“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,” Tarantino said, in response to an interview question posed by Krishnan Guru-Murthy regarding the connection between real life violence and violence in film. Fascinating. He’s come unhinged or has he?
Subjugation and Colonialism
Let’s look at the layers of this incident. You’ve got a white Hollywood director pitted against an Indian British reporter. Okay – layer one, Brits against the Americans. Layer two, white against black, even though most Indians don’t self-identify as black, there are still race and cultural relations to consider. So we have two undercurrents of subjugation and colonialism. Layer three, Tarantino flips the tables, in that he’s white and the interviewer is isn’t. But Tarantino is a slave to the Hollywood machine. Right? So he’s subjugated. And with this rant, he gets ratings even if they’re not good. It adds to the discussion in context of violence in America. But, is this just marketing? Hmmm. Has Tarantino said anything of substance regarding violence in film and society?
Some. In an interview for Fresh Air earlier this year, Tarantino said what’s really at issue is gun control and mental health, avoiding making a comment on his role in producing a product that promotes violence. Why wont he admit that there is a connection between big screen violence and the streets? Most likely, profits. But maybe there’s more to it.
Maybe Tarantino is trying to do the right thing. Maybe he could be trying to offer a form of empowerment. Violent fantasy in video games and film allow us to lose our powerlessness. We identify with the anti-hero, the underdog who wins the girl and beats the bad guy. Is he really giving the black man someone to identify with? A new hero paradigm that black males can relate to that doesn’t have to do with bitch slapping women and drug lords? Well, maybe.
Is there a moral imperative to feed the public pablum when it gets unruly? Or is there a moral obligation to give the people what they want? Neither, and both. There’s also artistic integrity to consider, and this film isn’t any different than any of the other updated spaghetti westerns that Tarantino has done.
Of course there is a connection between violent fantasy and reality. What we see, we emulate and quote. Monkey see, monkey do. Not to mention that the mind has no way of telling the difference between what’s real and what’s fantasy in it’s emotional and physiological response to input. Film teaches us about our connection to each other and ourselves. Film teaches us how to handle ourselves and our emotions, and Mr. Tarantino went all Django on Mr. Guru-Murthy’s ass.
That said, of course Mr. Tarantino isn’t going to say that there is an obvious correlation between movie violence and real life violence because he makes his living making violent movies. It wouldn’t be good business. Tarantino makes films that are larger than life, and they boil everything down to a simple good guy vs. bad guy scenario. Although we might want our lives to be that simple, they rarely are. And the connection between art, violence and society is no simpler.
So what has Tarantino said about violence in his films? Check out the Atlantic article: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2013/01/quentin-tarantino-violence-quotes/60900/