Al Sharpton Unchained by Django Dolls
And here we go. Django does not rhyme with Golliwog, but it might as well.
Regarding the ire over the ‘Django Unchained’ promotional dolls, I may not agree with Sharpton, but I get his point. This is the same sticky wicket, or if you’ll allow, tar baby, we run into when dealing with American slavery. We’ve swept it under the rug and have never truly dealt with the cultural and emotional fallout it wrought on its victims and society as a whole. Ergo, the idea of “slave dolls,” causes a knee jerk reaction even if said dolls are tastefully done and strictly intended as film collectables for adults. Due to the uproar, the Weinstein Company halted production of the dolls and released a statement of apology emphasizing that “it was never [their] intent to offend anyone.”
In a comment to the Daily Mail, Rev. K.W. Tulloss of Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAC) said, “Selling this doll is highly offensive to our ancestors and the African American community. The movie is for adults, but these are action figures that appeal to children. We don’t want other individuals to utilize them for their entertainment, to make a mockery of slavery.”
Do I think Sharpton and NAC may be overreacting? Sure. But, considering our history of trivializing the black experience with Golliwog dolls, Aunt Jemima cakes and collectible Coon mugs, I can sense where Tulloss and Sharpton are coming from. And for those of you luckily unfamiliar with Golliwogs, they are caricaturish blackface minstrel dolls that are a point of sore contention for many in the black community. They’ve been popular since the 19th century and unfortunately show no signs of going away.
I think the real issue is why the Weinstein Company didn’t do a better marketing job in distancing their “Django Unchained” action figures from the stench of the still very popular and racist Golliwog dolls. (Just search for Golliwog on EBay or Etsy and you’ll see what I mean).
Let’s face it, if you’re making a movie about slaves, planning on having collectable slave action figures, live in a country with a slave history, and plan to sell said slave action figures in the aforementioned country with the aforementioned slave history, then I would suggest (pre-slave doll production) hiring the best spin agent money can buy to make it clear that when it comes to Django dolls, they are not your grandmother’s slave dolls.