Director Quentin Tarantino is known for controversy almost as much as the signature gore of his films. The latest quarrel in which he finds himself involves recent comments made during a rally against police brutality in New York City.
“I’m a human being with a conscience,” Tarantino said, according to the Associated Press. “And if you believe there’s murder going on then you need to rise up and stand up against it. I’m here to say I’m on the side of the murdered.”
Tarantino’s words have been interpreted as inflammatory and anti-police, first by the New York Police Department and, as of Wednesday, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, LAPD’s largest union. They were joined by a police union in Philadelphia in calling for a boycott of the director’s films. Tarantino’s new movie, “The Hateful Eight,” premieres on Christmas Day.
Tarantino has yet to respond to the controversy.
The director of course likes to mix it up. Earlier this year, he was in hot water after an interview in the New York Times’ T Magazine where he spoke on the Oscars “snub,” as it’s been deemed, of Ava DuVernay’s “Selma.” In the piece, writer Bret Easton Ellis quotes Tarantino as saying, “She did a really good job on ‘Selma’ but ‘Selma’ deserved an Emmy.”
For the record: An earlier version of this post misidentified writer Bret Easton Ellis as Bret East Ellison.
DuVernay responded diplomatically saying, “Everybody is entitled to their own opinion.”
In an email to Indiewire’s Anne Thompson, Tarantino clarified his comments saying he was misquoted.
“I’m writing you to pass on that the quote from the NY Times piece about ‘Selma’ is wrong,” he wrote. “I never saw ‘Selma.’ I did say the line ‘it deserved an Emmy,’ but when I said it, it was more like a question... There was no slam intended.”
Tarantino however did slam film critic Jan Wahl in a 2003 interview ahead of the premeire of “Kill Bill.” Though regarded by many, including the filmmaker himself, as a story of female empowerment, Wahl, then of San Francisco’s KRON, didn’t agree. In an on-air interview with him, things got heated as she pushed back on the director’s assertion that 12-year-old girls would be empowered by the film. In response, Tarantino called the critic out for conflating real life with the film.
“Jan, you’re all messed up because you’re talking about real life and I’m talking about the movie,” he said. “You’ve got to get it straight.”
Perhaps the most contentious of Tarantino’s feuds however may be the longstanding one between fellow director Spike Lee. Before the release of Tarantino’s slavery drama, “Django Unchained,” Lee vowed that he wouldn’t see the film because of its unrestrained use of the N-word.
“I can’t speak on it ’cause I’m not gonna see it,” Lee told Vibe magazine. “The only thing I can say is it’s disrespectful to my ancestors to see that film.”
Tarantino defended his use of the word in an interview with the Root’s editor and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., calling the criticism “ridiculous.”
“If you’re going to make a movie about slavery and are taking a 21st-century viewer and putting them in that time period, you’re going to hear some things that are going to be ugly, and you’re going to see some things that are going to be ugly,” he said. “That’s just part and parcel of dealing truthfully with this story, with this environment, with this land.”
The use of the N-word has been central to many of Tarantino’s scripts dating to his debut film, “Reservoir Dogs.” Lee has voiced his distaste of the director since Tarantino’s 1997 film “Jackie Brown,” which also used the word frequently.
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