Quentin Tarantino N-Word Video: Django Director Uses Racial Epithet at the Golden Globes

If Quentin Tarantino's life were a movie, it would be titled something like Controversy Unchained or Insensitive Basterds.

Already under major fire for the use of racial epithets in Django Unchained, the famed director then used the N-word almost immediately during a backstage press conference at the 70th Golden Globe Awards. Taking the moment as an opportunity to attack his critics, Tarantino stated, "they think I should soften it, that I should lie, that I should massage" and added, "I would never do that when it comes to my characters."

The Golden Globe winner has made this point on several other occasions, mostly during interviews related to Django. Tarantino previously stated, "personally, I find [the criticism] ridiculous. Because it would be one thing if people are out there saying, 'You use it much more excessively in this movie than it was used in 1858 in Mississippi.' Well, nobody's saying that. And if you're not saying that, you're simply saying I should be lying. I should be watering it down. I should be making it more easy to digest."

When addressing the controversy and criticism he normally faces as a result of this approach to filmmaking, Tarantino once clarified, "not one word of social criticism that's been leveled my way has ever changed one word of any script or any story I tell."

The director also made several other provocative statements at the conference, stating that slavery was still going on in the world — "go to Malaysia" — and likening America's prison system to that very institution. Tarantino stated, "drug laws put so many black males in jails" and argued, "the way private and public prisons trade prisoners back and forth. It's like they are not even hiding it anymore."

This is another point that Tarantino has previously stressed, arguing, "[the war on drugs is] slavery. It's slavery. It is just slavery through and through."

Don Cheadle, who won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy Actor for House of Lies, spoke to the media immediately after Tarantino and stated, "please no [N-word] questions. Black people questions are all right."

This conference by Tarantino is quite problematic for a number of reasons. Since all his arguments about using the N-word have emphasized its contextual propriety within his works, it makes this particular usage seem gratuitous, seeing as how there is no context for the word at a 2013 awards ceremony. As it stands, Tarantino is not only breaking his own rule about only using it in context but is also seemingly stating that it is okay to use the word in everyday life.

Besides, the "it's contextual" excuse is getting a bit stale. When Nicole Kidman and Cameron Bright starred in a movie about a woman's sexual attraction to a little boy, it would have been contextually appropriate to show nudity and possibly contact between both during a bath scene. However, that wouldn't absolve the filmmakers from the moral or legal consequences, so contextual propriety really isn't a valid shield.

Also, it is somewhat ethnocentric to simply label another nation a slave country, for that really is a very serious charge. Plus, the director's assertions regarding the war on drugs or the prison system have an entire history and numerous debates behind them, so perhaps mentioning them so quickly is somewhat simplistic.

Tarantino revels in controversy and does not care for the sensitivities of others, even when they are justified. And while it is true that everything in his movies is a reflection of a particular story's mentality, Tarantino's insistence on repeatedly crafting tales like this is a reflection of his own.


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Abdul R. Siddiqui

Abdul is a graduate of CUNY Baruch, as part of the Macaulay Honors program. He has interned with the New York City Housing Authority, Macaulay, and PolicyMic. He currently contributes to PolicyMic, DramaFever, and NewLogical.

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