Does Quentin Tarantino Hate Women and Minorities?

It must be nice to have the time to jump on board every “controversy” surrounding any movie that doesn’t completely affirm your personal worldview.

From MSNBC.com:

Quentin Tarantino’s new film “The Hateful Eight” had its detractors before it was even released. Many filmgoers and critics took issue with his commitment to the copious use of the N-word in his screenplay (which was leaked early) and police unions around the country planned to boycott the film because of the director’s recent controversial comments on alleged acts of brutality at the hands of law enforcement.

Now that audiences are finally getting to watch the director’s roughly three-hour epic western, critics are leveling a new charge at the provocative auteur — sexism.

Webster’s online dictionary defines “misogyny” as: “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.” According to online busybodies, “misogyny” now means: “Whatever Quentin Tarantino puts in his interesting movies.”

I have seen The Hateful Eight and I can tell you that if your main takeaway from this nearly three-hour period piece is that Tarantino hates minorities and women, you’re doing it wrong.

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The Hateful Eight, like Django Unchained before it, is an ultra-violent, profane, and unique exploration of America’s Civil War Era past. A ferocious snowstorm has trapped eight menacing strangers in a stagecoach lodge located in the mountains of Wyoming for two days. Everything is not as it seems and the primary focus of everyone’s attention is the presence of a bounty hunter (Kurt Russell) with his bounty (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in tow. Tempers flare, secrets are revealed, and a lot of blood is shed as the motley crew “sorts some stuff out” over the course of 167 tense minutes.

As far as a review goes, all I will say is that this film is NOT for everyone, especially kids, teens, and those squeamish about seeing lots of blood (also, if you are trying to decide between The Hateful Eight and The Revenant—see The Revenant!)

But The Hateful Eight is a good movie that doesn’t deserve to be raked over the PC coals.

Modern critics seem unable (or unwilling) to put themselves into an historical world that a director has created unless it is a film that is explicitly (if not exclusively) about how badly rich, white people have acted in the past. Or movies that depict all characters that happen to be minorities or females as the best, smartest, most noble people who have ever walked the earth. Increasingly, the message seems to be:  Don’t allow for nuance. Avoid complexity or accuracy. Focus on what will make Oprah nod with approval.

The Hateful Eight is a Western, set in the America of the 1870’s, when life was often lawless and brutal. Women could not vote. Slavery had only recently been abolished.   The only trigger warnings people worried about were the ones coming from someone else’s gun. Quentin Tarantino is purposely taking his audience into that landscape and time period for a reason. So why are critics—even respected ones like A.O. Scott at the New York Times—crying “misogyny” and “racism” rather than making a good faith effort to understand the film? By these standards, we should no longer read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or the Bible, or the Quran, lest we be “triggered” by what we find there. Say goodbye to politically incorrect films such as Gone With the Wind (it portrays slave-owners) and Lawrence of Arabia (it depicts Muslim tribesmen as engaging in blood feuds and scavenging).

The predictable lameness of such politically correct pop culture whining isn’t new, but isn’t it time we stopped indulging it? As a lover of movies, I’m offended that we can no longer just watch a movie and appreciate the journey a director and his actors are taking us on. This ability to momentarily escape from mundane concerns and suspend reality is precisely why film is such a powerful medium. Let’s not turn movies into narrow and uninspiring vehicles for delivering politically correct messages.

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  • Christian Coopersmith

    I agree that it doesn’t make much sense to dislike this film because of “sexism” or “racism.”

    It makes much more sense to dislike it because it is incredibly tedious; the script and the dialog are so bad that the viewer is constantly taken out of this unbelievably artificial film and reminded that he or she is just watching, e.g., Samuel L. Jackson act (if you can call it that); that the viewer’s interest in the film is deadened early on by the feeling that he or she has seen it all before; and the palpable feeling induced in the viewer that the director’s goal is to entertain himself and annoy or bore everyone else.

    The sexism and racism, or what leads to those descriptions, is simply there to burnish Tarantino’s bona fides as cutting-edge bad boy. In truth, he’s got nothing left to say and keeps doing the same film over and over again.

    • harkin

      Totally agree – Tarantino’s post-Jackie Brown revenge porn repetition schtick got boring fast. His films have always been shallow faux cool but they’ve gotten even more tedious. Shouting and gore is not in and of themselves compelling.

      • Johnathan Swift Jr.

        Because QT began making films after a number of years of working at a video store, sleeping on a friend’s couch and watching videos all night, he never lived a life, experienced real life, as many of the great early writers and filmmakers did. He hadn’t been anywhere or done anything.

        Thus, his entire cinematic vocabulary was not great literature or real life, but other films, so his films have always been derivative. He did make some good films, Jackie Brown being one of them. But, when you are essentially working to tackle a genre each time, with script than consists of scenes borrowed from cool films, the resulting pastiche can only be made “fresh” in his view by the constant repetition of the dreaded n-word – which Mr. Jackson should be paid for by the word – and endless gore.

        When a filmmaker has to ladle on the blood by the cubic yard, and include a massive body count, it means that the script and character development is weak, not strong.

        • Christian Coopersmith

          More and more I have the feeling that the cheap and easy way to be a “serious” director is to make a film that baits and attacks the audience, and if anyone objects they’re just too dumb to get it. It’s not just Tarantino. Take Revenant. Once the first half hour passes and you numbly agree that, yes, the cinematography is really good, you realize you’re watching an ugly film about ugly people doing ugly things; you don’t give a damn about any of them, and I should have gotten an aisle seat.

          At the other pole I’d put the Coens, who still, most of the time, turn out engaging films filled with actual clever stuff, fascinating resonances and ambiguities, subtle touches and engaging ideas — you know, entertainment. There are some good things going on on cable. But I can’t think of too any other examples though.

          • Johnathan Swift Jr.

            Well said. This is why I seldom go to the movies these days and watch almost exclusively films made in the 1930s and then silent films from time to time.

            There are a number of films that I watch again and again, especially some of the Preston Sturges comedies and some of the Howard Hawks comedies. Sturges burnt himself out, but he made six or eight of the greatest screen comedies. I just watched Sullivan’s Travels last night, which even today should be required viewing for every pretentious film star and director, but they would probably fail to see themselves in it. The Lady Eve was wonderful as well.

            Now, the Cohen brothers are fans of Sturges and you can see that with the title of “Oh Brother…” which is the title of the pretentious film that Sullivan wants to make in Sullivan’s travels. They get too graphic in my view, but they are always interesting and quite inventive.

            Life can of course be bleak, but rarely is it all bleak. I have spent a lot of time throughput the American West and have a large library of books on its history, especially first person accounts when I can find them. Siringo, Teddy Blue Abbott, Rip Ford. And, they liked to laugh, to enjoy their hard lives. My uncles had very hard childhoods with a lot of responsibility in the 1920s and 1930s, with the older one doing a man’s work from the time he was seven or eight, but he still loved to laugh about things that happened with horses and cattle and pet goats sixty years later.

            Comedies today rely on puking, belching, and passing gas, which means the writers are devoid of cleverness or perhaps the filmmakers. When you go back to a script by Billy Wilder or Ben Hecht or Charlie MaCarthur or Sampson Raphaelson or Robert Riskin, they are all clever, full of snappy dialogue, great gags. And Frances Marion was a genius as was Anita Loos. Wilders films and scripts were full of both humor and bittersweet moments. I also love Lubitsch. Ninotchka was the greatest send up of communism ever and all in comedy, line after line of pure gold. “Comrade, we’ll have fewer communists, but better communists.” And Trouble in Paradise is another wonderful film, Lubitsch’s favorite apparently of all the films he did. Herbert Marshall and Miriam Hopkins. Poor Marshall lost his leg above the knee in the Great War, but you would never know it. He was a tough man,

            It’s a great medium, but you are so right in that you need to have characters you care about. This is what Irving Thalbeg always emphasized to his writers and directors, that you had to take the audience along with you, or at least to explain why a character was the way he was.

  • Inajeep

    Interesting that the most politically correct people in the world Democrats / Hollywood and use the PC sword against any perceived wrong demand that no PC be used against them; Tarantino, Seth McFarland, Hillary Clinton, etc.

  • jim

    Are you aware that a lot of people major in this stuff in college nowadays?

    What else are they going to write about? More importantly, it’s what their audience wants to hear. Clicks count.

  • Vizzini

    The Hateful Eight is a Western, set in the America of the 1870’s, when life was often lawless and brutal. Women could not vote. Slavery had only recently been abolished. The only trigger warnings people worried about were the ones coming from someone else’s gun.

    Tarantino’s “old West” is as fictional as an old Roy Rogers pic, and just as unrealistic, but in the opposite direction.

  • kishkeyum

    But The Hateful Eight is a good movie that doesn’t deserve to be raked over the PC coals.

    Why not? Give that putz Tarantino a taste of his own medicine. Guy makes the dumbest movies, anyhow.

  • Fred

    Um, in Wyoming in the 1870s, women could vote.

    • Kevin_OKeeffe

      Not in Federal elections, however. So they couldn’t vote to elect Wyoming’s Territorial Representative to the U.S. House of Representatives. Not that I really care; I’m not sure women SHOULD have the power to vote. But I am a history buff, LOL.

  • dayman

    Is the author interested in letting in letting us in on his understanding of the film and how it’s not racist or sexist, or is the argument just that It’s More Fun to Not Think About It?? I agree that nuance is important, and that just because a character is racist in a movie doesn’t mean the movie has a racist message, etc. But messages are a big part of why we enjoy movies (or not), plus it’s just interesting to talk about. This article is not anti-PC pro-art, it’s just anti-argument and anti-critical thinking.