Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino has been making violent (but well-received) movies for the past two decades.
His latest effort, “Django Unchained,” is the latest in a long line of bloody films. But unlike other Tarantino movies, “Django” was released less than two weeks after the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn., which spurred a new national conversation about the role of violence in our culture.
Given that context, it’s unsurprising that reporters would ask Tarantino about the extreme violence in his films. But it’s clear from Tarantino’s answers in this interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Britain’s Channel 4 News that he was tired of answering the question. (The exchange begins at 2:40.
Among other memorable lines, Tarantino testily told the reporter:
• “Don’t ask me a question like that—I’m not biting. I refuse 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 a monkey.”
• “I’m shutting your butt down.”
• “It’s none of your damn business.”
However, the most stunning part of this exchange wasn’t Tarantino’s tone (although that was quite something), but his defiance when he declared:
“I’m here to sell my movie. This is a commercial for my movie, make no mistake.”
That Tarantino views his interviewers as complicit in his marketing efforts may say more about the sycophantic press that normally interviews him than it does about him. But he seemed completely unaware of the difference between an obsequious entertainment scribe and a hard news reporter. And his answer revealed a lot about how Hollywood celebrities view the role of the entertainment press.
Tarantino’s responses were counterproductive. Had he answered the questions, even in an uninspired manner, the interview wouldn’t have gone viral. Instead, as usually happens when the subject of a news interview goes on the attack, he brought even more attention onto the very subject he was trying to avoid—the violence in his films.
(A grateful h/t to reader Bob LeDrew.)
Brad Phillips is author of the new book The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interview. He blogs at Mr. Media Training, where this story first appeared.