Seeing through Tarantino

Another blockbuster article in the New Yorker. I always felt Tarantino and his work are severely overrated. I’m mean, sure, his creativity is boundless. But the question I have always had has been about his intellectual integrity, or lack thereof.

“Inglourious Basterds” was an imagining of WW2, painful to sit through, because it took one of humanity’s worst and greatest moments and filtered it down to a superhero tale hinging entirely on Brad Pitt’s character. Jelani Cobb hits the nail squarely on the head when she notes that: The movie’s [Inglourious Basterds”] lines between fantasy and the actual myopic perspectives on history were so hazy that the audience wasn’t asked to suspend disbelief, they were asked to suspend conscience. Now I don’t remember a great deal about that movie, but I do remember it made my stomach churn.

There is some controversy over Tarantino’s latest film: “Django Unchained”. I’m not sure what kept him from calling it “Nigger Unchained”, since as Cobb notes: “the term appears with such numb frequency that “Django” manages to raise the epithet to the level of a pronoun.” What Tarantino is trying to pull off here is quite audacious. He imagines that his use of a black character as a vengeful assassin in the era of slavery, should inoculate the film from critics of his method. After all, in a culture afraid to use the “n-word” (as even Cobb is), how is one to criticize it’s obscene usage in a film about slavery? As Cobb puts it: “Had the word appeared any more often it would have required billing as a co-star”! She highlights Tarantino’s racial sleight-of-hand by pointing out his propensity to employ the “n-word” in his other movies (“Jackie Brown” and “Pulp Fiction” to name two) which do not even remotely connect with slavery.

The question is, will the audience also see through Tarantino the way Jelani Cobb does, as he searches desperately in his cinematic bag of tricks for more ways to fool them?

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