The movie "Django Unchained" is Quentin Tarantino's blood-and-guts look at slavery and revenge. And now, thanks to the National Entertainment Collectibles Association (in conjunction with studio The Weinstein Company), it has spawned a series of action figures, available for purchase on Amazon.
And that has led to a brewing controversy over the six poseable, 8" figures, which feature clothes, weapons and accessories. Slaves Django and his wife Broomhilda are featured, along with cruel slaveowner Calvin Candie (played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film) and his equally evil slave, Stephen (played by Samuel L. Jackson). Christoph Waltz's bounty hunter, Dr. Schultz, also has a figure, as does James Remar's Butch.
EurWeb.com reports that Project Islamic Hope and "a coalition of African-American community leaders" are calling a press conference Tuesday to announce a boycott.
African-American film critic Tim Gordon told The Daily Beast he first thought the dolls were just memorabilia, but then expressed some concerns over the lack of reaction to dolls based on slaves and slavemasters. "People don't speak up. People have gotten so -- I don't know if the word is 'comfortable' or 'naive.' We just want to go along to get along and it's very frustrating."
The existence of the dolls are not entirely news; the announcement that they would be released in conjunction with the movie was made last fall, said the Beast. The publication quoted the NECA's president at the time as saying he was "very excited to bring the stellar cast of 'Django' to life and honored to be working with another Tarantino masterpiece." (NECA also created action figures for Tarantino's "Kill Bill.")
NECA's dolls are not made for playing with by young children; on Amazon the "Django" dolls are listed as being designed for ages 15-and-up, and other toys from the company include characters from "Rambo," "Carrie" and "Friday the 13th." But there are also dolls from movies geared to a teen audience, such as "Hunger Games" and "E.T."
This isn't "Django's" first brush with controversy; the film has been cited for its use of the N-word (common in Tarantino films) and shunned by luminaries such as Spike Lee, who called it "disrespectful."