The case has been made that Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” shows disrespect to its female characters and that, albeit a fun-loving and defiant shoot-em-up, the revenge fantasy can’t be compared to other comedies that play with race, like Mel Brooks’s horse-bucking “Blazing Saddles.” As for Spike Lee’s disrespectful-to-our-ancestors critique, which continues to stoke debate, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson says no.
The blaxploitation heavy recently told NY Mag that Spike’s argument doesn’t hold water — “Why doesn’t Spike make a slavery movie? I’m available, Spike! We can make Nigger Charley 2, or Nigger Charley 3 and 4!” — but he also won’t go see “Django.” The whole thing is just too close to home for Williamson — er, too close to work:
My friend Jamie Foxx gave a good performance. But I’m still alive. I’m still capable. I’m still able. I still look the way I looked in the seventies. There are no new wrinkles. I can still jump out of cars and jump out of planes and do all the things I did. I still want to be in a position where they say, “Bring me the Hammer! Don’t bring me somebody that looks like the Hammer, acts like the Hammer, talks like the Hammer; bring me the Hammer!”
You don’t go knocking on the door of a guy like [Tarantino] and say, “Hey, put me in your movie.” If he wants you in the movie, then he’ll call you. I haven’t been called, so I’m not needed. But I’m emulated. I’m not needed, but I’m emulated.
No question The Hammer has the credentials. After spending eight seasons in the NFL and AFL, Williamson starred in ass-kicking classics such as “The Legend of Nigger Charley” (1972), “Black Caesar” (1973), “The Soul of Nigger Charley” (1973), “Boss Nigger” (1975) and, more recognizably for you kids, the cigar-wielding Vietnam veteran in Robert Rodriguez’s “From Dusk Till Dawn” (1995). Simply put, Williamson calls bullshit on the racist argument. To him, it’s just show business.
Let’s make another “Nigger Charley”. That would not be as controversial as when I made it. The word nigger is not as big a deal today. I mean, that was a dirty word back in the sixties and seventies. We were still going through the transition, man. They were still siccing dogs on black people, hosing down black people on the corner. So what I did was controversial, and some people came to see what it was really like. We live in America. Controversy sells.