Quentin Tarantino Talks Movie/Violence Connection: Finds It "Annoying" and "Disrespectful"

Famed filmmaker's ire is raised when questioned about whether his love for cinematic violence is too much in the wake of real-life tragedies like Sandy Hook

By Josh Grossberg Jan 04, 2013 6:53 PMTags
Quentin TarantinoAndrew H. Walker/Getty Images, Michelle McLoughlin / Reuters

If you ask Quentin Tarantino (as many in the media have), any suggestion that movie violence played a role in last month's Newtown shootings is prepopsterous.

The director—whose Django Unchained features plenty of killings in the manner of his past bloody works like Reservoir Dogs and Inglourious Basterds—exchanged some heated words on the subject with NPR's Terry Gross during a Wednesday interview on Fresh Air.

When the host asked him whether the massacre of 26 people made his new film "less fun" or whether he "lost his taste" for movie violence following the tragedy, a touchy Tarantino dismissed the question.

"Not for me," Tarantino replied tersely.

The auteur then appeared to take offense to Gross' follow-up when she wondered whether he could separate real-life violence from his feelings about making or watching the sadistic characters he puts on screen.

"Sadistic, I don't know. I think you're putting a judgment on it," Tarantino shot back, clearly perturbed by the question.

He continued: "When you say, 'After the tragedy,' what do you mean by that exactly? Do you mean on that day, would I watch The Wild Bunch?' Maybe not on that day."

"Or in the next few days, like…while it's still really fresh," pressed Gross.

"Would I watch a kung fu movie three days after the Sandy Hook massacre? Would I watch a kung fu movie? Maybe, because they have nothing to do with each other," the 49-year-old helmer said.

"You sound annoyed," noted Gross.

"Yeah, I'm really annoyed," Tarantino acknowledged. "I think it's disrespectful to…the memory of the people who died to talk about the movies. Obviously, the issue is gun control and mental health."

The question of cinema violence and the video store clerk-turned-filmmaker's adoration of it—some critics have accused him of even fetishizing brutality—has been a thorn in Tarantino's side when it comes to the press for two decades now, ever since he burst into pop culture consciousness with his ultra-violent Reservoir Dogs.

"I've been asked this question for 20 years, about the effects of violence in movies related to violence in real life. My answer is the same as 20 years ago. It hasn't changed one iota," he said. "Obviously, I don't think one has to do with the other."

And apparently audiences don't seem to care either, considering that Django Unchained has racked up $82.4 million since hitting theaters on Christmas Day (of all days), even overtaking The Hobbit at Wednesday's box office for the first time.

You can listen to the full Fresh Air interview here.