Quentin Tarantino and the truth about slavery (feat. Krishnan Guru-Murthy)
CHANNEL 4 news has a mixed record with interviews. In this interview, Krishnan Guru-Murthy asks foot fetishist Quentin Tarantino about violence in his new film, Django Unchained. Tarantino isn’t keen to answer. He’s there to talk about the film. He wants us to watch it. Guru-Murthy wants to talk about things in the film that only the critics have seen. He wants to talk about violence. But without the context of the film, his question is fishing for tabloid sensation.
How can the debate be worthwhile? Of course it is, because Guru-Murthy realises the golden rule of interviews: make it interesting. He tells Tarantino it’s a news show. It is. But this segment is about entertainment. Even if G-M links it to the fiscal cliff, the film is still about entertainment. People interested in entertainment, like to be entertained. So. Good job. And hats off to Tarantino for being a top interviewee:
“Don’t ask me a question like that. I’m not biting. I’m refusing your question. I’m not your slave and you’re not my master. You can’t make me dance to your tune. I’m not your monkey. I refuse…
“I don’t want…. I’m here to sell my movie. This is a commercial for the movie. Make no mistake… I don’t want to talk about what you want to talk about. I don’t want to talk about the implications of violence. The reason I don’t want to talk about it? Because I’ve said everything I have to say about it. If anyone cares what I have to say about it, they can Google me. They can look for 20 years what I have to say. I haven’t changed my opinion one iota.”
In the printed media, reviews can be more thoughtful than G-M’s baiting. This from Ta-Nehisi Coates:
I’m not very interested in watching some black dude slaughter a bunch of white people, so much as I am interested in why that never actually happened, and what that says. I like art that begins in the disturbing truth of things and then proceeds to ask the questions which history can’t. Among those truths, for me, is the relative lack of appetite for revenge among slaves and freedmen. The great slaughter which white supremacists were always claiming to be around the corner, was never actually in the minds of slaves and freedman. What they wanted most was peace. It’s true they had to kill for it. But their general perspective was “Leave me the fuck alone.”
Django’s plot is totally implausible… But I think Django conveys a better gut sense of what slavery, and by proxy, the Civil War, was all about. Both movies are great. One makes you cry; the white men did something right; the country realized its mistake and began atone for it with Constitutional amendments. The other makes your innards turn: you’ll know how utterly evil, insane and unique the practice of American slavery was and why political and legal transformations are still, today, not enough to expiate our shame.
Tarantino’s right. It’s the slavery not the violence they’re talking about: