Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino is known neither for subtle dialogue nor sedate films, so when he attended the Rise Up rally against police brutality in New York in October, of course he went “Super Fly T.N.T.”
At the rally, Tarantino said, “I’m a human being with a conscience. 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.”
Unsurprisingly—at least for those of us who reside outside of Hollywood—he sounded as though he was asserting that all police officers are murderers. There is no need to divine if that was his intent. His thoroughly documented propensity for hyperbole and bombast suggest he was not actually asserting that all police officers are murderers.
There’s also the fact that Tarantino feels comfortable calling the police to come to his own home. Most people avoid inviting licensed murderers over to help them out of a jam.
Say ‘What’ Again. I Dare You, I Double-Dare You!
But Tarantino isn’t backing down. He’s going with a classic “I’m sorry, but…” non-apology. In an interview with Glenn Whipp at the Los Angeles Times, he offered a mild clarification. “All cops are not murderers. I never said that. I never even implied that.” Thanks for clearing that up, because it did sort of sound like you were implying that. Maybe you could’ve skipped offering these thoughts about those who disagree with you, though:
“What they’re doing is pretty obvious. 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. 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.”
How are those critical of his arguments singling him out? How are they shutting him down and discrediting him? They’re calling for a boycott of “The Hateful Eight,” Tarantino’s upcoming release. That’s it. That’s not exactly silencing him (although I suppose if a movie shows to an empty theater, does it really make any sound?).
Regardless, those on the Right aren’t generally given to boycotts since they’re stupid and ineffective, so it’s likely a moot point. That’s not stopping Tarantino, though. He’s going all-in, albeit not in hostile territory.
Wait for the Wolf, Who Should be Arriving Directly
While his comments may not have played in Peoria, they’re doing great inside the echo chamber. Tarantino isn’t one to back down from a fight, though, so he stepped outside the echo chamber and went on “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Friday. He dug in, referring to the problem of police shooting unarmed people as a “hydra”: “The biggest head that needs to be chopped off first is this blue-wall idea. The idea that they protect their own rather than put themselves at the betterment of citizenry. I think it’s inside the institution itself.”
Umm, Quentin, implying that all officers are accomplices isn’t exactly the opposite of implying they’re all murderers. In fact, accomplices are often punished just as harshly as the primary perpetrator. For a person so fond of crime drama, this shouldn’t be hard.
Of course, given it was “Real Time,” Tarantino didn’t get any pushback. Instead, he was lauded. Maher isn’t the only everyday citizen defending Tarantino. Michael Moore took a break from touring various all-you-can-eat buffets for pictures to post on Instagram to instead post a message of support on Instagram.
Quentin Tarantino, a brave and good American, standing with families who’ve lost loved ones to police violence. Now certain police, the same ones who defend the cops who’ve killed unarmed innocent black citizens, are out to get Tarantino. They’ve called for a boycott of his movies. Really? I think just the opposite. I think millions of us not only stand with Tarantino, we’re going to make sure we go see his next movie! Who’s with me? Stay strong Quentin. They’re just frightened and in shock that a well-known and respected white guy would dare to speak out.
Mark Ruffalo got in on the act, noting the strong persecution artists face for voicing opinions that are at odds with those of average Americans.
To be fair, it’s not just famous left-wing activists with loose definitions about what it means to be silenced who are supporting Tarantino. The hashtag #SideWithQuentin is pulling in a number of tweets, including many from everyday Americans.
But it doesn’t speak for all Americans, even if concern about police brutality isn’t as partisan as Tarantino, et. al. imagine it to be. Because it isn’t. What Hollywood doesn’t realize is that if Tarantino had offered a more measured and less defiant response, people might notice that the point he’s claiming he made has some validity.
He Is Truly His Brother’s Keeper and the Finder of Lost Children
For example, here at The Federalist we’ve offered quite a bit on the subject. Here is a call for police reform Daniel Payne wrote after the Sandra Bland tragedy. Rachel Lu examined conservative reticence with regard to reforming the entire criminal justice system, noting that American citizens are “100 times more likely to be shot by policemen than Brits.”
After Eric Garner was murdered on the street, Sean Davis wrote, “John Edwards was right: there are Two Americas. There’s an America where people who kill for no legitimate reason are held to account, and there’s an America where homicide isn’t really a big deal as long as you play for the right team.”
It’s not just at this publication, either. Red State’s Leon Wolf is brilliant on the subject, and has written about problems with taking officers to court and why conservatives shouldn’t take the side of the Ferguson police department, as well as pointing out how black Americans are treated worse by police. These aren’t the only examples. Head over to Reason or Cato and you can find similar discussions.
Those nonpartisan and needed discussions about police brutality and criminal-justice reform get lost in the din stirred up by situations like Tarantino and the Rise Up rally. It’s unfortunate for all involved.
Law enforcement officers do not deserve to be broadly labeled murderers at worst and accomplices at best, but we do need to examine their relationship with regular citizens. Regular people do not deserve to be viewed as black and white characters from a script, then ignored or treated as hostile enemies when they criticize hyperbolic generalizations.
Hollywood needs to expand its collective imagination to include these truths. As it stands, it may claim to love dialogue, but when the words leave the page we’re reminded that Hollywood would prefer not to actually engage in it.