Quentin Tarantino has been deemed an extremely controversial filmmaker due to the harsh language in his films and his even more severe blood-lust. His unapologetic approach to making his eight, violent, and ground-breaking movies has landed him into many a quarrel. Alongside an insanely dedicated fan-base, and average unaffected movie-goers, there’s also an army of those who find his work repulsive and offensive. I, for the record, am far from one of them. Quentin Tarantino has changed our expectations of cinema in the 21st century as well as challenged us to consider our own sense of morality through his work. On top of this, Quentin is also a quirky, aggressive, and influential writer/director in Hollywood, who isn’t afraid to voice his opinions and tell us how he sees things. Here are 15 moments Quentin’s well-intentioned vigor has landed him in a pot of boiling water…
15. Quentin And The Police Unions
It’s okay not to like everything everyone says. That’s why we live in a democracy; you have the right to express your opinion and others have the right to tell you they think you’re full of it. This is why I was furious when Quentin received intense backlash for his comments about police brutality. Like many, Quentin watched as person after person (usually unarmed, young African American males) was gunned down unjustly by police officers all over the United States. Thinking that remaining silent added to the problem, Quentin spoke up and called a dime and dime; he went after the systemic racism that exists in many areas of law enforcement and even marched with Rise Up October. Police Unions were furious and through the media, spun his comments to make him sound like he was calling all law enforcement officers murderers, when he was in fact calling out the individuals who shot down all those young men. Even though Quentin tried to explain himself (though he shouldn’t have had to), the Unions called for mass boycotts of The Hateful Eight. What made Quentin furious was that all this controversy took away from the vital issue he had spoken out about.
14. Quentin Takes On Disney
This one took balls. There’s no doubt that the Disney corporation is one of the most profitable and powerful companies in the world. They are not to be trifled with. But on The Howard Stern Show in September 2015, Quentin did just that. He hesitantly told Howard that he was angry with Disney execs for trying to push out The Hateful Eight from the famous Los Angeles’ Cinerama Dome to be able to show Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Hateful Eight was to show in 70mm for two weeks after a two week run of the seventh instalment of the Star Wars franchise. Disney allegedly wanted to continue showing their mega-hit in the theater so badly that they threatened ArcLight (the company that owns the Dome) that they’d pull Star Wars from all of their American theaters if they honoured their previous agreement with The Hateful Eight. Since this would have been a crucial loss in revenue, ArcLight had no choice but to breach contract. To this day, Disney has not been held accountable for, to quote Quentin, “their extortionist practises”.
13. Quentin The Racist?
Well, of course he’s not. It’s clear to most people that Quentin Tarantino is not a racist though he’s constantly attacked for the use of the N-word in his movies. Unsurprisingly, filmmaker Spike Lee tends to lead the charge against Quentin. Samuel L. Jackson (a Tarantino and Spike Lee regular) doesn’t seem to think there’s a problem. He told Charlie Rose that it’s “impossible” for Quentin to be a racist because a racist wouldn’t have written so many dynamic, intelligent, and bad-ass African American characters. This is certainly true of all of Sam’s roles. And though he does use the N-word cavalierly, Sam defends that it’s always used to pay homage to the environment the movie/scene is set in. As Sam Jackson said to movie-critic Peter Travers about the use of that word in Django, “There’s only so many descriptive words for Black people that they used during that time”. As Sam stated, culture has dictated to us that it’s okay to use that word in musical context, but never in movies. You can’t have it both ways.
12. Quentin Making a Mockery of Slavery
So, yeah, Spike Lee in particular is a harsh critic of Quentin’s films, especially Django Unchained. Spike, without even seeing the film, blasted Tarantino for desecrating the struggle of African Americans during the era of slavery. He, along with others, believe that Tarantino made a mockery of slavery, which was the opposite of the filmmaker’s intent. Quentin was keen on reimagining this time period, the way he did with WW2 in Inglorious Bastards, to be able to give Black Americans a Western hero of their own. If you’ve actually seen Django Unchained, you’d see that Jamie Foxx’s Django is more than badass, carrying out ruthless and bloody revenge on the white men that have enslaved his wife. It is indeed the same sort of approach as Bastards, which had Jewish Soldiers and Holocaust survivors shooting-up Adolf Hitler and burning a bunch of Nazis alive in a movie theater, a scene that had me (a young Jew) jumping up in absolute ecstasy.
11. Quentin Tackling American Race Issues
No matter how many people of colour have come to Tarantino’s defense, he still seems to cause controversy when it comes to tackling any race issues in his movies. When asked about this by Dan Rather, Quentin explained that he’s always had a vast interest in race in America and how Blacks and Whites have interacted with one another over the last hundred years. In a lot of his movies he keeps going back to this theme because he finds that it’s largely ignored in Hollywood films. Quentin has found a unique, albeit controversial, way of exploring an issue that’s near and dear to him. He has been given a strong voice in the industry, and he uses it. He likes corrupting audiences and challenging their thoughts and feelings. He wants to show you something that will cause you to question your own version of morality. This is what a true artist does, they want to create something that’s divisive, that’s worthy of discussion. The very fact that he’s received so much resentment for his creative choices is a good thing. It gets people talking. It causes us to think.
10. Quentin’s Violence, Violence, Violence
Quentin Tarantino did not invent violence in the movies. He simply capitalized on it and made it an attribute of his very specific style of filmmaking. But still, this is the controversy that he faces most consistently. In every single one of his films, violence features prominently, and because of this he’s become a divisive artist. He’s unapologetic about chopping someone’s head off, or riddling a body with bullets until there’s nothing but chunks of wet, sticky flesh left. Quentin Tarantino responds to violent movies. Because of this he routinely faces the opinion that he’s influencing many of his young fans to adore violence and carry it into their daily lives. The only thing is, Quentin abhors acts of cruelty. He actively stands up against it in his real life; but he can still separate reality from fiction and enjoy it when falling into the tender hands of a great story. He doesn’t justify violence morally, he just finds it entertaining. Japan has some of the most violent anime, movies, and novels on the planet and yet is currently one of the most peaceful nations.
9. Quentin Takes On A Movie Critic
Oh boy, this one got heated real fast. Tarantino joined San Francisco movie critic, Jan Wahl (famous for her ridiculous hats), to speak about the release of Kill Bill: Volume One. As she introduced Quentin, it was clear that she was on the offense, insinuating that she thought his work was all style over substance. Once he got on air, she made some passive-aggressive jokes about his looks, which he quickly reversed on her. Jan then immediately launched in on Quentin about how she couldn’t understand his statements about wanting young girls to see his film. He claimed that they would feel empowered by the kick-ass, violent female characters. Then Quentin’s patience began to dwindle as Jan jabbed him about his role of influencing young people to adore violence. Honestly, this is something that has to be witnessed. The arc of the passive-aggressive nature becoming outright nasty is astounding, and eventually led to Quentin’s feed getting cut.
8. Quentin Is The Movie Critic
One thing that I love about Quentin Tarantino is that he’s a movie fan. He’s not one of those filmmakers who indulgently make products for mass consumption. He aims to create art that will be enjoyed for decades to come. Part of achieving that goal is devouring what your competition is doing. Quentin has never been shy about sharing his opinions of other people’s work. When he’s a fan, he’s a major fan, and when he’s not, he can be lethal. The man spent his formative years working at a BlockBuster and binging every bit of cinema he could get his hands on; rightfully so, he’s built opinions. Tarantino was thrown some shade when he expressed his love for David O’Russell’s films to Vulture, claiming that O’Russell’s The Fighter and American Hustle were far more memorable than their Oscar competitors, The Town, An Education, and The Kids Are All Right. He then went after a cinema icon stating, “Half of these Cate Blanchett movies – they’re all just these arty things. I’m not saying they’re bad movies, but I don’t think most of them have a shelf life”. To her credit, Cate Blanchett responded to the criticism with grace and dignity.
7. Quentin Takes On A Journalist
While doing the press tour for Django Unchained, Quentin visited Channel 4 News’ Krishnan Guru-Murthy who asked him about why violence is a centerpiece of his films; a question as original as a Transformers sequel. Tarantino explained that he thinks it makes entertaining cinema, and that in Django there’s two types of violence; the first being the day-to-day brutality that the slaves face at the hands of their masters, and then there’s also the cathartic violence when the slaves exact their revenge. Krishnan pushed Quentin further, questioning the morality of one enjoying violence in a movie, to which Quentin answered, “it’s a movie, it’s a fantasy. It’s not real life”. Things got heated after Krishnan insinuated that there was a link between two which put Tarantino on the defensive, refusing to answer the question he believed to have addressed countless times. This wasn’t good enough for the journalist who continued to push against Tarantino. Guru-Murthy clearly came in with a set agenda and wasn’t going to let the filmmaker off the hook until he received an answer that satisfied him. The cross-examination didn’t work as Tarantino stood his ground until the end of the interview. The clip received even more attention two years later when Krishnan agitated Robert Downey Jr. so much that Downey walked out. Both Tarantino and Downey have since spoken out about the journalist.
6. Quentin’s Script Is Leaked
Tarantino got a little taste of the digital age when his script for The Hateful Eight was leaked on Gawker in 2014. A lawsuit was filed against Gawker that was later dropped by Tarantino for unknown reasons. The script was eventually re-written and shot. As for who sent the script to Gawker, Tarantino claims to have only sent the early draft to three people, Tim Roth, Bruce Dern, and Michael Madsen (all of whom ended up starring in the final version). Immediately, Quentin told the press that there was no way that Tim Roth could have been responsible for the leak, which in turn incriminated Bruce, Michael, and their representation, who also would have access to the script. Thinking his father was the culprit, Michael Madsen’s son phoned him up to berate his father. To this day, all actors and their agents plead innocent. This is just one of those mysteries we’ll never solve.
5. Quentin Casting “Whores”
While casting The Hateful Eight, Quentin caught live-fire after his company posted an ad looking for young women to play prostitutes, or “whores” according to the posting. Feminist groups objected to the word-choice and stated that it was a typical example of Hollywood sexism. The ad requested that interested parties send-in their photos and dress-sizes, which is very standard practice in Hollywood, and to write “whore” in the subject-line of their email. In response to the backlash, Quentin ordered that the advertisement be taken down and replaced with one that was more socially acceptable. While I can certainly understand the casting team wanting to be as efficient and organized with the cattle-calls, the word choice here was really insensitive and speaks to a larger issue within Hollywood.
4. Quentin’s Hateful Towards Women?
Among all the controversies leveled at The Hateful Eight, this one was actually about the contents of the film. Many claimed that the lone lead female character of the movie, Daisy Domergue (a vicious murderer played by Jennifer Jason-Leigh), is given no voice and is only present to be the subject of routine beatings from her male captors. Mega-producer Harvey Weinstein came to Tarantino’s aide, telling Variety that, “This guy is the most pro-woman ever”. He cited the dynamic leading female characters in the Kill Bill movies, Jackie Brown, and in Inglorious Bastards. Counter-arguments were made that all of these strong female characters are threatened, beaten, or in danger in all of his movies, to which Quentin (and anyone with a brain) said that’s true of ALL of his characters, men and women. No matter their sex or ethnicity, all of Quentin Tarantino’s characters face the same certainty as each and every one of us… somehow, someway, we will die.
3. Quentin’s Use Of “Ghetto”
Quentin’s Django Unchained star Jamie Foxx made sure to remind his former director to check his privilege after Tarantino used a word he perhaps shouldn’t have. While accepting a Golden Globe for his Hateful Eight composer, Ennio Morricone, Tarantino praised his colleague for being his “favourite composer” of all time, and not just in “that ghetto” of movie composers. The audience clearly picked up on what Tarantino didn’t, as they uncomfortably groaned while he continued to rave about the Italian composer who he said had won his first Golden Globe under the director’s hand. Just to go on a slight tangent, Tarantino was mistaken, Ennio had actually won two Golden Globes prior to his win for The Hateful Eight. Anyway, once Quentin trotted off the stage, Foxx, who was presenting, approached the microphone. He leaned in and simply but sternly uttered, “Ghetto?”
2. Quentin’s Foot Fetish
This one isn’t so much a controversy but an alleged fetish. Honestly, I don’t know how “alleged” this is based on how many times women’s feet have been featured so prominently in some of Quentin’s most famous scenes. He shoots them as one would shoot the naked body of the most gorgeous woman on earth. There’s something so sultry and perfect to his composition. There’s almost a glow radiating from each toe. Whether it’s Bridget Fonda’s toe-rings in Jackie Brown, or Uma Thurman being introduced to John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, or… Uma Thurman trying to wiggle her big toe in Kill Bill Volume 2, Quentin does seem to be foot obsessed. Though he refuses to speak about it in interviews, many have suspected the auteur to have a bit of a lust, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
1. Quentin’s Foot Print
One of the many honours one could receive after a long Hollywood career is getting your hands and feet imprinted in cement for display outside of the historic TCL Chinese Theater. At the beginning of 2016, the Chinese Theater decided to honour Quentin who, like every celebrity, decided to make his cement block his own. The press was shocked to see that the soles of Quentin’s shoes had left the words “F**K U” in the cement. This wasn’t just a cheeky jab at the system, but also a reference to the famous shoes worn by Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill movies. So, not only did he permanently leave every 12 year old’s dream in front of the most historic movie theater in the world, but he also did his hard-core fans a solid.