Something aint clean in the water. The water being Mr Quentin Tarantino’s latest film The Hateful Eight and the “aint clean” referring to the never-ending list of problems I had with this picture. I’ve condensed that long list to just 8 points because firstly who has time and secondly I thought it would be cute. My issues with the film are unfortunate as they overshadow what is otherwise an awesome mystery with a great plot twist. It’s like a post American civil war Murder She Wrote and Samuel L Jackson’s Angela Lansbury.
The title should have alerted me to the fact that this might be a film full of hate, maybe not be something I should be watching in the hopes of being uplifted. Alas I held steadfast to the memory of Olivia Pope and Curtis Taylor Jnr (if you’ve never seen Dream Girls wyd?) riding away into their happily ever after at the end of Django all the while forgetting how problematic that film was.
I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment so I endured The Hateful Eight and thus I bring to you (in no particular order) My 8ful Problems With The Hateful Eight. Please be warned, there are spoilers in this post. Don’t get lost in the sauce and try to blame me.
This film has no business being this long. I take automatic and unfettered offence to any film over 120 minutes. But you know Tarantino, always doing the most, so this film was 3 hours and 7 minutes long. Normally I wouldn’t fuss but there just wasn’t enough substance to justify such a bloated run time. With Inglorious Basterds or Django there were so many different locations and characters, so many places for us to go and see as viewers, but here other than a brief carriage ride at the beginning and a short sojourner to the barn, we’re stuck in Minnie’s Haberdashery with these 8 very questionable people for what seemed to me to be a lifetime.
I understand having an obsession with black men’s penises; I enjoy them from time to time. However, this is the second film I have seen where Tarantino takes time in his script writing and direction to identify the black protagonist’s penis as an instrument to be wielded as weapon or as a prize one must fear losing. In Django after supreme bae Christoph Waltz is killed, Django is bound, hung upside down and threatened with castration and in the Hateful Eight, Major Marquis Warren played by Samuel L Jackson orally rapes a man. At the time when I was watching Django, my heart told my morality to have a seat but my morality did a Rosa Parks and refused to comply as I watched The Hateful Eight in horror. Because suddenly and violently pictures flashed into my mind of Vhing Rhames bent over a barrel in Pulp Fiction gagged and being raped and I said to myself in patois “but wait, Quentin Tarantino head no good.” Translation for the uninitiated amongst us “Quentin Tarantino is unwell.”
I have two brain cells that I like to rub together when it suits me, so I have the mental capacity to understand concepts like “artistic licence” however I also have two eyes and I see a problem here. While I enjoy and consume the images of black men Tarantino creates I do not like this pattern where he uses black masculinity as a plot device. He does not do this to his white protagonists. It is lazy. It is not Quentin Tarantino’s place to write about black masculinity. He needs to stay in his lane. If he wants to positively contribute to the discourse around black masculinity what he needs to do is commission a black man who is well equipped (pun intended) to write from a place of experience about black masculinity.
Do not get stupid about this, I am not saying you have to be a mutant to write X-Men but what I’m saying is marginalised groups should be involved in telling their stories. And Quentin Tarantino continuously writing about black masculinity is problematic because he keeps getting it wrong. It smacks of entitlement and I want it to stop. None of these instances are necessary. They never add anything to the story. Had he left that scene out I never would have finished watching Pulp Fiction thinking “You know what that filming was missing? Some rape. There wasn’t enough rape.” No. Black masculinity is not your expertise, Mr Tarantino. Leave it alone. Please, thank you and amen.
It’s well documented that Samuel L Jackson has not one problem with the use of the word nigger in Django as you can see in this article as far as he’s concerned “If you're going to deal with the language of the time, you deal with the language of the time. And that was the language of the time. I grew up in the South. I heard 'nigger' all my life. I'm not disturbed by it."
Uncle, that’s all well and good, but my problem is his seemingly insatiable desire to write this word over and over and have these actors say it over and over. You shout authenticity, I shout “but why you so pressed to say it though?” Will the film die without it? Would Quentin Tarantino’s last two films have survived without the word being hammered into our skulls?
Without a shadow of a doubt.
And for all you “But black people say nigger all the time” people. Yes we do. And here’s a comprehensive guide by the Prophet Chris Rock about all the times white people are allowed to say it. https://youtu.be/_Tc9xWX3wLE
This word is not important to me. It could die tomorrow and I would be happy to let it rest in peace, but some black people have decided to reclaim the word and use it. That is our right as an oppressed, marginalised group. White and non-black people have every other word in the English language. This one is not for you or your use. Thanks in advance.
Daisy Domergue played by Jennifer Jason Leigh is being taken to be hung and both Major Warren and John “The Hangman” Ruth played by Kurt Russell punch her in the face whenever they feel like she’s talking out of turn or when she does something they don’t like. For what? Again what does this prove? And for the 4 minutes Minnie and her helper Gemma appear in the film, they are swiftly executed in true Tarantino fashion. Just blood and guts everywhere.
There are 4 women in this film, all four women are killed but it is Daisy’s murder that made my stomach revolt and my morality question my membership to the Tarantino Fandom.
Major Warren who has had his penis blown off by a well aimed bullet and Chris Mannix who until very recently in the film called Major all the niggers he could find, put their differences aside to hang Daisy. I laughed. Not because it was funny but because only a man would conjure an image of racism ending and friendship blossoming only once the black man’s penis threat has been eliminated and the men come together to kill the woman. LOL. OK.
When I tell you Chris Mannix does the biggest 180 I’ve ever seen, it might be hyperbole, but it serves my purpose well so let’s go with it. Chris Mannix is played by Walter Goggins, takes an immediate dislike of Major Warren simply because of the colour of his skin. Mannix sits down with this coffin dodger of a manGeneral Sandy Smithers and bemoan their recent defeat in the Civil War and see Major Warren’s freedom is an affront to their delicate white supremacist sensibilities.
I get it, when Mannix almost drinks the coffee that has been poisoned violently killing Ruth, he is shaken, but is he now so shaken to believe the world of a black man who he was only 3 minutes ago wishing death upon? As far as I’m concerned, Major Warren has the most incentive to kill everyone in there. But Mannix and the Major start a friendship of sorts and that perplexes me.
After watching the film and before writing this post, I had to seriously question whether Quentin Tarantino is an ally to our fight for advancement of equality for women and black people?
On October 24th 2015 Tarantino made the following remarks with regards to the ongoing murders of unarmed black people in America while protesting at a Black Lives Matter rally in New York :
“This is not being dealt with in any way at all,” Tarantino said. “That’s why we are out here. If it was being dealt with, then these murdering cops would be in jail or at least be facing charges. When I see murders, I do not stand by. I have to call a murder a murder, and I have to call the murderers the murderers.”
The problem was he made these comments after a New York Police officer was murdered and the NYPD and Police organisations across the country took swift and merciless action against Tarantino, The Hateful Eight and “any of Tarantino’s projects.”
I don’t know Tarantino personally, I would like to and if you have a job, call me boo, but it is my personal opinion that he did not make these comments to get publicity for his film. He doesn’t need to. He’s Tarantino. His body of work speaks for itself. People will watch this film regardless. These comments work against his own self interest alienating people who would otherwise pay to watch his film but whose cognitive dissonance stops them from grasping Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean no other lives matter. I believe Quentin Jerome Tarantino made them because they are facts and it was the right thing to do. In order for institutionalised racism to be brought to its knees we need white people to be involved in the conversation, acknowledge their white privilege and use it in order to help those whose voices go unheard because of the colour of their skin.
It is possible to be more than one thing at a time; Quentin Tarantino is an ally but he’s also problematic af.
Yes. I am. Long ago I came to terms with the fact that I am a dramatic person. It is an art form. I will also call a spade a spade; The Hateful Eight is unsettling.
Yes. I got into a lot of trouble on Twitter when I said that the artists at Charlie Hebdo should be free to make whatever art they want as hateful and as repugnant as it is. And I stand by that to this day.
It is important that artists, writers, painters, poets, sculpters and the like are free to create their art without fear of censorship. But once that’s said and done those artists need to stand up in their big boy knickers and accept the criticism and consequences for their actions. I am against all forms of censorship because who is in charge? How do we police one’s voice? Who monitors this and what standards are we abiding to? Censorship is a quagmire that destroys freedom.
We must create our art and allow spaces where people can say “Fam, that’s racist, you know?” or whatever. Discussions are important because they allow the artist and the viewer both to evolve (or devolve) their views. No one wakes up with all the knowledge and their morality fully formed and functioning perfectly. This is a lie and impossible. Morality and creativity are forever evolving, they are not synonymous and this evolution will happen with or without your consent.
The Hateful Eight is a journey down Misogyny Street after taking a left on Is Quentin Tarantino Ok Boulevard but it’s an important journey I had to take to help me realise, I’m not a fan of Tarantino’s ultra violence but help remind me I do enjoy his storytelling. I love how he shamelessly recycles actors. A good, reliable cast is hard to find and don’t I just know it? The question is: how willing am I to overlook the problematic elements of his craft because I enjoy the narrative of his stories?
Tarantino can stay. For now.
What do you think? Join the conversation in the comments below.
Hop on over to Youtube to watch my award winning drama series Dear Jesus.
Follow me on Twitter: @DanielleDASH