Sunday, January 6, 2013

Quentin unchained

Poor Quentin Tarantino. The master of uberviolence has been challenged a bit lately over his latest film Django Unchained and he hasn’t taken it all that well. First there was the conservative news aggregation website, Drudge Report, which lead off its headlines with a pic of Quentin and the N-word written below it seven times. The point? It wasn't explained but probably because the N-word is used repeatedly throughout Quentin's film of the slave era pre-Civil War..... "I think it's kind of ridiculous, because no one can actually say with a straight face that we use the word more than it was used in 1858 in Mississippi. So since they can't say that, what they're basically [saying] is I should lie," a peeved director told MTVNews.  "I should pretty it up. I should lie, and I don't lie when it comes to my characters and the stories I tell." He also said to "consider the source" meaning conservatives would go out of their way attacking him for the use of this kind of language. I rather agree with Tarantino. His movie is trying to depict historical reality. On the other hand I like to see someone like Tarantino and other Hollywood and music artists brought up on the use of the N-word, at least to provoke discussion. Let's count the number of rappers who use the N-word. It's like there's one rule for everyone else - and another for artists and various racial subcultures. Another example is the up and coming author - and current toast of the literary scene - Junot Diaz and his new book This is How You Lose Her, where the N-word is spiced liberally throughout the first chapter (I didn't get any further).....Then poor Quentin was taken to task by Terry Gross, host of NPR's Fresh Air, in what I understand was a bit of testy interview last week. Gross asked how appropriate the sort of wall to wall violence there is in films like Django and Tarantino's other movies are in light of the recent  mass murder of school children in Newtown, Ct. From the interview's transcript: TARANTINO: (reacting to Gross's questioning) Yeah, I'm really annoyed (by you). I think it's disrespectful. I think it's disrespectful to their memory, actually. GROSS: With whose memory? TARANTINO: The memory of the people who died to talk about movies. I think it's totally disrespectful to their memory. Obviously, the issue is gun control and mental health (not movie violence)....Now I'm hardly one for censoring movies and I have been a - limited - fan of Tarantino (sometime I'll tell you my personal Tarantino story). But I have absolutely no problem with a director like him being grilled on the topic of violence and its alleged connection to real life events. Tarantino, a liberal (as is Gross) categorically says movie violence has nothing to do with real life crime and gun violence. Well, perhaps. Perhaps the cause is a number of things - access to guns, and a media culture drenched in violence from movies to video games. But, please Quentin, why so defensive?

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