Why You Should See Quentin Tarantino Films Several Times

Why You Should See Quentin Tarantino Films Several Times

Why You Should See Quentin Tarantino Films Several Times

Police organizations want you to boycott The Hateful Eight—not because of its content, but because its maker protested against police brutality. Really.

     
Why You Should See Quentin Tarantino Films Several Times
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Quentin Tarantino is an artist. We're not talking the democratized sense of the term, where everyone who paints a watercolor once a year or sings a song at an open mic is an artist, but the highest honorific: That boy's an artist! His command of cinema is complete, his films both vibrant and painstakingly constructed, his scripts clever and funny and full of over-the-top nuance.

That's reason enough to see his film, to study them, even if they're not totally to your taste. But there's another reason, one that is more culturally important at the moment, to support whatever Tarantino puts out there: to fuck the police.

I'm not using the term police here in the generic, all-encompassing sense. Police perform an essential function in our society. We would all love to live in a world where police are superfluous, but ours is far from such a utopia. Policing is a dirty, dangerous job, but someone's absolutely got to do it. Cops who truly protect and serve deserve the utmost respect from the rest of us, along with a lot more money and resources than they get.

But lately you'd have to be living under a rock (or perhaps in North Korea) not to have seen with your own eyes indisputable evidence that not all of the officers on the beat fit the bill. This breach of the public trust is nothing new—in fact, it's been a problem for as long as there has been policing—but now, with a video camera in every pocket, the problem is plain to see.

Unfortunately, as the Department of Justice (DOJ) found recently after studying use-of-force practices at the Albuquerque and Cleveland Police Departments in the wake of officers' killing unarmed persons in each of those cities, this problem appears to be systemic and not just a few bad apples. Even giving the majority of officers the benefit of the doubt, it's clear that racism is endemic to police forces across the country, and that many departments have been unwilling to confront their in-house problems head-on. As Jeff Schweitzer wrote in May, "[T]he extraordinary nature of law enforcement's insular institutional blindness and the triumph of tribalism among police demand more attention."

Even many political conservatives—traditionally "law and order" folk—have come to the same conclusion. "[P]olice misconduct is a systemic problem, not 'a few bad apples,'" Bonnie Kristian wrote last year in The American Conservative. "[…] Police brutality is a pervasive problem, exacerbated by systemic failures to curb it."

A 2000 DOJ report entitled "Police Attitudes: Toward Abuse of Authority" provides a window into why the problem is so pervasive. From a survey of over 900 officers in 121 departments across the U.S., the DOJ found that almost 25% of officers believed it was sometimes acceptable to use more force than is legally allowable, with almost 22% reporting that their fellow officers used more force than was necessary to make an arrest "sometimes, often, or always." Meanwhile, more than half of the officers surveyed reported that "it is not unusual for a police officer to turn a blind eye to improper conduct by other officers," with over 60% admitting that officers do not always report even "serious criminal violations involving abuse of authority"—a not very surprising number considering that 18% of officers stated that the police "code of silence" is "an essential part [of[ good policing," while 25% of officers said "whistle blowing is not worth" the consequences to the whistleblower.

With the possible exception of the White House, no stratum of society has the power to inform and galvanize public opinion like that occupied by celebrities. Nonetheless, surprisingly few of "the beautiful people" will actively wield that power beyond trying to get us to watch their sitcom or buy their perfume. Rocking the boat is not good for corporate sponsorship, and Middle America doesn't go in for muckraking. Besides, life in an ivory tower is pretty far removed from the strife of the inner city—and that's the way (uh-huh uh-huh) they like it (uh-huh uh-huh).

But there is a cast of celebrity that breaks the mold. Long before Woody Harrelson co-executive-produced one of the best seasons in TV history, he was heavily involved in a variety of environmental and civil-rights causes. Angelina Jolie has become almost as well known for her humanitarian endeavors as for her onscreen activities. Bono and Bruce Springsteen gone out of their way to be involved with a dizzying array of good causes over the courses of their individual careers.

Quentin Tarantino is one of the more recent matriculates into this college of celebrities, and his cause of choice is the condemnation of police brutality.

"I'm a human being with a conscience," Tarantino proclaimed at an October 24 rally in New York City protesting police brutality. "And if you believe there's murder going on then you need to rise up and stand up against it. I'm here to say I'm on the side of the murdered."

That sentiment has raised the ire of police organizations across the nation, who are calling on the rest of us to boycott Tarantino films, such as his forthcoming The Hateful Eight.

"It's no surprise that someone who makes a living glorifying crime and violence is a cop-hater, too," said Patrick J. Lynch, president of the NYC Patrolmen's Benevolent Association "The police officers that Quentin Tarantino calls 'murderers' aren't living in one of his depraved big screen fantasies—they're risking and sometimes sacrificing their lives to protect communities from real crime and mayhem. New Yorkers need to send a message to this purveyor of degeneracy that he has no business coming to our city to peddle his slanderous 'Cop Fiction.' It's time for a boycott of Quentin Tarantino's films.”

But as Tarantino told the Los Angeles Times, he never made such sweeping accusations.

"All cops are not murderers," Tarantino said. "I never said that. I never even implied that. What they’re doing is pretty obvious. Instead of dealing with the incidents of police brutality that those people were bringing up, instead of examining the problem of police brutality in this country, better they single me out. And their message is very clear. It’s to shut me down. It’s to discredit me. It is to intimidate me. It is to shut my mouth, and even more important than that, it is to send a message out to any other prominent person that might feel the need to join that side of the argument."

But the police are going even further, taking a step into the realm of intimidation with what the Hollywood Reporter calls "a veiled threat."

"Tarantino has made a good living out of violence and surprise," says Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, which claims over 325,000 active-duty officers as members. "Our officers make a living trying to stop violence, but surprise is not out of the question. […] Something is in the works, but the element of surprise is the most important element, Something could happen anytime between now and [the premiere of The Hateful Eight]."

Pasco seems oblivious to the idea that surprise and causing harm it citizens who speak their minds may not be what a society wants from its police force, apparently feeling justified in such plans by the fact that he is not talking about physically harming Tarantino. "Police officers protect people," Pasco clarified to the Hollywood Reporter. "They don't go out to hurt people."

The irony, of course, is that some police officers do cause unnecessary harm to people, and then actively cover up such behavior, often aided by colleagues and even entire departments.

This is the only police behavior that Quentin Tarantino has spoken out against. It is sadly telling that police across the nation take exception to this, to the point of organizing boycotts and planning additional "surprise[s]" to hurt him. It would be nice if the police felt they had more important things to do—such as weeding out excessive force from its ranks.

Something important you might do is take in some great art in the face of the police action. The Hateful Eight, the eighth film by Quentin Tarantino, opens Christmas Day at theaters everywhere. See you at the movies!

 

Photo by:  Gage Skidmore

 


About the Author:

Except for a four-month sojourn in Comoros (a small island nation near the northwest of Madagascar), Greggory Moore has lived his entire life in Southern California.  Currently he resides in Long Beach, CA, where he engages in a variety of activities, including playing in the band MOVE, performing as a member of RIOTstage, and, of course, writing. 

His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, OC Weekly, Daily Kos, the Long Beach Post, Random Lengths News, The District Weekly, GreaterLongBeach.com, and a variety of academic and literary journals.  HIs first novel, The Use of Regret, was published in 2011, and he is currently at work on his follow-up.  For more information:  greggorymoore.com

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Last Updated : Monday, June 19, 2017