I’ve nothing unusual to say about the hostile, dismissive tone in Quentin Tarantino‘s responses to Channel Four’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy in London yesterday. On one level I admire QT’s eat-my-ass attitude. But I’m still sick of excessive style-violence — the lurid carnage that guys like Tarantino use to elicit smirks in the name of heh-heh irony — which I believe is boring and tedious because it’s merely extreme, like someone yelling as loudly as they can or a dog that won’t stop barking.
In his ongoing quest to re-vitalize grindhouse cinema for the aughts, Tarantino has made himself into a self-regarding “exploitation filmmaker” (i.e., ironically, not really, winking) who has made Django Unchained because slavery gives him license to wail on Southern racist swine with absolute moral authority. I believe in justice and payback, but there’s a difference between that and feasting on revenge like some lowlife glutton devouring chili fries. And I’m just sick of it.
Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Let me ask you about violence. You said, you know, everyone knows you make violent movies, you like violent movies. Why do you like making violent movies?
Quentin Tarantino: Uhm… I don’t know. It’s like asking Judd Apatow, “Why do you like making comedies?”
KGM: You just get a kick out of it? Or you just enjoy it? Or…
QT: It’s… It’s… It’s a… I think… I think it’s good cinema. I consider it good cinema. You know, it’s… You sit there in a movie theatre when these cathartic, violent scenes happen… I’m talking about the cathartic violence scenes. Then there’s the cathartic violence of Django paying back blood for blood.
KGM: Is that why you think people like watching violent movies – people who are not violent people or twisted people in any way, but why it’s OK to go into a movie and enjoy the violence?
QT: Yeah, well, it’s a movie. It’s a fantasy. It’s a fantasy – it’s not real life. It’s a fantasy. You go and you watch. You know, you watch a kung-fu movie and one guy takes on 100 people in a restaurant. That’s fun!
KGM: But why are you so sure that there’s no link between enjoying movie violence and enjoying real violence?
QT: I don’t…I’m going to tell you why I’m so sure? Don’t ask me a question like that – I’m not biting. I refuse your question.
QT: Because I refuse your question. 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.
KGM: I can’t make you answer anything. I’m asking you interesting questions.
QT: And I’m saying… and I’m saying I refuse.
KGM: OK. I was just asking you why. That’s fine. But you see, Jamie Foxx has said: “We can’t turn our back and say that violence in films, that anything that we do…”
QT: Then you should talk to Jamie Foxx about that. And I think he’s actually here, so you can!
KGM: I’d love to, but, I mean, you know… It’s interesting that you have a different view, and I’m just trying to explore that.
QT: And I don’t want to! ‘Cause I’m here to sell my movie. This is a commercial for the movie – make no mistake.
KGM: So you don’t want to talk about anything serious?
QT: I don’t want to talk about what you want to talk about. I don’t want to talk about the implications of violence. I haven’t wanted… because… The reason I don’t want to talk about it: 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 what I have to say. But I haven’t changed my opinion one iota.
KGM: No, but you haven’t fleshed it out.
QT: It’s not my job to flesh it out.
KGM: No, it’s my job to try and ask you to.
QT: And I’m shutting your butt down!