When you’re dealing with Quentin Tarantino, controversy sort of comes with the territory. All of his films have been met with a healthy dose of outrage and various pleas for the sake of the children and all that is holy etc. etc. Pulp Fiction glorified gangsters. Jackie Brown was racist. Kill Bill was indulgently violent. Inglourious Basterds enabled Holocaust denial. These are often used as conversation stoppers, ad hominem charges against a very vocal and visible and outspoken target that serve to justify a general dismissal of a body of work that is both undeniably alluring and formally difficult. That is to say, Tarantino’s movies are cool and complicated. His most recent film, Django Unchained, is no different.
It’s a movie that has garnered loads of award season attention and accolades for its writing and acting, most notably the performance by Christoph Waltz, although its ensemble of Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson, not to mention the completely overlooked Kerry Washington, is one of the strongest of the past year. At the same time, especially in the wake of recent gun violence in the United States, this American movie has become the subject of intense scrutiny. To Tarantino’s credit, he has faced all these criticisms head-on. To his detriment, he is not terribly enjoyable to listen to for an extended period of time.
He has actually given rather intelligent and straightforward responses to many of the simplistic responses to Django Unchained, but alas, he has yet to organize them in enumerated list form. So if I may, here are the appropriate responses—some paraphrases of Mr. Tarantino’s statements as well as some embellishment and addendums by yours truly—to the same old tired laundry list of complaints people are making about this brilliant tribute to and deconstruction of the spaghetti western genre.
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