I recently saw The Hateful Eight and, as much as I wanted to like this movie, the biggest thing keeping me from doing so is the same thing that has kept me from watching Django Unchained again: the abuse of the word “nigger.” Between the number of times you said it in Pulp Fiction through now, after nearly 25 years, it reminds me of a kid who is just discovering curse words and can’t control himself. He has listened to adults use it and is now trying to find a way to string the words together and roll it off of the tongue. It’s almost a delicious power to have and once one has command over how to use it, it’s potent in conversation. This is what kids growing into adulthood do with pejorative language: they test the boundaries in which they use their words. I and a lot of other people believe that you have worn out your welcome with the word “nigger” in your movies.
Credit to Gawker for putting this clip together
I have to admit, while Pulp Fiction was one of the first movies I saw and probably my first exposure to you, while I thought your scene about “Dead nigger storage” back then was hilarious, (in our 20’s nearly everything coarse is funny) given the situation in the movie, it was uncomfortable. Then there was Jackie Brown and I knew then that there was a problem. What I don’t get about you is that while you have done your best to be an advocate for people of color especially in light of cops killing us on the streets, I am totally stymied that you are so comfortable with creating movies that liberally sprinkles the word in like salt on popcorn.
The kicker in all of this is you claim that the excessive use of the word in Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight was due to the fact that these are period pieces and you wanted to emulate the language of the time. Now while neither you nor I were around 200 years ago, I don’t think knocking the audience over the head with such an abuse of one word is necessary to tell a story. Worse yet is watching your actors revel in that like it was a word orgy. Frankly it was disgusting and it’s happening again.
On the flip side of that, I did see Inglorious Basterds. You know what I didn’t hear however? I didn’t hear any excessive usage of derogatory language describing Germans or Jews. Oh sure, Nazties was funny. But I didn’t hear an excess of words like stein, Hun, kike, firewoods, Jerry, sheeny, Fritz, gargamels, kraut or any other hurtful words to describe both peoples in this movie. To be clear, yes, some of those terms were mention in the movie but none were abused as much as the word “nigger” in your last 2 movies.
An article by Gawker clearly cuts out why it’s just wrong that you keep abusing a word for a people that take offense to it:
Tarantino’s claim of his inherent blackness was undermined by his narrow definition of “nigger,” one that doesn’t actually account for the word’s status as a racist epithet. As a non-black, he couldn’t truly know what it was like to be degraded by that word. His perspective is blindingly white and downright fantastical. Spike Lee seemed to have a good grip on Tarantino’s heroic nigger badass fantasy when in 2000, he told the Vancouver Province, “His whole deal with African Americans is through black exploitation films. His knowledge of black people is based on black exploitation films from the early ‘70s.”
Quentin, we seriously need for you to take the hint. You need to stop abusing the word “nigger” and making excuses for it. Just because you won an Oscar for Django Unchained does not give you carte blanche to continue to insult us. You keep trying to justify it by saying things like “it’s the truth of the characters and it’s the truth of the time period.” But why keep ignoring people and alienating audiences? When it comes to ignoring concerns about the word “nigger” you were also quoted as saying,
“It’s my job to ignore them (social critics) and to not pay attention to them because I believe in what I’m doing wholeheartedly and passionately, and it’s my job to just get on with it…”
This is one of those times when keeping it real goes so wrong and you blatantly refuse to catch it. In my opinion, you can’t be an advocate for me if you still insist on mentally abusing us by using hurtful language that degrades who people of color are and worse, making a profit off of it. If there ever was a reason right now, to think about why you should pay attention to why people hate what you are doing is just that. How do you sleep at night knowing that you profited off of “niggers;” the very people you claim you advocate for?
When we, as a collective society, look back on your career years from now, I will look at you not as a brilliant storyteller, but a flawed man who was a contradiction of what he wanted to be to people of color and what he turned out to be.