Boycott of Tarantino films distracts from violence

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Quentin Tarantino, award-winning director of films such as “Pulp Fiction” and “Django Unchained” is waging a war of words with the national police union Fraternal Order of Police. The tension is a result of Tarantino’s participation in a RiseUpOctober rally, where he decried police brutality and the unlawful killings committed by members of the force.

“I have to call a murder a murder, and I have to call the murderers the murderers,” Tarantino said at the rally.

The real issue isn’t Tarantino’s support at the rally — it’s the fact that the original problem of police misconduct is now overshadowed by his celebrity presence. A serious and pressing matter is being tangled in the words of a movie director. Instead of critically reflecting on Tarantino’s valid criticism of police brutality, officers are making an ad hominem attack on Tarantino.

In an interview with Bill Maher, Tarantino said he has been misattributed as calling all police officers murderers — a blatant lie and act of slander, according to him. Instead, he was simply stressing the need for police officers who unlawfully kill citizens need to face the full consequences. According to a Washington Post analysis, the daily rate of deaths by police shootings for 2015 is 2.6, more than double the average over the last decade. And when two-thirds of unarmed victims were minorities, any rebuttal is purely advocating for an unequal application of the law.

The legitimacy of Tarantino’s claims did not stop unions for the Los Angeles Police Department and New York Police Department from calling for a general protest of Tarantino’s movies, leading police across the nation to boycott the director’s work, particularly his upcoming film “The Hateful Eight” coming out Dec. 25. Their real intention may be, however, to put off the crucial conversation on police brutality by creating such side-shows.

Following this action, the Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement that seems too strange to be true. On Nov. 5, Executive Director of the union Jim Pasco said the group has a “surprise” in store for Tarantino sometime between now and the release date of “The Hateful Eight.” Pasco said the surprise would hurt Tarantino economically, but wouldn’t involve violence in any way, and that “police officers protect people,” regardless of their actions. Though he didn’t specify what exactly they planned to do, it’s apparent the union is attempting to draw attention to the director and away from the issue at hand.

The police union is setting up a dramatic twist that belongs in one of Tarantino’s feature films. Perhaps the worst thing about this situation is that one has to be repeatedly reminded that this whole debacle was predicated on horrific police brutality, and has now devolved to a war of words.

Tarantino said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that he won’t apologize and does not feel intimidated by the police. He believes that police need to confront police brutality instead of diverting media attention.

As Tarantino refuses to relent to pressure, an apology from the police in any form seems nigh impossible as well. The only course is to wait and see what the surprise turns out to be and if it has any real impact. Unions absolutely have the right to boycott films and take any actions within the law to show their disapproval of Tarantino, but they should not continue to ignore and skirt around the fact that brutality perpetrated by police is only escalating.

Just as police have the right to their actions, so does Tarantino. Tarantino should continue to deny calls for an apology. He is being made into a target by the police, and should also continue to wholeheartedly use that scrutiny to point to the real issue — the rally concerning police misconduct.

Peter Johnson is an undeclared first year. He can be reached at pjohnson2@oxy.edu.