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Director Quentin Tarantino is no stranger to controversy. Normally, however, that controversy surrounds his films, and not the man himself. The Pulp Fiction director has recently found himself in hot water with the NYPD regarding comments he made during a march to protest police violence. Now his words have reverberated across the country, and the LAPD currently is backing New York’s call to boycott Tarantino’s films.
Over this past weekend Tarantino was part of a march and rally put on by a group called RiseUpOctober to protest police brutality. When he spoke to the assembled crowd, he referred to some of the deaths that have occurred as "murders." To add insult to injury, the protest occurred on the heels of an NYPD officer being killed while on duty. This led to the NYPD calling for a boycott of Tarantino’s movies. Now, according to MSNBC that call has now been picked up and supported by police in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Police Protective League president Craig Lally stated that language like that which Tarantino used could make police bigger targets than they already are.
Tarantino had previously commented on the unfortunate timing of the rally in relation to the officer’s death, and also stated that the killing was equally tragic. He has not, however, made any public comments on the call to boycott his movies. While it’s still only been a few days, the issue does seem to be growing rather than shrinking. Tarantino’s newest film, The Hateful Eight, doesn’t come out until Christmas Day, so leaving the problem alone may be the best option. Drawing attention to the problem now will only give it more life, and the best thing for the filmmaker would be to hope it’s all forgotten by December. It also wouldn’t be surprising if making a response only makes things worse, as it’s unlikely the outspoken writer would apologize for his words.
Criticism is nothing new for Quentin Tarantino. His films are often derided for their excessive language and violence. Whether or not they glorify crime -- as the NYPD has said -- is more open to interpretation, but they do certainly use it as a major centerpiece. His recent films, however, like Django Unchained and the upcoming The Hateful Eight have taken a close look at racial relations, admittedly in a hyperbolic way, which is an issue at the center of the current uneasiness. It’s something the man has spoken about at length and an issue he is obviously passionate about.
What at first seemed like two sides at odds with each other is now spreading to include additional parties. If more police departments take up the call, it will be interesting to see if the boycott really becomes something that will need to be dealt with.