Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino has often found himself at the center of debates over the treatment of women in his movies. That conversation was reignited on social media after the May 22 Cannes press conference for his new movie, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Farah Nayeri, a reporter from The New York Times, asked Tarantino why Margot Robbie did not have more dialogue in the movie. In the film, Robbie stars as Sharon Tate, the model and actress who was murdered in 1969 by members of Charles Manson’s cult.
Robbie was third billed in the film after Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, but Tarantino’s scenes of Tate are mostly dialogue-free. The portrayal was clearly concerning to Nayeri. When asked about the decision not to have Sharon speak much in the film, Tarantino replied, “I reject your hypothesis.”
The question then turned to Robbie herself, who replied, “I think the moments I was on screen gave a moment to honor Sharon. I think the tragedy was the loss of innocence. To show the wonderful sides of her could be done without speaking. I did feel like I got a lot of time to explore the character without dialogue, which is an interesting thing. Rarely do I get an opportunity to spend so much time on my own as a character.”
Both Robbie’s limited dialogue and Tarantino’s blunt response to Nayeri resulted in accusations of misogyny against Tarantino. The director is no stranger to these claims. Tarantino’s last film, “The Hateful Eight,” came under fire for its depiction of Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character Daisy Domergue. Daisy is continuously beaten by male characters throughout the movie. Kerry Washington’s character in “Django Unchained” was similarly assaulted on screen.
Many critics were quick to point out that Tarantino’s films are overflowing with dynamic female characters, from The Bride in “Kill Bill” to the eponymous protagonist in “Jackie Brown,” but others pointed out there’s a difference between writing great female characters and treating women in the real world with respect. Numerous headlines accused Tarantino of “snapping back” at the female reporter after the question was asked. The press conference moment was captured on video (watch in the first video below).
As film journalist Alyssa Klein wrote on Twitter, “Hi men, please never talk to me the way Quentin Tarantino responded to this very legitimate question from a journalist.”
Sony is opening “Hollywood” in theaters July 26.
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) May 23, 2019
Tarantino has written a number of substantial female roles, so by all means argue with people who say otherwise, but just so we’re clear on this, Kerry Washington’s character in DJANGO UNCHAINED is not a case for the defence.
— Guy Lodge (@GuyLodge) May 23, 2019
Like, Tarantino has made some good movies and some bad movies but why even pretend like he gives a shit about female characters?
— Carmen Maria Machado (@carmenmmachado) May 22, 2019
I’m not a huge Tarantino fan but this is an unbelievably stupid criticism. Tarantino made a two volume action film with a female lead. He made Jackie Brown with a female lead. Some of his most iconic characters have been females. So there are fewer females in this one. Who cares? https://t.co/YHSfnOzR7K
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) May 23, 2019
A little late on this, but:
Quentin Tarantino has written substantial roles for women in the past.
Does that give him a free pass for being unprofessional to a female journalist who’s only doing her job? No.
— Matthew St.Clair (@filmguy619) May 23, 2019
Amazing. Clearly the reporter was attempting to accuse Tarantino of deliberately writing a weak female character and he shuts her down, rightly so. This man wrote Kill Bill, and Jackie Brown remember?
— Paul Blake (@ThatPaulBlake) May 22, 2019
Hi men, please never talk to me the way Quentin Tarantino responded to this very legitimate question from a journalist.
Also, does she have a name? I just keep seeing people refer to her as a “female journalist”. Who is this mysterious female journalist?! https://t.co/AMNN3WBi3x
— Alyssa Klein (@dj_diabeatic) May 23, 2019
— Melissa Silverstein (@melsil) May 23, 2019
There are many many legitimate beefs to have with the life and work of Quentin Tarantino so it seems very strange to manufacture falsehoods for easy likes is all I’m saying!! pic.twitter.com/JwIUCNoASR
— Jason Bailey (@jasondashbailey) May 23, 2019
Never thought I’d see the day I defend Tarantino but like, I think he gives more of a shit about his female characters than he does his female friends in real life. Has everybody just forgotten that this man created KILL BILL and DEATH PROOF? I’m at a loss for words https://t.co/SCACQ86kd4
— THE BLAIR BITCH (@sick__66) May 23, 2019
Tarantino: Still a misogynist piece of shit https://t.co/IDU54mSl0j
— Xeni Jardin (@xeni) May 22, 2019