Should Quentin Tarantino Be Canceled?

This controversial filmmaker’s cult following has led to two Oscars and four Golden Globes awards.

Before the release of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), writer Roy Chacko made the argument that Quentin Tarantino should be canceled in The Guardian newspaper.

Uma Thurman pictured mutilated in Kill Bill.

Tarantino has always been a controversial filmmaker. His directorial debut Reservoir Dogs (1992) was of course critical in the rise of indie filmmaking in the United States but also so violent and so crude that many people walked out when it debuted at the Cannes Film festival in 1992.

Pam Grier stars in Jackie Brown, a Tarantino film that Samuel L. Jackson has expressed is his favorite Tarantino film ever.

Tarantino welcomed the controversy saying: “For some people the violence, or the rudeness of the language, is a mountain they can’t climb. That’s OK. It’s not their cup of tea. But I am affecting them. I wanted… to be disturbing.”

Pulp Fiction (1994) was shot on an $8 million budge and grossed over $200 million at the box office.

Chacko’s argument, then, is not new but the crux of it shines a light on Tarantino’s recurring themes of violence toward women and the place of his films in popular culture. Chacko notes:

The Kill Bill films were a cinematic orgy of on-screen violence, most of it directed at Thurman: her character is severely beaten throughout and buried alive. Daryl Hannah’s character Elle Driver doesn’t fare much better – she has both her eyes pulled out. Things reached a peak with Tarantino’s 2015 western The Hateful Eight: Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character is handcuffed to a corpse and beaten and tortured throughout the film.

Is Chacko right? To Tarantino fans you just have to read between the lines to see that the films make important ethical statements. After all, how many directors vow to only make 10 films in their lifetime and dedicate two consecutive films to a kickass female protagonist? Here are what fans say.

Matt Cates argues Tarantino’s movies have feminist themes.

If people demand equal rights, then it is hypocritical to complain if a female fictional character gets treated as bad as a male fictional character. Did I mention fictional character? Apart from all this equal treatment, Tarantino actually has the most utterly badass female characters in the history of cinema. He LOVES to put his heroes through the ringer to show how fucking tough they are.

Have you seen Death Proof? The baddest stunt women on Earth! They beat the shit out of some ballsack jerkoff who was killing women, after turning the tables on him. If he hates women, why do so many want to be in his movies? Most of the time, if a female is present, she is in a position of strength. Even if she if a prisoner (Hateful Eight) or a criminal’s wife (Pulp Fiction). Have you seen Inglourious Basterds? The heroine is a French woman! Have you seen Jackie Brown? The protagonist is a woman!

Delia Binder doesn’t want to cancel the filmmaker, but expresses disdain for Tarantino.

As somebody who is far from a Tarantino fan, I’d strongly say, “No – if you find his work so fucking offensive, don’t go see it!”

Part of why I dislike most of his movies so much is that he doesn’t write people, he writes characters based on characters he’s already seen in movies. He seems fundamentally incapable of seeing that the people behind his trope-bending works often feel belittled or vulnerable to real threat.

I acquit him of being actively Evil or Misogynistic or Racist, but not of being deliberately obtuse and frequently thoughtless. Live in your own head long enough, with nobody on the outside long-term to remind you the Universe consists of Other People not just absurdly-overblown stereotypes, and you start to see the world that way….

Hundreds of gallons of fake blood were used to achieve the blood-soaked film Django Unchained.

Another argument stands on the grounds of a “don’t hate the player, hate the game” mentality. And if blood, bullets and blades do not suit your fancy, some believe you should know better than to subject yourself to a Tarantino flick.

Tarantino is one of the boldest and freshest voices in Hollywood! To “cancel” him would be to cancel the reason why movies exist: to entertain us and enlighten us with one’s unique perspective. Tarantino even said that movies are essentially an escape from reality. Yes, there are themes and whatnot to go with the story, but we go to the movies to engage in a sort of fantasy.

Whether we admit it or not, we all have violent fantasies sometimes when someone has done us wrong. In other words, if someone fucks with us, we want to kick their ass!! Is this right virtuous and ethical? Probably not, but there is nothing wrong with standing up for ourselves when we are wronged. Tarantino takes this element of revenge fantasy and puts it on steroids and, just like in war, if we aren’t violent in our self defense, they will be violent towards us. Most of the time, the main characters turn to violence because they have been victims of it–like in Kill Bill.

Again, his movies aren’t for everyone, if it bothers you, you have the freedom not to see it. But, I believe people are bothered simply for the fact that they cannot understand and, just like children, they have a problem differentiating reality from fantasy.

Mark Anthony
Tarantino is no stranger to well composed shots that highlight the female physique…especially toes.

This fan makes the argument that everything can’t be fuzzy bunnies.

It’s absurd to suggest that Quentin Tarantino should be ‘canceled’. So no, I certainly do not think that Quentin Tarantino should be ‘canceled’, or compelled to only make peaceful documentaries about fuzzy bunny rabbits, just because some people don’t like the violence in his movies. Those people should stick to watching a movie depicting flowers blowing in the wind, to and fro!

Aditya Simha

Whether you are a Tarantino fan or not, Jason Reynold’s argument boils down to the idea of cancel culture in general.

It’s time to cancel “cancel culture.” There are lots of real issues that divide people such as abortion, gay marriage, etc. that people have to live with even if they despise them. They justify each by saying if you don’t want an abortion or gay marriage you don’t need to get one.

Cancel culture essentially says if you don’t like something you have the right to force nobody to be able to have them. Unlike an abortion, a “problematic” media experience doesn’t impact a third party that has no say in the matter.

Jason Reynolds

As a superhero once said, with great power comes great responsibility. With a platform as influential as Tarantino’s, is it his responsibility to deliver a compelling cinematic experience to his devoted audience, or fix the world’s problems through his lens? Audiences line up around the block to see what he has to say, and maybe the brains who gravitate to gory violence develop their own respect for human life through the characters and storylines that Tarantino provides.