Tarantego

Regardless of all the hoo-ha surrounding Django Unchained, I’m very excited to see it. Unlike, it seems, a lot of its critics, who have angrily condemned it without having watched it. Now this is ridiculous, as a lot of people have pointed out. You cannot, cannot, judge a work of art without having seen it. To judge a film from the trailer, from other people’s reactions, from summaries, or even from reading the script, is absurd and presumptuous.

Now, it may be that in the case of Spike Lee, he is subscribing (as he often does) to identity politics – that be the very fact of Tarantino not being black, he’s not allowed to comment on slavery or offer his version of history. This is, in my opinion, ridiculous. It’s like when men get shut out of the feminist debate entirely. The result you get from the genetic lottery, whether absurdly lucky (like Tarantino, or me) or horribly unfair, should never determine what you can talk about. To restrict discussions to certain communities, and not openly debating controversies and difficult issues, does a huge amount of harm to education, free thought, and free expression. So when Spike Lee tries to keep all discussions over slavery to the African American community, he is doing his cause a great disservice.

To this extent, Tarantino is right when he told Channel 4 News this week that he was creating a useful and open debate – that has to be a good thing.

What is less good is his rampant egoism and tone, which almost sounds like, ‘You’re welcome, black people.’

It’s the same with the debate over movie violence. I understand that he’s sick of facing these questions, but it’s a fact of the publicity tour that you have to spout certain lines repeatedly, and revisit old ground endlessly. To refuse KGM’s questions isn’t only somewhat discourteous, it makes it seem as if QT has no defence for movie violence. Worse still, it again shuts down debate, just as Spike Lee has tried to do over the slavery issue. Tarantino shouldn’t assume that he is right, and he should really be willing to engage in the debate. Either that, or he could have excused himself from it by asserting his right not to have to explain his work – that’s a legitimate artistic defence. But instead, he comes across as petulant and egotistical for not having this ‘commercial’ go his way.

Plus, he’s beginning to look eerily like Richard Kiel.

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