Tarantino dresses up violence, but violence it is

Share

Quentin Tarantino is a brilliant name for a movie director. "Quentin" sounds a bit cardigan-and-slippers. Then it whams you in the gut – a bit like his films – with a fiery Italian surname. "Tarantino" makes me think of hairy spiders and a manic dance called the tarantella, which gets its name from their bite. I know its actual meaning is prosaic, suggesting his father's family has links with Taranto in southern Italy. (So does the spider.) But that turns out to be rather a good metaphor: both his name and his films promise more than they deliver.

Anyway, the director was in London last week, for the premiere of his new movie, when he suffered a meltdown on Channel 4 News. It's a gem: during an interview with the mild-mannered Krishnan Guru-Murthy, who asked him about possible links between on- and off-screen violence, Tarantino started waving his arms and told the presenter he was "shutting your butt down". (He also insisted "I'm not biting", which sounded like, but probably wasn't intended as, a witty reference to his surname.) I was surprised to hear Tarantino tell Guru-Murthy that he wasn't his slave but, then, slavery is the theme of Django Unchained, which he was in the UK to publicise. "I'm here to sell my movie," he gabbled. "This is a commercial for the movie, make no mistake."

It wasn't, actually, and I already had doubts about going to see the film after watching the trailer. (Leonardo DiCaprio, what are you doing in this "ironic" revenge drama where characters joke over toppling corpses?) Now I'm sure I need never go to another film made by this unappealing egomaniac. Extreme violence has been Tarantino's leitmotif since Reservoir Dogs, and he must have expected it to come up in the wake of the Sandy Hook and Aurora mass shootings. The US Vice-President, Joe Biden, invited representatives of the film industry to talks in Washington about gun violence last week.

My own view is that the effect of screen violence in real life isn't an open-and-shut case. I don't think there's a provable direct link, except in the case of a few deranged individuals, but it does have a desensitising effect. I squirmed through Reservoir Dogs, hating its conflation of violence and cool, but I was even more disturbed to hear people around me laughing during the notorious torture scene. Fans of Tarantino's films tend to describe them as amoral, which seems to me a way of letting him off the hook.

I've always believed he hides behind genre, using its conventions as a cover for scenes of sickening brutality. When he does attempt a moral framework, it usually turns into a revenge fantasy. (Note to critics: female characters beating and kicking a man to death isn't feminism.) I know he won an Oscar for the screenplay of Pulp Fiction but that was a long time ago. Thanks to Channel 4 News, the cat's out of the bag: Quentin Tarantino is 49 going on 14.

www.politicalblonde.com; twitter.com/@polblonde

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Renewable Energy Construction Manager

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Modern housing is not fit for purpose. It’s eroding our privacy, and suffocating the life out of Britain

Janet Street-Porter
 

A woman’s power is in her laughter – no wonder men are scared enough they want to silence it

Howard Jacobson
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices