Director Quentin Tarantino is pushing back against accusations that he is anti-police following a controversial statement he made during a RiseUpOctober protest last month.
“I’m a human being with a conscience,” Tarantino said at the protest. “If you believe there’s murder going on then you need to rise up and stand up against it. I’m here to say I’m on the side of the murdered.” Police unions seized on the use of the term "murder," branding Tarantino a "cop hater" who "makes a living glorifying crime."The "Pulp Fiction" filmmaker has since been the subject of calls for a boycott from New York, Los Angeles, Houston, New Jersey, Chicago, and Philadelphia police unions. And even his own father has publicly condemned his son's remarks.
"All cops are not murderers. I never said that. I never even implied that," Tarantino told the Los Angeles Times in an exclusive interview published Wednesday. "I do believe that the cops who killed Eric Garner are murderers. I do believe that when Walter Scott was shot in the back in the park eight times by a cop, he was murdered. I do believe Tamir Rice was murdered."
Tarantino says that the rally was the first of its kind that he has ever attended, and he did so because he was invited personally by the organizers. "They had heard some other statements I had made in interviews that they believed were in line with what they were thinking and they talked to me about appearing at the rally and doing my part. I was happy to do so," Tarantino told the LA Times.
The Oscar winner acknowledges the sensitivity of the issue, but also made it clear that police union attacks on him are a distraction from the real issue. "What they're doing is pretty obvious. Instead of dealing with the incidents of police brutality that those people were bringing up, instead of examining the problem of police brutality in this country, better they single me out. And their message is very clear. It's to shut me down. It's to discredit me. It is to intimidate me. It is to shut my mouth, and even more important than that, it is to send a message out to any other prominent person that might feel the need to join that side of the argument," Tarantino said.
Tarantino will be appearing MSNBC's "All In" on Wednesday at 8PM EST to further discuss the backlash.
Meanwhile, he has gained one high-profile defender. His "Django Unchained" leading man Jamie Foxx appeared to defend him during a speech at the Hollywood Film Awards on Sunday. “You are boss — you are absolutely amazing. Keep telling the truth and don’t worry about none of the haters,” Foxx said to an absent Tarantino.
And Forbes columnist Scott Mendelson has argued that the controversy could only fuel excitement for his new film, "The Hateful Eight," which hits theaters on Christmas Day. "In a world where all publicity is good publicity and staying in the news cycle is of grand importance, the continuing outrage over Tarantino’s statements have done little more than to inflate the importance of both the director and the film he is releasing this year," he wrote recently.
Mendelson suggests that "The Hateful Eight" faces an "uphill battle" at the box office against the likes of Jennifer Lawrence's "Joy," Leonardo DiCaprio's "The Revenant," and the likely-blockbuster "Star Wars" film "The Force Awakens." Now, that may change because of the firestorm.
"... No one, but no one outside of the somewhat bubble-ish film community had any reason to talk about "The Hateful Eight." And now they do, over and over again as Tarantino’s protest participation and controversial statements have been met not with relative silence or indifference, but with heated reactions that have only served to keep him and his commentary in the news for over a week," he wrote.
For his part, Tarantino says he is not going to walk back his statements. "I am happy and eager to clarify what I said, compared to what it is they're implying. I did not say anything that is making a cop more of a target than he was before Saturday. I am not saying anything that is putting cops' lives in danger," Tarantino told the LA Times.