How movie violence and life really connect

If you wonder how movie violence connects to life,
listening to Tarantino in this interview is very revealing:

In it, he uses Django's situation in the movie as a metaphor for his relationship to the interviewer.

Django is a slave who fights his way to freedom by killing all of the white people that torture and suppress him.
Especially toward the end, Django does not hestitate to shoot people immediately once he has the chance.

Psychologically, Tarantino interprets being confronted with a question he does not like as being "held captive like a slave".
In the movie, we learn that the logical reaction to a situation like that is to shoot your slave master.
Instead of threatening the interviewer with "I am going to shoot you", which would be the appropriate reaction according to the metaphor,
he says "I am going to shut your but down".

"You are not my master, I am not your slave." - "I am going to shut your but down."

Tarantino does not behave violently on the physical level, instead channels the "violence" into dirty language.
The thought, the image, the underlying pattern however is there, and it is informed by his own movie.

I think I understand now what disturbs me personally so much about Tarantino and his films.
That violence is not something that erupts in a catharsis, something that we become cleansed from through the movie.
Instead, Tarantino gives us this kind of "violence" as a natural aspect of everyday life.
"I am going to shut your but down".

To express it in more provocative terms:
What we learn in his movies are the thought patterns of a self-righteous jerk.

(BTW - the violence in Django is comparably comic and abstract compared to his other films, it his not his worst film in that regard. In fact, there are extremely long stretches of dialog.)
01-11-2013 07:45 AM

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Tim Boone

Tim Boone

I think one of the points you were trying to make Fritz, about how Tarantino's situation with the interviewer can be perceived as a metaphor for how he sees violence in real life, I think there are a lot of inconsistencies with your reasoning.
For one, it would not be too much of a challenge to take any one thing in life and look at it in a certain way and see it as a microcosm or metaphor of something else, but I mean, it's so vague and there are so many countless factors involved in accurately comparing two things like this that it's way too much of a stretch to expect there to be any credible validity in any insight you discover through the analysis of one particular conversation as it relates to the substance of the person in question who is involved in the conversation.
I'm not sure I articulated my thoughts very clearly right there, but my point is: I'm no psychologist, but to me there are so many countless other factors to consider in making that particular point that I think your metaphor may be convenient and clever, it is a gargantuan stretch to expect something so extremely vague to be an accurate representation of the substance of Tarantino.
One conversation, with a very limited visible context, I might add, can hardly tell you who this person is and where they're coming from.
Yes, Tarantino cleverly used the words of slave and master, but that's obviously because he was immersed in that world and has a way with words and just spontaneously put that spin on it since it seemed appropriate enough(as far as Tarantino wasn't obligated to answer if he didn't want to, thus, he's not a 'slave' and the interviewer is not his 'master'), so that was just an amusing, clever play on words, and I'm sure he used those words specifically to simultaneously stand up for his right to not give in to the interviewer and at the same time to say something clever that is relevant to the movie, and he obviously just did this spontaneously as a reaction to the interviewer, so, although it was clever wording and managed to have a double meaning and make his point AND be relevant in mentioning the movie they're supposed to be discussing, his words obviously weren't all well thought out and planned beforehand, he just said it off the top of his head, and the resulting conversation is hardly a microcosm of who Tarantino is as far as his values concerning real life violence are.
Yes, Tarantino did react a little harshly, but as I recall, the interviewer came across as very aggressive and even slightly condescending and Tarantino just kept his cool, and gave him chance after chance, still keeping his cool, and that guy kept persisting and he hit a button and Tarantino reacted in a way that made me embarrassed for him slightly, but that was mostly because I knew people would take it out of context and jump all over him about it.
Anyway, I don't think because Tarantino got defensive and argumentative while being unfairly and unexpectedly interrogated for the umpteenth time about something he's been adamantly clarifying for over two decades now, I don't think that because he snapped at that guy and reacted with a sort of emotional violence(which the interviewer aggressively attacked him with first,over and over)and happened to cleverly use the words 'slave' and 'master', and he made a FICTIONAL movie about a slave getting revenge and killing the master, I mean, I can see how you were tempted to make that clever little correlation between the two, but just because Tarantino made a FICTIONAL movie about a slave killing his master and Tarantino subsequently said to someone "I'm not your slave and you're not my master", that hardly means he wants to kill the guy.
Since when does what a filmmaker puts into his stories mean he condones those things in real life? Obviously, Tarantino doesn't condone slavery and of course this movie is about that, but the fact that Tarantino has killing and violence in his movies doesn't mean that's something he condones in real life.
People are still so so so confused about the line between movies and reality, it just absolutely baffles me at times. But, I do say 'at times', because I am just as guilty of similar thinking and it's a complicated issue, but when you really think about it, for the most part, people are just misjudging most filmmakers' intentions with violent movies.
Yeah, Tarantino could have and maybe should have composed himself a little bit better, but considering that he has likely had an overwhelmingly insane amount of pressure and negativity coming at him, I think he honestly composed himself pretty well if you take into that context, and I mean, also, he's a human being! Are famous people not allowed to get mad and get into arguments? And I mean with this movie, it's just crazy what Tarantino has done, you know? He has some major fucking balls to actually do this, and I think the question of violence in movies as it relates to violence in real life is a very very val

Apr 1 - 06:55 PM

Tim Boone

Tim Boone

The last of that got cut off..Anyway, I apologize, as I see I slightly misinterpreted your first post, as I quickly read it, and a while later I wrote my response without re-reading your comment first, and I now realize I'd slightly misinterpreted specifically what you were saying; You were saying that Tarantino's natural reaction when he was feeling 'oppressed' by the interviewer was to lash out at him, and seeing as the movie in question has a slave lashing out at his oppressors with physical violence, you're saying there's a correlation between the two, right? More specifically, what you seem to be saying though, is that Tarantino's aggressive reaction was that of a self-righteous jerk, and that he's 'teaching' us, by example, presumably, that the way to be is to be a self-righteous jerk, because...he reacted like a 'self-righteous jerk' in this interview..? Or..? I thought you were saying that Tarantino's reaction in this interview is proof that movies inspire real life violence, well, I was under that impression at first, but the point you seem to have made is that Tarantino is a self-righteous jerk because he reacted defensively when 'cornered' in the interview, and since he used the metaphor that he was not a 'slave' and the interviewer was not his 'master', and since he also made a movie in which the enslaved kills his master, you're saying this is proof that Tarantino is teaching us a pattern of violence from a 'self-righteous jerk', but as far as I can see, these so called 'thought patterns of a self-righteous jerk' we're being taught equate to this: stand up to yourself if being oppressed. He did so verbally in the interview, and the movie was an entertaining metaphor about this very kind of thing.

But, let me take a step back. What you're saying, amongst other things, is that Tarantino's response was a poor one, and maybe that he could have handled the situation in a more mature and civil manner, and I would agree that people should always be good to each other and be civil, but I don't think that Tarantino's reaction was completely unfounded(considering the interviewer's aggressive,condescending,even arrogant approach, and the fact that Tarantino has been attacked with this question his whole career and what not and being attacked in general about this movie), and I think he was keeping his cool at first but the interviewer was relentless and Tarantino snapped on him a little bit, but I don't think an isolated incident in which someone gets a little bit frustrated and upset and argumentative like this, I mean, in reality, it was pretty mild compared to what most people regularly go through in every day life, and if he always acted like this though, if he were always flying off the handle at people or something like that, that would be different, but, and I would be lying if I claimed that Tarantino hasn't lost his temper a few times, but I don't think we should be so quick to judge him in this particular incident, and I definitely don't think this interview proves that real life violence has anything to do with movie violence.

Apr 1 - 11:30 PM

John S.

John Smith

The absolute worst movie of the year. Filled with hatred, violence, racism, and stereotypes. What a mess.

Jan 15 - 12:46 PM

Cory Wallace

Cory Wallace

I can't speak to the psycho-analysis of Tarantino as an artist and interviewee, but I do think the characterization of Tarantino's portrayal of violence as a "natural aspect of everyday life" is some what off base, especially in DJANGO. I have a hard time watching violence and frequently have to close my eyes when I know something ultra graphic is coming (the Mandango brawl, Dartanian getting ripped apart by dogs, Moon boy threatening Django's testicles with a knife), so I am in no way desensitized to or seek out violent images, but I think these images belonged in this movie. It was earned.

The movie takes place in a time and place where things like this were an aspect of everyday life. QT made a movie about one of the most disgusting periods of human history. He had to show us these things to make it clear what DJANGO was facing, and what he was fighting for. It belonged in this movie and this movie was justified because slavery, and probably a lot of the nasty things we watched the bad guys do to slaves, are a part of our history.
We needed to be confronted by this to understand this story.

Wether or not QT is just straight up exploiting this history for his own gain is another discussion.....

Jan 12 - 02:37 AM


Fritz Klein

thanks for the response!
Unfortunately this forum doesn't allow editing comments, I would have worded it a little differently in retrospect.

I think you do have a point about confrontation with history, and that those images were needed within the dramaturgical structure of the movie.

The point about "everyday life" should maybe have been better expressed like this:
- on the one hand, "guns" and "freedom" become conflated in this movie. At its most heroic, a Django who just shot&killed all of his slave masters rides on his horse with a gun in his hand.

- on the other hand, and this is closer to the point I attempted to make, the main character is surrounded by people who really want to do bad things to him. This is completely unrealistic, as every human being, no matter how twisted, always has an interior logic and an ideal of being a good person themselves.
There simply are no evil people like that.
Hanna Arendt for example pointed out the "banality of evil".

What I am trying to say is that Tarantino constructs a world full of worthless jerks because that's what he needs to justify and unfold his violence.

It's similar to a computer game in which all human characters you see just want you dead, most of them need to be killed.
The level is over when you are alone and have all the space for yourself.
And this world view - the view of one person against everyone else fighting a violent fight, that is exactly what is a match between a movie like and the world view of school schooters:
Everyone is a jerk and deserves to die.
People of "normal" constitution can think everyone is a jerk and not act upon it - instead say stuff like "I'm going to shut your butt down" if something doesn't go according to their desires.

But the important point here is that the situation is set up and it gets transferred from the medium (game, film, etc.) into real life through metaphor.
In movies, we learn to read our own situation a certain way.
It's something that goes completely without notice.

Jan 13 - 04:43 PM

Stacey Gray

Stacey Gray

I respectfuly dissagree with your opinion that "Tarantino constructs a world full of worthless jerks because that's what he needs to justify and unfold his violence." IMO he is only mirroring the world as it is,full of worthless jerks who are out to take advantage of others and do so for their own gain.These are the people that Tarantino and his audiences get a thrill out of seeing cut down.

Jan 14 - 03:13 PM

Tim Boone

Tim Boone

Also, Fritz, IMO, the idea about guns and freedom being conflated in this movie, well, the reality of it is that guns and freedom did literally go hand in hand, unfortunately, during slave rebellions and the civil war and what not, and in order for Django's story to have at least some sort of sense of realism, of course, I mean it's spaghetti western slave revenge adventure epic, of course there's going to be guns, and in this particular case, they're being used for a righteous cause: Freedom. And since you're so fond of metaphors you ought to realize that enjoying the (yes,)cathartic violence in the movie is just a fantastical experience of fictional entertainment, and any correlation to real life the movie has as far as empowerment is strictly metaphorical; the empowering qualities of the catharsis of the experience of this movie is intended, if anything, as an inspiration to fight against oppression in it's various incarnations, but the movie is not trying to inspire actual acts of physical violence, the catharsis happens because we know it's fiction and it allows us to confront feelings that can give us a healthy release while being entertained and without having to resort to unhealthy destructive behavior.

As far as looking at the film from the perspective that the character is surrounded by people who want to do bad things to him, and you think that would be an unrealistic predicament for a suspiciously freed slave poking around in the Antebellum South? Come on now, need I say more? And I do get your point though, but I don't think that because Tarantino chose to put this particular character in that particular kind of world means that Tarantino has a 'world view' that's generally like this. He isn't saying the world, in general, is like this. He's saying THIS particular world, and many like it, DEFINITELY ARE like this, and not only whole cultures or civilizations, even, back to the metaphors, even just in life, have you not been in a predicament in which it felt like all the cards were stacked against you and the world was against you?

So, I don't think every part of the story has to fit into this perfect metaphor of how Tarantino thinks society should be. When did he or anyone say that a movie and all it's details are portrayed exactly as the filmmaker thinks it would be like in an ideal world? Or even how he sees this world? Either way, I think that these types of things do come out in the subtext of the piece and what not, but when the story takes place in a dark evil 'world', I think it's unfair to equate how the intentionally-portrayed-as-bad world of the movie with how the filmmaker sees the world in general(as opposed to how he wants the world of the movie portrayed).

Anyway, I can see how you came to see things that way and I think you articulated yourself well, definitely better than my convoluted novels ^_^

Anyway, I have more to say, but I'll just leave it at that for now, peace..

Apr 1 - 10:28 PM

Richard Leche

Richard Leche

What cloud of puritanism do you live on Fritz?

Jan 11 - 11:08 PM


Fritz Klein

hehe no puritanism over here for sure.
I just don't understand how the characters in this movie (and actually in most other Tarantino films, with maybe the exception of Jackie Brown and Reservoir Dogs) ended up being and behaving this way. It is honestly something very alien and scary to me, it feels psychopathic, and I wonder why I don't see more people struck by that?

Jan 13 - 04:48 PM

Brian Harris

Brian Harris

Way to over think it.

Jan 11 - 10:05 PM

Tyler S.

Tyler Smith

Ha... No kidding.

Jan 12 - 12:07 PM

hollis m.

hollis mills

it doesnt and you didnt like it, quit trying to prove points.

Jan 11 - 05:09 PM

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