"I'm Not A Monkey": Watch Quentin Tarantino Shut Down U.K. Journalist Who Asks About Tie Between Movies & Violence

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by Joe Cunningham
January 10, 2013 5:26 PM
41 Comments
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Django Unchained” still hasn’t opened in the UK; in fact it’s one of four of this year’s Best Picture nominees that have yet to do so. It will, however, hit British cinemas in just eight days time, and Quentin Tarantino is over there at the moment to promote his new film which tonight has it’s London premiere. While doing said promoting, QT has so far come across as someone supremely confident in his own ability as a filmmaker, and unashamedly proud of the latest product he’s got to offer. In fact, it had all been going rather swimmingly, until he was interviewed by Channel 4 NewsKrishnan Guru-Murthy.

Guru-Murthy (who points out “this is a news program, not a film program…so we explore serious themes”) was intent on pressing Tarantino about his views on links between movie violence and real life violence, and QT didn’t like that one bit. “Don’t ask me a question like that. I’m not biting. I refuse your question,” says Tarantino. “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.”

That’s about four and a half minutes into the interview and it continues on that track for the majority of the eight and a half minute piece, with QT steadfast in his refusal to go beyond his initial assertion that there is no link between real life and movie violence (something he's already discussed on the press tour for the film). It truly is a fascinating watch, and it’s worth watching alone for QT quotes like “I’m shutting your butt down,” and “It’s none of your damn business what I think about that.” Oh, and watch out for the clearly worried PR’s hand popping into frame around the 7:47 mark, trying to wrap the interview up.

Frankly we don’t blame QT for refusing to answer a question that rather spuriously tries to connect his movie with real-life violent tragedies. If there’s any doubt about what Guru-Murthy and Channel 4 were trying to imply, just check out the tags accompanying the video their website – one of which reads "US guns." We’re just surprised that Guru-Murthy (who it has to be said is a respected journalist on that side of the Atlantic) pursues it for quite so long, but kudos to both of them for standing firm throughout. Watch the video for yourself and see if you think Tarantino dealt with this the right way, regardless of whether you agree with his original (and we believe valid) stance.

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41 Comments

  • Chaim Paddaman | January 21, 2013 4:37 AMReply

    Tarantino is a monkey. He is Harvey Weinstein's monkey. He will dance, when Harvey tells him to. He is such a pussycat.

  • James | January 13, 2013 11:51 PMReply

    Overall a pretty good interview apart from Tarintino's tantrum. Tarintino looks a bit shocked at getting some serious questions; he mustn't be too used to that these days. One wonders if this wasn't a British journalist if he would react the same way.

  • Annie | January 12, 2013 2:06 PMReply

    The point of this confrontation was not about violence but about respecting someones right to not discuss an area of questioning. It is clear that the reporter wants to lay at the directors feet some association between his movies and the tragic violence that took place this year. I don't blame the director from shutting him down. He tried to respectfully stop the reporter and even continued after the confrontation. His point was NO means NO.

  • Mr_Qwertz | January 12, 2013 2:50 AMReply

    I feel like most people are not logically thinking through their answers when they try relating gun violence in movies to real life. Movie violence only shows you that guns are effective killing tools, in the same way a news program or any kind of entertainment does. It just lets you know theres an option to kill.

    The problem isnt the gun violence itself but the mental jump it takes to say its okay to perpetrate gun violence on other people. Thats where good parenting and education come in: to show you why that mental jump is not valid. Millions of people watch violent entertainment but they know its wrong. That reporter isnt going to kill someone because he saw a movie do it, hes going to kill someone because there was a strong emotional component that comes from within and not the movie. That emotional component and lack of internal coping mechanism is what causes that specific type of gun violence, not portrayals of gun violence.

  • Callumq | January 11, 2013 3:10 PMReply

    Love his films, hate the person. Could he not have a serious discussion about something as topical as violence in films. You would think QT would be in his element talking peoples ears off on the subject. But instead we just get an arsehole.

  • An African American Male | January 11, 2013 1:25 PMReply

    Guru-Murthy demonstrated rare and admirable gumption for a journalist these days, as real critical journalism has been sadly diminishing over the years. Case in point: Tarantino himself had the audacity to refer to Channel 4's news program as “a commercial for his movie.” That’s how a lot of people feel about news these days, and with good reason. There should be more of him, and I personally hope that he keeps up the good work.

    I saw “Django” the other night. I had to go see it, because some of my fellow black folks told me they enjoyed it. All I can imagine is that there is a demographic of certain black folks out there that appreciates Tarantino’s offer of a “cathartic” release of watching Django rise up and slay white folks. Which is disappointing. It’s especially disappointing because the film “Django” is such an inauthentic depiction of the slave era.

    Sure there was violence in the slave era, and Tarantino delivered that. He’s good at that. But the dramatic impact of that violence and its potential authenticity is drastically offset by the film’s fallacious depiction of commonplace human empathy between slaves and their owners. In other words, throughout the film, slave owners and slave drivers generally recognize their black slaves as human beings; they’re commonly spoken to as if they’re human beings, and they’re listened to as if they’re human beings. In actuality, slaves were not considered human beings (not even legally), and were rarely addressed as or treated as such. And that’s the most horrifying aspect of the slave trade; that the slaves were not considered human beings. They were considered property, equivalent to horses, cows, dogs, or sheep. That’s what made slave traders, and the government that enabled their industry, monstrous. And that’s what Tarantino failed to depict in “Django.”

    “Django” includes, for example, scenes where black slaves were eating at the table alongside their white master and his guests, listening in on the dinner conversation as if they themselves were his valued friends or even members of his family. As if the majority of slave owners would commonly tolerate the sight of a black slave eating at their dinner tables. My own mother (who is alive today, and who was born far after 1858 in which “Django” was largely set, mind you) wasn’t allowed to eat in the same restaurant with white people when she was a child, much less the same table.

    “Django” includes ridiculous scenes wherein African slaves actually argue heatedly with their masters on the point of whether their master’s bidding should be done. As if such a thing were commonly tolerated by slave owners. Juxtaposed against this is the fact that in 1955, almost 100 years following the year 1858, a quiet young black woman named Rosa Parks was arrested by the police in Alabama when she refused to follow an order to give up her seat on a racially segregated public bus. To put this in perspective, the first human space flight occurred only 6 years later, in 1961.

    Understand this: I am not proposing that the above-mentioned scenes in “Django” never before happened in the history of slavery. More to the point is the fact that the overall depiction of these scenes creates an inference that they were commonplace; and in this regard, Tarantino’s film supports and even promotes the notion that slavery wasn’t so bad, because slaves were at least regarded as human beings.

    The reason this notion bothers me is because if we are to accept that slaves were at least regarded as human beings, then by logical extension we must reject the notion that the era of slave trade actually wasn’t so bad, and has little to do with the fact that—comparatively speaking—many black people in America today have failed to achieve even a nominal threshold with respect to education, financial sustainability, social equality and a sense of self-worth among their fellow men and women. And that’s just not true.

    In the above interview, Tarantino expressly confirmed that the intent of the violence in “Django” is to provide the viewer (presumably the black viewer) with a cathartic release. In other words, through the fictional endeavors of the Django character he hopes to satisfy the sense of vengeance that he believes many black people possess for having suffered the indignity of slavery.

    I don’t have a sense of vengeance to stoke… but if I did, it’s not likely that this film could satisfy it any more than “Inglorious Basterds” sufficed to act as a cathartic balm against the racial injustice that Jewish people went through at the hands of Hitler and which—to a degree—they continue to go through today.

    And in either case, take it from me that Quentin Tarantino doesn’t understand black people as well as he purports to.

  • A Person Who Couldn't Give a Fuck Less About Your Race/Gender | January 11, 2013 4:01 PM

    Everyone who enjoys cinema and doesn't just feel like watching the film is a necessity to jump in on the current race-relations argument it has spurred, stopped reading your post at "Django is an inauthentic depiction of the slave era."

  • Zinjo | January 11, 2013 2:17 PM

    As much as I appreciate the illumination of how people were treated during the era of US slavery, I can't deny your assertion that QT may not understand black people as much as others. However, so long as Tyler Perry is the community's most prolific film maker and one measures the intellectual depth of his work, the black community will be under represented in terms of compelling content. There is nothing stopping the community and black artists from forming a new United Artists group whereby relevant African American content can be produced from, It simply takes the will to invest in it and build it. Taping into the wealth of black athletes and and entertainers one could certainly create the financing to produce excellent content.

  • MJ | January 11, 2013 1:03 PMReply

    Tarantino has no obligation to defend himself to this self-righteous interviewer who clearly thinks there is a connection between movie violence and real violence. Nothing QT could say would change his mind. By the way, will I be watching the new Portlandia tonight? Absolutely not. Too much advertising on this page has turned me off it.

  • Made In Canada | January 11, 2013 9:26 AMReply

    Congrats to Tarantino. The reporter asked the question, Tarantino didn't want to answer it. End of story. To Robert , the comment before me who puts him down for how he looks...please, I'm sure no Daniel Craig yourself, go sit on a cactus sir!
    For all the haters of violent movies... You better have never watched a violent scene and enjoyed it and post a negative comment here. Your comments are invalid.
    Legalize Freedom! Take one away and before you know it the one that's important to you will be next.

  • bartek klimczak | January 11, 2013 9:22 AMReply

    I heard a really interesting quote the other day
    'If there is no link between violence on tv and it influencing violent behaviour in real life why does tv advertising exist"

  • KAZCMILK KETRAB | January 11, 2013 4:06 PM

    Great quote [for an idiot]! It truly is a shame it falls under fallacy - a person can easily and morally watch a kit-kat commercial and want to go buy and eat a kit-kat. A person see's violence and statistically speaking, does not morally want to or go to commit violence. Back to the drawing board!

  • MAL | January 11, 2013 9:34 AM

    Great quote and it does give one pause. I honestly don't know which side of the fence to fall on though. While I can't believe media violence has no effect, I also have to think there is a cultural "interpretation" of media violence. Japanese and Korean cinema have some of the most intense (and more commercially acceptable) film violence but view it as a cathartic release rather than an instruction book.

  • Robert | January 11, 2013 5:18 AMReply

    What a nob! How much coke must have gone up his nose before that interview? He looks totally wired, and like he hasn't showered for a week.

  • Alan B | January 11, 2013 4:55 AMReply

    I am in two minds about the interview as I thought both participants said very, very stupid things. Tarantino is actually right when he posits that the interviewer isn't really interested in what Tarantino has to say about violence, but is more concerned with getting the quote. Tarantino has talked plenty about violence in the past, so I am not sure how an 8 minute long interview can 'expand' the discussion, as Guru-Murthy posits. Tarantino has been very, very articulate about violence and cinema. But ... he chose to do it in the more dickish way possible. Telling a 'serious' (marketed as one, but actually kinda an idiot) journalist that he is JUST there to sell the film and the interview is simply a commercial is an example of unchecked Hollywood ego: he's ostensibly telling Guru-Murthy, 'hey, don't you know I am a proper Hollywood director and you're just some British journo that no one cares about ...' However, Guru-Murthy came across as both weak and arrogant, which is a deadly combination. His compliments were smug and insincere, and then he tries to defend his position as .... ummm, Tarantino owes it to his fans to talk about violence. Seriously? Guru-Murthy - who probably knows f all about Tarantino's fanbase - tries to speak on behalf of them, as if he knows more about them than Tarantino does. That's weak and desperate, and he backtracks constantly: Guru-Murthy says, "you must care very deeply that this film doesn't become, doesn't stand out from your body of work as one that is trashed by more people or anything like that"; Tarantino says, "It's not trashed by more people, what you are saying is not correct", Guru-Murthy says, "I'm not saying it is ..." If he wants to defend his position, then he should defend it, not try to backtrack and show how weak he is. Over and over, Tarantino is impatient with the questioning, and the interviewer attempts to tell Tarantino about his own films or to explain Tarantino's social responsibilities or throw up his hands and say, 'hey it's just my job. I will ask whatever idiot question pops into my limited brain and it's my job to ask these questions'. I'm sure Tarantino is bored and impatient with a 'hey, I'm a serious' journalist telling him what a director's responsibility is. Tarantino is right, but is a dick about it; Guru-Murthy is an idiot but pretends that he isn't ... which makes him seem like more of an idiot.

  • Davey | January 15, 2013 1:11 PM

    Except that Guru-Murthy never said "Django" was more "trashed" than any of Tarantino's other films. It's understandable how Tarantino could have taken it that way (especially since he almost always comes across as hyper-defensive in interviews), but Guru-Murthy was simply asking about how "Django"s reception could be a concern for Tarantino, a filmmaker who's on the record for being pretty obsessive about his "legacy"--he just recently talked about how "Death Proof" needs to be the worst film he ever makes, so of course he's going to be concerned about whether or not "Django Unchained" is trashed. It's a pretty smart, well-informed question on the part of Guru-Murthy, and he doesn't backtrack on it, he tries to clarify it.

  • Jacob | January 11, 2013 4:31 AMReply

    Well Tarantino doesn't really have a stance on this video except for the stance of not telling the interviewer anything. But the whole argument that violence on TV and in the movies has no effect on society completely devalues the power of cinema. A filmmaker is crazy if he does not think it has a impact. That is not to say I think all violence in Cinema is bad, I just find much of Tarantino's to be indulgent in a way that speaks to the lowest parts of humanity. We are supposed to cheer and be happy about seeing things that would never be okay in real life. Why don't we show more comedy rape scenes? It is not real life you know? Don't get me wrong, Tarantino is a very talented and passionate filmmaker. However, as a student in film I know just because a filmmaker is talented does not make his films worth watching.

  • Graduate of Film | January 11, 2013 4:08 PM

    Actually, as a student in film you admittedly don't know shit therefore you are paying money to educate yourself.

  • Mike | January 11, 2013 11:15 AM

    You think just because you are a film student you know everything, I am a film student too, and I'm smart enough to know that you don't know what you are talking about. He didn't even finish high school and I can tell you, you will never be as good as him, nor will I. How can you say it's not worth watching when every time he makes a movie his films are nominated and win all types of awards, including the 5 Oscar noms for this film. He has been in the business for over 20 years and you haven't even done a thing yet, show some respect to the ones who come before you and learn something from them.

  • Simon | January 11, 2013 4:24 AMReply

    I didn't realise the guy was such a nob! I certainly will not be going to pay to say any of his movies again.

  • nightgoat72 | January 11, 2013 12:31 AMReply

    Gotta say, QT came off like a raging jackass in that interview. I agree with him, but just refusing to discuss anything and spending all that time being abrasive and confrontational really does do anything constructive. If he's such a fan of "creating a dialogue" about slavery (which I think is kinda bullshit - internet comments sections rarely would qualify as something so lofty), why is he so adamantly against creating a dialogue about the psychology of violence, which is a pretty interesting subject regardless of your viewpoint?

    I mean seriously, it would have taken less time and effort to just discuss it than it did to mount that whole frivolously hostile tirade.

  • Django | January 11, 2013 2:24 AM

    I agree - but they were probably interested in "gun control violence film America" keywords rather than anything intellectual.

  • DG | January 10, 2013 7:59 PMReply

    Joe's Coke Wizard comment below is the best comment of 2013 so far

  • JOE | January 10, 2013 6:55 PMReply

    Um... "I am responsible for people talking about slavery in America in a way that they have not in 30 years." Are we not burying the lead here? I mean, wow. I'm surprised the Coke Wizard didn't pop up in the background and do a little dance at this point.

  • Dan | January 10, 2013 6:34 PMReply

    Two things....
    Channel 4 News is probably the most respected news programmes in the UK, and Guru-Murthy one of their leading journalists. It's not Entertainment Tonight, so he should have known who he was talking to when he agreed to go on the program.

    Secondly, one of the key arguments gun lobbyists are using (and will push relentlessly over the coming months) , is that movies and video games are responsible for warping the minds of those who carry out mass-shootings - that the Aurora killings even took place in a cinema while the audience were watching BATMAN RISES makes this an easy position to adopt . It's therefore essential that a cogent and robust argument against this is articulated by both industries. Given that Tarantino is one of the US's leading filmmakers, making some of the most violent, popular and critically respected mainstream films, and at the same time is such an eloquent and intelligent man, it's of concern that he refuses to join the national conversation. His position needs to be stated again and again, or the public debate will be won by the gun lobby, who won't just ask people to google their views. And heaven knows what the implications of that will be for filmmakers. It's a missed opportunity here.

  • Unchained | January 11, 2013 2:30 AM

    Infuriating - how many billions of connoisseurs of violence in art since the beginnings of art (cave paintings) and throughout until now (Django) didn't shoot up a fucking theater? Use your brain, rhetoric purveying pinhead.

  • Northern Star | January 10, 2013 10:30 PM

    "Channel 4 News is probably the most respected news programmes in the UK, and Guru-Murthy one of their leading journalists"... don't make me laugh Dan dude, Channel 4 is left-wing agitprop both in news and programming, the only good thing about Guru-Murthy is his his absolutely smoking hot sister, Geeta...

  • ATTACHIEF | January 10, 2013 10:27 PM

    Dan...eloquent? Uh...did we watch the same video?

  • P-Dub | January 10, 2013 7:09 PM

    But his position has been stated over and over again for twenty years. He was asked these exact same questions when Reservoir Dogs was coming out. He's been a part of the national conversation for years about it. I think he comes off poorly here in terms of tone but I don't think he's out of line for saying "I've answered this question a thousand times, let's move on." And the gun lobbyists are going about their argument the wrong way when it comes to this conversation. America isn't the only country that has violent video games and violent cinema. Asian cinema is some of the most consistently violent being created in the past few decades and they are also a HUGE video game culture, yet they have a fraction of the gun violence we have in America. You can say the same thing about most of Europe. Almost all American films and video games go overseas now and they see everything we see (for the most part) and their number of gun deaths is in single digits in some of those countries. Of course the gun lobbyists are going to point their finger somewhere else. There is a legitimate conversation to have about gun violence, mental health, and a culture of violence in our entertainment; but to say that violent films are the reason mass shootings happen is just a fundamental misunderstanding of the way the human brain works. Being desensitized to violence in films or games is one thing, but it is another to take a gun and randomly kill 20 young children. Those are two completely different areas of brain function and the way they operate our ways of thinking and acting in the world. Asking what Quentin Tarantino thinks of film violence isn't the answer to anything.

  • Mike | January 10, 2013 6:58 PM

    Completely agree.

  • Jack | January 10, 2013 6:27 PMReply

    Who had the better freakout PTA asking to stp asking about scientolgy, or this?

  • serpico | January 10, 2013 6:20 PMReply

    Tarantino doesn't have to say shit. Modern media is inane, and worse, shameless.

  • ATTACHIEF | January 10, 2013 6:18 PMReply

    PS - In the still displayed by this video before it starts...QT, or Bea Arthur?
    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2839582720/nm0037735

  • Don | January 10, 2013 6:17 PMReply

    The British media is worse then American media.

  • p-dub | January 10, 2013 6:07 PMReply

    I'm of two minds about this one. Yes, Tarantino has talked at length about movie violence for 20 years now. It's been a topic that's come up with just about every film save for maybe Jackie Brown. But at the same time he does come off as a bit of a jerk here and seems unusually abrasive towards the interviewer. I think a lot of that is probably frustration because he's been asked about it in probably every interview since the film came out. And there is also, once again, the fact that he's been asked about it for twenty years. Why aren't they interviewing the director of the new Texas Chainsaw 3D about his use of violence? That seems like a much bigger target to me in terms of a film whose sole existence is to get people into the theaters with the promise of excessive amounts of gore. At least Django Unchained is a story that is dealing with a lot more things than just showing blood. The violence in the film also has the context of history (the slave violence, not the western violence) and makes it clear when a scene is supposed to make you cheer or make you cringe.

    But, Tarantino could have simply said "Hey, I've answered these questions for twenty years and I've already answered it a ton of times lately. I know it's being asked because of the recent shootings in the states but my film came out after that even happened and in no way relates to what happened there. You know I make violent films, they're rated R, they're made for adults, and I'd appreciate it if you could ask me about something else."

  • ATTACHIEF | January 10, 2013 6:06 PMReply

    That was...hilarious. But I would like to know why "I've said it all before" is a valid defense, when the same could be said about everything he *did* want to say in this interview. He could have at least tried to gracefully half-answer the questions while simultaneously steering the conversation around to what he did want to say, like any good politician knows how to do. Even before he got ticked off his answers were pretty lacking in substance...

  • Daniel | January 10, 2013 11:20 PM

    I'm not saying he shouldn't or couldn't have handled it differently, but he's clearly a smart guy, capable of making intelligent decisions, and he chose to answer in the way he wanted to. I'll also grant you that Media Training 101 says there are more effective ways to deal with unwanted questions - but then again, here we are discussing THIS interview, not the hundreds of others where he's been better behaved. If it were a first-time filmmaker who really needed to make a good impression, things would probably have been different, but his attitude in this interview, at this stage in his career, probably serves his goals just as well, and it's also more interesting to watch.

  • ATTACHIEF | January 10, 2013 10:25 PM

    Daniel, yes, I know, he wanted the interview to be another "QT is such an incredible asset to humanity and this film is amazing" butt-kiss-fest to make him even richer and more smug. But a truly intelligent person would realize that gracefully answering these kinds of questions on your own terms can serve that purpose as well or better, if only he were also capable of doing it.

  • Daniel | January 10, 2013 6:38 PM

    My guess is, for the reasons QT articulates: "This is a commercial for my movie." It's good for him and his movie if he says the things he does want to say, even if he is repeating himself, because it means more positive publicity for the film.

    Tarantino strikes me as a complete lunatic and a bit of a prick, but also an extremely intelligent one and a goddamn hell of a filmmaker. I think we're lucky to have him.

  • Duddi | January 10, 2013 5:47 PMReply

    a) Q.T got pissed off by the provocative question and manners of the journalist
    b) Q.T was high
    c) Candid Camera

    - ...And Who has the right answer ???

  • berk | January 10, 2013 5:46 PMReply

    QT couldn't have used ANY OTHER metaphor than "slave/master"?

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