Quentin Tarantino is not a man to to be trifled with. Hot on the heels of a recent testy encounter with NPR’s Fresh Air host, Terry Gross, the director has chewed out yet another interviewer over the subject of whether movie violence affects real life violence.
And it wasn’t pretty.
On the day that Tarantino’s latest film, Django Unchained — which features scenes of violence in line with its slavery theme — was nominated for five Oscars including best picture and best supporting actor, British TV broadcaster Channel 4, released a recent interview with Tarantino that makes for alternately awkward and comical viewing.
Having said that,The Inquisitr acknowledges that the interview comes in the midst of an ongoing gun control debate in Washington, and after the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 27 people were murdered — 20 of them young children.
So, to the interview.
The setting was Channel 4’s self-titled news program, the host was heavyweight journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy. The topic was Tarantino’s film Django which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, and Kerry Washington.
The discussion began amicably enough.
Murthy congratulated Tarantino on his film and asked why he wanted to make a movie about slavery. The director replied that he’d always wanted to address slavery because he wanted to “give black American males a western hero, give them a cool folkloric hero that could actually be empowering and actually pay back blood for blood.”
Asked if the “revenge bit” was essential to making a hero. Tarantino said:
“In the case of laying waste to a genocidal, white racist class and the institution of slavery, yes that would be a reason to do it as opposed to just a historical story.”
A fair bit of the interview then focused on Tarantino’s view that he “couldn’t be happier” about the fact that a public “dialogue” about slavery was now happening. He added:
“I am responsible for people talking about slavery in America in way that they have not in 30 years.”
The mood turned slightly testy when Murthy said, “but you must care very deeply that this doesn’t become a film that stands out from your body of work, as one that is trashed by more people …”
At this point Tarantino interrupted, refuting Murthy’s point, saying “it’s not trashed by more people, what you’re saying is not correct, it’s not trashed by more people.”
Switching tack, Murthy asked Tarantino why he liked violent movies. In reply, Tarantino said, “I don’t know … it’s like asking Judd Apatow ‘why do you like making comedies?'”
Murthy shot back as a question, “you just get a kick out of it and you just enjoy it?”
Tarantino said, “I think it’s good cinema. I consider it good cinema .. you sit there in a movie theater when these violent, cathartic scenes happen.” Seconds later, he added that in Django:
“I’m showing you that there [were] two holocausts in America — this is one of them. We’ve dealt with the [American] Indian holocaust … but we haven’t been dealing with the holocaustic aspects, the Auschwitzian aspects of the slave trade in America. My movie deals with that. Then there’s cathartic violence of Django paying back blood for blood.”
Murthy then asked the 49-year-old if he thought that was why people enjoyed watching violent movies, specifically “not violent” or “twisted people.”
Shrugging, Tarantino replied, “Yeah, well, it’s a movie. It’s a fantasy, it’s a fantasy, it’s not real life, it’s a fantasy. “
Then, at 04:27 minutes in came the question that summoned the director’s red mist.
“But why are you so sure,” Murthy began, “that there’s no link between enjoying movie violence and enjoying real violence?”
“I don’t … why I’m going to tell you why I’m so sure, dude don’t ask me a question like that … I’m not biting, I refuse your question!” Tarantino blistered.
A quiet “why?” from Murthy released Tarantino’s full kraken. “Because I refuse your question,” he stormed. “I’m not your slave and you’re not my master. You can’t make me dance to your tune, I’m not a monkey!”
Murthy protested that he was just asking questions. Then, brought up a previous quote from Foxx (the titular Django in the movie) — who said Hollywood couldn’t turn its back on the debate about violence in films and their real world effect.
Murthy barely got the words out before Tarantino interrupted, firing, “then you should talk to Jamie Foxx about that and I think he’s actually here, so you can.”
Murthy insisted he simply wanted to explore the topic, but Tarantino was having none of it.
“And I don’t want to,” he said. When asked why, he continued,”because I’m here to sell my movie. This [gesturing to the interview set] is a commercial for the movie, make no mistake.”
Murthy’s response: “So you don’t want to talk about anything serious?”
Piqued, Tarantino replied, “I don’t want to talk about what you want to talk about … the reason I don’t want to talk about it is because I’ve said everything I have to say about it. If anyone cares what I have to say about it, they can google me and they can look for 20 years [of] what I have to say … I haven’t changed my opinion one iota.”
Murthy pressed, saying, “No, but you haven’t fleshed it out.”
Tarantino: “It’s not my job to flesh it out!”
Murthy: “No, it’s my job to try and ask you some …”
Then, Tarantino delivered his money shot, “And I’m shutting your butt down!”
Seconds later Tarantino said he didn’t want to repeat himself on a subject he was already on record for. Perhaps realizing this was ‘good TV,’ Murthy persisted, until the director eventually said:
“It’s none of your damn business what I think about that [movie violence on real violence debate] … I’m shutting you down.”
Riled, Tarantino told Murthy that he refused to repeat himself “over and over again” when he’s explained his thoughts on the subject many times before “just because you want me to, for you and your show and your ratings.”
In the last part of the interview, Murthy referred the director to remarks he made in Playboy about directors getting worse [as filmmakers] as they got older, and asked Tarantino if he thought he himself was getting better or worse.
“I think I’m still in the sweet spot,” Tarantino replied with a laugh. “Well I hope, that’s up to everyone to decide, am I?”
Murthy told him he personally enjoyed his movies. Softening somewhat, the Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill auteur added:
“Directors are like boxers, they have their time. Hopefully, I’m on the right side of my time alright, but at a certain point a boxer loses it … it’s all about knowing when to hang up the gloves, or in my case — the megaphone.”
Watch the full interview below and sound off on whether you think Tarantino made a good case for himself or whether you think he should have answered the questions civilly — record or no record?