Quentin Tarantino is one of the great living filmmakers. There’s no doubt about it. He’s also passionate and opinionated, something he’s never shied away from in the past. But recently there’s been a wave of controversy over his attending and speaking at a New York rally against police brutality. The police unions for New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and now New Jersey are calling for a boycott of Tarantino’s films. Even Tarantino’s estranged father, who left Quentin and his mother at a young age, has come out of the woodwork to criticize his sons statements.
At the rally, Tarantino was one of several speakers, including individuals and families affected by police violence. The filmmaker commented:
“I have to call a murder a murder, and I have to call the murderers murderers.”
In response, state officials like Pat Colligan, president of the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, are calling Tarantino irresponsible.
“Quentin Tarantino needs to understand that as a public figure his voice is one that people listen to… He has an obligation to be more responsible. This is not a movie, this is real life where police officers lives are impacted by his words.”
I find statements such as this to be frightfully hypocritical. Sure, Tarantino might have some responsibility as a popular public figure, but don’t our police officers who have sworn to protect us have an obligation as well? Should they not be taking responsibility for their own misdeeds? We’ve bared witness a wave of police brutality cases in recent years, but few officers are ever punished for such crimes. Even an open and shut case like the death of Eric Garner saw every police officer free to go without so much as a slap on the wrist.
And yes, the timing of the New York rally was incredibly inopportune, being only four days after the tragic death of NYPD Officer Randolph Holder, who was shot in pursuit of a gunman. That is a tragedy, the same tragedy that befalls many hard-working police officers and their families when they take the responsibility of protecting our civil liberties and pay for it with their lives.
But you know what? These rallies, and people like Tarantino, aren’t talking about Officer Randolph Holder. We’re talking about officers like Daniel Pantaleo, who killed Eric Garner with an illegal choke-hold while he cried for help on video. We’re talking about officers like Darren Wilson, who shot Michael Brown under suspicious circumstances and wasn’t even tried. We’re talking about a system which protects these officers at the cost of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. We’re talking about recognizing dangerous patterns and working to prevent them.
Because at the end of the day, every one of us needs to look at ourselves. There is something wrong with this system, there is something wrong with police protocol. But there’s also something wrong with how we antagonize each other. We need to choose our words carefully. We civilians need to show that we do support the honest police officers who work hard and make incredible sacrifices for us. But the police need to show us that they recognize a problem and are working to change it.
I’d prefer to live in a country where we don’t fear cops as fascist enforcers, and where police officers don’t fear everyday civilians as potential threats. We all need to be making some changes… but since the police have the guns, it might make sense for them to make the first move.
By the way, Tarantino’s new film The Hateful Eight comes out this Christmas.
Via The Wrap