Full disclosure: I have not seen Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained, which has caused all kinds of controversy. I know that the movie features Jamie Foxx as a former slave trying to save his wife, played by Kerry Washington. I know it’s incredibly violent. And I know that it uses an extremely distasteful racial slur over and over and over again. By all accounts, the movie, which has plenty of people up in arms, is not meant for children. So why on earth are there Django Unchained action figures?
That’s right. A company called NECA is selling action figures for the extremely violent, rated-R movie. This has people in the entertainment industry making statements to The Daily Beast saying, “This doll shit is crazy. But Quentin Tarantino believes in what he’s got and it seems he is not believing anything less.” It has Amazon reviewers leaving comments dripping with sarcasm and disdain like, “WOW! Finally, a little darky to call my own! I can’t wait to put him to work in the Big House with Missy Barbie and Massa Ken!”
There’s just one issue with all this outrage. It has nothing to do with action figures or children playing with them. These aren’t “Django dolls” for kids to reenact their own violent historically-based massacres. They are collectible action figures made for adults, the kind that are available for absolutely every Quentin Tarantino movie that he’s ever directed.
I’m serious. You can buy Kill Bill action figures. You can find Reservoir Dogs action figures. You can find Inglorious Basterds action figures. There are lots and lots of action figures and collectibles made for adult movies. They aren’t intended for children to play with. They aren’t trying to indoctrinate children into the world of entertainment violence. And whatever people’s issues are with Django Unchained, these action figures are not unique to this movie.
In fact, if someone actually wanted to get worked up about action figures from violent movies being sold to children, I don’t think their anger should be directed at Tarantino. He seems to work with a single company that sells the collectibles through online forums. He isn’t shoving them in a Toys R Us aisle. The Dark Knight series of movies, featuring every little boy’s favorite caped crusader, had tons of toys specifically marketed towards kids. My daughter has an Anne Hathaway ”Catwoman,” and wanted to know why she couldn’t see the movie. The latest in the Batman series was exceedingly violent and definitely not for children, yet no one made a huge fuss over their action figures which were marketed directly to kids.
I can understand that if people take offense to Tarantino’s movie, they’re not going to like anything associated with it. And I realize that at first glance, hearing about action figures from a movie that deals with the extreme violence of slavery is a little alarming. But I don’t think we should start shrieking, “Think about the children!” just yet. These aren’t kids toys. And the wave of sentiment against Django has nothing to do with kids. Let’s keep the debate in it’s proper sphere and try not to create additional controversy for controversy’s sake.