From a fascinating essay on Tarantino by Johann Hari:
“I don’t believe works of art should be ennobling. I don’t believe the heroes should be virtuous, or that bad characters should get their comeuppance. It can show deeply violent and deeply cruel people, and tell us that — as in real life — they can be charismatic and successful and never pay a price for their cruelty. But what it should never do is tell us that human suffering itself is trivial. It should never turn pain into a punch-line…
Not long after 9/11, Tarantino said: “It didn’t affect me because there’s, like, a Hong Kong action movie… called Purple Storm and they work in a whole big thing in the plot that they blow up a skyscraper.” It’s a case-study in atrophy of moral senses: to brag you weren’t moved by the murder of two and half thousand actual people, because you’d already seen it simulated in a movie. Only somebody who has never seen violence — who sees the world as made of celluloid — can respond like this.
Tarantino’s films aren’t even sadistic. Sadists take human suffering seriously; that’s why they enjoy it. No: Tarantino is morally empty, seeing a shoot-out as akin to dancing cheek-to-cheek. He sees violence as nothing. Compare his oeuvre to the work of a genuine cinematic sadist — Alfred Hitchcock — and you see the difference. Precisely because Hitchcock enjoyed inflicting pain, the pain is always authentic, and it is never emptied of its own inner horror.
And yet, and yet… I have to admit that part of me loves Tarantino’s films.”
Posted: August 31, 2009 Leave a Comment