With the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut still lingering on the mind on the nation, there has been an awful lot of talk (but not much action) from politicians and pundits on both sides of the issue. But perhaps grabbing the biggest headline, for better or worse, was the lunkheaded NRA VP Wayne LaPierre, who dredged up the old argument that movie violence (citing films like "American Psycho" — which has no guns — and "Natural Born Killers") as the cause of these kinds of incidents, not the wide availability of assault weapons and magazines that carry more payload that anyone realistically needs outside of the military. With his own blood spurting "Django Unchained" in theaters, NPR‘s Terry Gross broached the subject with director Quentin Tarantino, who bristled slightly at (again) being asked about the effect of violence on society.
"I’m really annoyed. I think it’s disrespectful. I think it’s disrespectful to their memory, actually," Tarantino said about being asked movie violence. "[It’s disrepectful to] the memory of the people who died to talk about movies. I think it’s totally disrespectful to their memory. Obviously, the issue is gun control and mental health." Hear, hear.
Gross started the conversation by basically asking if Tarantino is sensitive to what happened in Newtown, and his own viewing habits following such an incident. "Do you mean like on that day would I watch ‘The Wild Bunch‘? Maybe not on that day," he replied, adding: "Would I watch a kung fu movie three days after the Sandy Hook massacre? Would I watch a kung fu movie? Maybe, ’cause they have nothing to do with each other."
But if there’s one thing on the big screen that Tarantino will not abide by, it’s animal death. "The only thing that I’ve ever watched in a movie that I wished I’ve never seen is the real-life animal death, a real-life insect death in a movie. That’s absolutely positively where I draw the line and a lot of European and Asian movies do that, and we even did that in America for a little bit of time," he said. "I don’t like seeing horses being yanked on cables from running Ws. I don’t like seeing animals murdered on screen."
"…movies are about make believe. It’s about imagination. Part of the thing is we’re trying to create a realistic experience, but we are faking it. And the faking it is the art. The faking it is the art of it, it’s the make believe of it all. I don’t think that there’s any place in a movie for a real death," he continued. "And you can say, oh, [Sam] Peckinah shot the heads off the chickens in ‘Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid‘ but it’s OK because they ate the chickens afterwards. And actually, maybe those chickens got three more days of life because they were taken out of a slaughterhouse and everything. Well, you can justify it that way because people eat chicken and I eat chicken, so all good. I don’t want to see real death, though, that’s the problem. It’s the watching of the real chicken get his real head blown off. I didn’t, I don’t pay money or I don’t want to sit down and watch real death when I watch a movie. I don’t even want to see an animal terrified. I’ve seen movies where they’ve terrified an animal to get a response from him and I don’t want to see that."
Undoubtedly, this won’t be the last we hear on the subject. Share your thoughts with us below.