Quentin Tarantino Says Victims of Police Brutality Are Not Statistics & Murders Have to Stop (Video)
Quentin Tarantino has never been a film director shy of controversy. He has, however, been a steadfast proponent of his creative license and the freedom to use the silver screen to create not only some of the most iconic films of his generation, but also those which ruffle some feathers along the way. Films like Django have drawn ire from critics who tout Tarantino’s use of the N-word as being far too generously sprinkled throughout, and that as a White director, he has no business so freely including such an ugly and racist word in his creations. However, members of his casts (which include actors like Samuel L. Jackson) have often voiced their support, and for many, a filmmaker’s prerogative in creating a story supersedes any notion of inherent racism at the hands of the director. For example, telling an authentic, sobering story about American slavery would not reflect actual history if such a term wasn’t used. And yet, plenty of folks rightfully feel offended when hearing that word, and so Tarantino has often been seen on the defense, something he’s been fighting his entire career. And, with the release of his most recent film, The Hateful Eight (a Western that takes place during the Civil War), those criticisms are once again coming into play.
His being a full-blown racist has not been a criticism that has stuck easily to his reputation, in part because of the overwhelming admiration he has from his actors and fellow Hollywood cohorts, but more so because of his actions outside of the director’s chair. Earlier this year, Tarantino took part in a New York City rally organized in part by the Black Lives Matter movement called Rise Up October, and he has been an outspoken critic of police brutality. In October, Tarantino called police officers involved in the killings of unarmed Black men, women, and children “murderers,” but the timing was something Tarantino would go on to call “unfortunate” (the Rise Up October rally took place just a week after an NYPD officer was killed in the line of duty). As such, there are many who have some questions regarding the consolidation of Tarantino’s strident support for the African-American community with his use of the N-word in his screenplays. Tarantino took to Sway’s Universe to speak on such matters, and he had some bold opinions (unsurprisingly).
Around the 6:17 mark, Sway brings up his own feelings about the film, saying that “If I had one thing that…and this is because I’m Black…is that “nigga” word just cringed me after a while.” Tarantino responded by saying “That’s what time it was back then, ya know, and it’s supposed to be ugly. The dialogue is almost meant to be its own form of violence.” Shortly thereafter, the conversation turns to Samuel L. Jackson’s character, who Sway says he really enjoyed. “I felt in my Black mind that, ‘this is some fucked up times back then.’ And then Sam Jackson’s says ‘Black folks are only safe when White folks are disarmed,'” referring to one of Jackson’s lines of dialogue in the film. “That was important.” Tarantino then makes the contemporary point that “that remains true to this day,” a clear reference to issues facing Black Americans today, like police brutality.
Several minutes later, near the 20:28 mark, Sway brings up the proposed boycott of the new film by the police union, to which Tarantino responds “I think the cops kind of just overreacted and they don’t look so good…as far as I’m concerned, they started it. I have a right to go out and protest what I consider police brutality…you can protest police brutality and not say all cops are bad, but there is a problem in this country with police brutality, and there is a problem with the shooting of unarmed Black and Brown males and there is a problem with institutionalized racism, particularly in law enforcement.” Sway then asks if Tarantino had ever thought about “doing a piece” on that issue, to which the director responds “The thing about it is this: in the last two years, or year or so, it has penetrated the mainstream media, particularly because of the video footage that is being shown. When you just sit on your couch and watch one sickening incident after another, after another, at some point I was starting to think ‘well, you know, well maybe it’s getting so bad that it can change’… but if I’m on my couch, then how am I apart of this change?” As he explains, for him personally, the most important part of that protest was “recognizing the people who died as victims and that they were human beings. They were not statistics.”
Check out the full interview below, which also includes moments of levity and an in-depth discussion about Tarantino’s past and future careers.