal suggestion, or an inside joke?  Is it yet another example of Quentin Tarantino making light of slavery, only this time in a much sneakier way?  Not only was the dreaded N-word used well over one hundred times throughout the course of the film, but the hero actually wears a coat emblazoned with an acronym containing it (and written in the blood of a slaver, no less).  Maybe this can be seen as a bit of iconography, or a throwback to Fred Williamson’s Blaxploitation westerns, all of which contained the word “nigger” in the title.  At this point, I really don’t know what to think.  Either way, I am thankful to Allen Scott Gordon for pointing this out to me. 

Update on 1/20/2013 at 8:54am EST: 

Another  friend/contact of mine recently passed this photo on to me after I showed him this article.  The lighting is a little better, as is the overall picture quality. The phrase is somewhat visible on the lapels:

Django Freeman (Jamie Foxx) on horseback, wearing a jacket that has the acronym "HNIC" spelled out in blood on the lapels.