I was watching a news show one morning when I saw a film clip of a Black Lives Matter rally in New York. The speakers were unanimous in their opinion that the police in this nation are gunning down innocent Black men at an alarming rate.
I have heard this before and I agree Black men are being shot by the police but to accuse every police officer of being part of a murdering cabal I found ludicrous if not ridiculous. To accuse the police of murder was something I might have expected from someone who lived in a depressed area and viewed life through the prism of racism.
What I did find disturbing were the comments of one Quentin Jerome Tarantino. This is a man who has made his fortune pedaling violence. Extreme violence.
At the Oct. 24 rally in New York Tarantino told the crowd, “When I see murders, I do not stand by … I have to call a murder a murder and I have to call the murderers the murderers.”
The people he was calling murderers are the police.
I believe Mr. Tarantino’s comments were ill advised and, mainly false. The national news feasts on every police shooting. The police, because we hold them to a higher standard, are savaged when they fail to reach an ever higher standard of conduct.
The well known Ferguson incident spawned the “hands up, don’t shoot” slogan that was proved to be based on false information. That didn’t matter to the rioting crowds and the U. S. Justice Department that could not wait to investigate that city’s police department.
The yet-to-be-tried case in Baltimore touched off riots and destroyed that city’s police force. Now the crime rate is soaring and the under story is that the police back off rather than being sued. Maybe the police were wrong and maybe they were not. That will be decided in the courts.
What Mr. Tarantino did was rush to judgment. That works in his movies where the heroes are never wrong and can do just about anything they please.
Tarantino produced “Kill Bill I” and II. In one scene Uma Thurman wipes out a gang of Japanese gangsters with her sword leaving a gore covered restaurant in her wake. There were more people killed in that scene than there are murders in Baltimore in a year.
Another Tarantino blockbuster, “Pulp Fiction”, was littered with bodies throughout because the heroes were two hit men. Lesser characters were a boxer, petty thief and a man who cleaned up murder scenes. It was a violent movie.
Tarantino followed that with “Inglorious Basterds” which was a World War II alternate history that left a division of dead Nazis on the screen. Many of those Germans were battered to death with a baseball bat. In was one of the most violent movies I have ever seen.
“Django Unchained” was another violent flick and, frankly, I had no desire to see yet another violent distortion of history. When you look at this much honored director, producer and writer, violence has been his best friend. I invite you to take a peak at his achievements. It is an eye-opener. I wondered how someone who has made a career of violence could ever make those comments with a straight face.
The backlash was not long in coming. One by one, the NYPD, LAPD, Philadelphia PD, Houston PD and Chicago PD unions – representing the five largest police department unions in the country – announced that they are boycotting Tarantino. On Nov. 2, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, the world’s largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers, fired off a letter saying that the FOP’s 330,000 members have joined the boycott of The Hateful Eight, which is scheduled to be released Christmas Day.
Tarantino addressed the controversy for the first time, telling the Los Angeles Times that he wouldn’t be intimidated by the growing number of police boycotts aimed at him. “Instead of dealing with the incidents of police brutality that those people were bringing up, instead of examining the problem of police brutality in this country, better they single me out,” he said. “And their message is very clear. It’s to shut me down. It’s to discredit me. It is to intimidate me. It is to shut my mouth, and even more important than that, it is to send a message out to any other prominent person that might feel the need to join that side of the argument.”
He added: “All cops are not murderers. I never said that. I never even implied that.”
Sorry, but you did.
Tarantino seems to have a very distorted view of his own impact on violence. He believes he can take part in a rally condemning police but that his movies have had no impact on the rising wave of lawlessness.
Tarantino does not believe that violence in movies inspires acts of violence in real life. In an interview after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, he expressed “annoyance” at the suggestion that there is a link between the two, saying, “I think it’s disrespectful to [the] memory of those who died to talk about movies. ... Obviously the issue is gun control and mental health.”
So it is perfectly OK for his movies to display mounds of bodies, heaps of dismembered arms and legs (hacked off with a sword) but not OK for the police to use violence, usually as a last resort, to defend peaceful citizens.
Tarantino defends himself by asserting his civil rights. “I was under the impression I was an American and that I had first amendment rights, and there was no problem with me going to an anti-police brutality protest and speaking my mind,” Tarantino.
And who, Mr. Tarantino, do you think is protecting that First Amendment Right?
Mr. Tarantino is perfectly correct. He does have the right to speak his mind. And those 330,000 F.O.P. members also have the right not to attend your next movie. Words have meaning and carry consequences. Just ask Mel Gibson.
I have a list of Hollywood characters that I have elected not to support with my theater admission. Mr. Tarantino has made my list.