Armes à feu: Quand Hollywood dénonce la violence qu’il a lui-même semée (Who needs the NRA when you’ve got Hollywood ?)

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Puisqu’ils ont semé du vent, ils moissonneront la tempête. Osée 8: 7
Si toutes les valeurs sont relatives, alors le cannibalisme est une affaire de goût. Leo Strauss
I’m not too proud of Hollywood these days with the immorality that is shown in pictures, and the vulgarity. I just have a feeling that maybe Hollywood needs some outsiders to bring back decency and good taste to some of the pictures that are being made. Ronald Reagan (1989)
Les images violentes accroissent (…) la vulnérabilité des enfants à la violence des groupes dans la mesure où ceux qui les ont vues éprouvent de sensations, des émotions et des états du corps difficiles à maîtriser et donc angoissants, et qu’ils sont donc particulièrement tentés d’adopter les repères que leur propose leur groupe d’appartenance, voire le leader de ce groupe (…) et rendent la violence ‘ordinaire’ en désensibilisant les spectateurs à ses effets, et elles augmentent la peur d’être soi-même victime de violences, même s’il n’y a pas de risque objectif à cela. Serge Tisseron
Un des jeunes tueurs de Littleton, Eric Harris, avait passé une centaine d’heures à reprogrammer le jeu vidéo Doom pour que tout corresponde plus ou moins à son école (…) [jusqu’à] « incorporer le plan du rez-de-chaussée du lycée Columbine dans son jeu. En outre, il l’avait reprogrammé pour fonctionner « en mode Dieu », où le joueur est invincible. (…) Le 1er décembre 1997, à Paducah (Kentucky), Michael Carneal, alors âgé de 14 ans et armé de six pistolets, avait attendu la fin de la session quotidienne de prière à l’école pour tuer trois fillettes (…) et d’en blesser cinq autres. Lorsque la police a saisi son ordinateur, on a découvert qu’il en était un usager assidu, recherchant souvent sur Internet les films obscènes et violents. Parmi ses favoris, Basketball Diaries et Tueurs nés, film qui a influencé aussi les tueurs de Littleton. (…) En examinant l’ordinateur de Michael Carneal, la police a également découvert qu’il était un passionné de Doom, le fameux jeu qui consiste pour l’essentiel à passer rapidement d’une cible à l’autre et à tirer sur ses « ennemis » en visant surtout la tête. Le jeune Carneal, qui n’avait jamais utilisé d’arme auparavant, a réussi à toucher huit personnes, cinq à la tête, trois à la poitrine, avec seulement huit balles – un exploit considérable même pour un tireur bien entraîné. (…) Le colonel David Grossman, psychologue militaire, qui donne des cours sur la psychologie du meurtre à des Bérets verts et des agents fédéraux, est un témoin-expert dans ce procès. Il fait remarquer que les jeux vidéos consistant à viser et à tirer ont le même effet que les techniques d’entraînement militaire utilisées pour amener le soldat à surmonter son aversion à tuer. Selon lui, ces jeux sont encore plus efficaces que les exercices d’entraînement militaire, si bien que les Marines se sont procurés une version de « Doom » pour entraîner leurs soldats.  Helga Zepp-LaRouche
More ink equals more blood,  newspaper coverage of terrorist incidents leads directly to more attacks. It’s a macabre example of win-win in what economists call a « common-interest game. Both the media and terrorists benefit from terrorist incidents, » their study contends. Terrorists get free publicity for themselves and their cause. The media, meanwhile, make money « as reports of terror attacks increase newspaper sales and the number of television viewers ». Bruno S. Frey (University of Zurich) et Dominic Rohner (Cambridge)
Nous avons constaté que le sport était la religion moderne du monde occidental. Nous savions que les publics anglais et américain assis devant leur poste de télévision ne regarderaient pas un programme exposant le sort des Palestiniens s’il y avait une manifestation sportive sur une autre chaîne. Nous avons donc décidé de nous servir des Jeux olympiques, cérémonie la plus sacrée de cette religion, pour obliger le monde à faire attention à nous. Nous avons offert des sacrifices humains à vos dieux du sport et de la télévision et ils ont répondu à nos prières. Terroriste palestinien (Jeux olympiques de Munich, 1972)
Kidnapper des personnages célèbres pour leurs activités artistiques, sportives ou autres et qui n’ont pas exprimé d’opinions politiques peut vraisemblablement constituer une forme de propagande favorable aux révolutionnaires. ( …) Les médias modernes, par le simple fait qu’ils publient ce que font les révolutionnaires, sont d’importants instruments de propagande. La guerre des nerfs, ou guerre psychologique, est une technique de combat reposant sur l’emploi direct ou indirect des médias de masse.( …) Les attaques de banques, les embuscades, les désertions et les détournements d’armes, l’aide à l’évasion de prisonniers, les exécutions, les enlèvements, les sabotages, les actes terroristes et la guerre des nerfs sont des exemples. Les détournements d’avions en vol, les attaques et les prises de navires et de trains par les guérilleros peuvent également ne viser qu’à des effets de propagande. Carlos Marighela (« Minimanuel de guerilla urbaine », 1969)
Le discours de l’excuse s’est alors trouvé survalorisé, les prises de position normatives ont été rejetées comme politiquement incorrectes et les policiers ont fait office de boucs émissaires. Lucienne Bui Trong
The reality of the job (…) is far less glamorous. (…) As crime has fallen across America since the 1990s, policing has shifted more towards social work than the drama seen on TV. Police culture, however, has not caught up. (…) And as Ms Rahr admits, if you try to recruit cops by telling them they are social workers, fewer may apply. At least part of the glamour of the job is the promise that you get the chance to use violence against bad people in a way that ordinary civilians never can, except in video games. The Economist
La notion des années 1960 selon laquelle les mouvements sociaux seraient une réponse légitime à une injustice sociale a créé l’impression d’une certaine rationalité des émeutes. Les foules ne sont toutefois pas des entités rationnelles. Les émeutes de Londres ont démontré l’existence d’un manque de pensée rationnelle des événements du fait de leur caractère tout à fait spontané et irrationnel. Les pillards ont pillé pour piller et pour beaucoup ce n’était pas nécessairement l’effet d’un sentiment d’injustice. Au cours des émeutes danoises il y avait d’un côté un sens de la rationalité dans les manifestations de jeunes dans la mesure où ils étaient mus par une motivation politique. Cependant, les autres jeunes qui n’étaient pas normalement affiliés à  l’organisation « Ungdomshuset » se sont impliqués dans le  conflit et ont participé aux émeutes sans en partager les objectifs. Ils étaient là pour s’amuser et l’adrénaline a fait le reste. Les émeutes peuvent assumer une dynamique auto-entretenue qui n’est pas mue par des motifs rationnels. Lorsque les individus forment une foule, ils peuvent devenir irrationnels et être motivés par des émotions que génèrent  les émeutes elles-mêmes. L’aspect intéressant des émeutes  de Londres était de confirmer l’inutilité du traitement du phénomène de foule par  une stratégie de communication. La méthode rationnelle n’aboutit à rien contrairement à la forme traditionnelle de confinement. Cela montre bien qu’à certains moments, la solution efficace est de ne pas gérer les foules par le dialogue. Christian Borch
Why manufacture guns that go off when you drop them?. Kids play with guns. We put childproof safety caps on aspirin bottles because if kids take too many aspirin, they get sick. You could blame the parents for gun accidents but, as with aspirin, manufacturers could help. It’s very easy to make childproof guns. »The gun-control debate often makes it look like there are only two options: either take away people’s guns, or not. That’s not it at all. This is more like a harm-reduction strategy. Recognize that there are a lot of guns out there, and that reasonable gun policies can minimize the harm that comes from them. (…) It’s not as if a 19-year-old in the United States is more evil than a 19-year-old in Australia— there’s no evidence for that. But a 19-year-old in America can very easily get a pistol. That’s very hard to do in Australia. So when there’s a bar fight in Australia, somebody gets punched out or hit with a beer bottle. Here, they get shot. (…) What guns do is make crimes lethal. They also make suicide attempts lethal: about 60 percent of suicides in America involve guns. If you try to kill yourself with drugs, there’s a 2 to 3 percent chance of dying. With guns, the chance is 90 percent. (…) In Wyoming it’s hard to have big gang fights. Do you call up the other gang and drive 30 miles to meet up? (…) Handguns are the crime guns. They are the ones you can conceal, the guns you take to go rob somebody. You don’t mug people at rifle-point. (…) We have done four surveys on self-defense gun use. And one thing we know for sure is that there’s a lot more criminal gun use than self-defense gun use. And even when people say they pulled their gun in ‘self-defense,’ it usually turns out that there was just an escalating argument —at some point, people feel afraid and draw guns. (…) How often might you appropriately use a gun in self-defense?.  Answer: zero to once in a lifetime. How about inappropriately —because you were tired, afraid, or drunk in a confrontational situation? There are lots and lots of chances. When your anger takes over, it’s nice not to have guns lying around. (…)  « A determined criminal will always get a gun » (…) Yes, but a lot of people aren’t that determined. I’m sure there are some determined yacht buyers out there, but when you raise the price high enough, a lot of them stop buying yachts. (…)  « You can go to a gun show, flea market, the Internet, or classified ads and buy a gun— no questions asked. (…) For decades, there were no plaintiff victories beyond the appellate level » in the tobacco litigation. Reasonable suits might allege things that the manufacturers could do to make guns safer. (…) People say, ‘Teach kids not to pull the trigger,’ but kids will do it. (…)  You could make it hard to remove a serial number. You won’t eliminate the problem, but you can decrease it. (…) You can arrest speeders, but you can also put speed bumps or chicanes [curved, alternating-side curb extensions] into residential areas where children play….Just as…you can revoke the license of bad doctors, but also build [a medical] environment in which it’s harder to make an error, and the mistakes made are not serious or fatal. (…) We know what works. We know that speed kills, so if you raise speed limits, expect to see more highway deaths. Motorcycle helmets work; seat belts work. Car inspections and driver education have no effect. Right-on-red laws mean more pedestrians hit by cars. (…) The goal at home and abroad is to make sure the guns we have are safe, and that people use them properly. We’d like to create a world where it’s hard to make mistakes with guns— and when you do make a mistake, it’s not a terrible thing.  David Hemenway (Harvard)
On est des Arabes et des Noirs, faut qu’on se soutienne. (…) Les juifs sont les rois car ils bouffent l’argent de l’Etat et, moi, comme je suis noir, je suis considéré comme un esclave par l’Etat. Yousouf Fofana (février 2006)
On est en guerre contre ce pays (…) Ce pays, on le quittera quand il nous rendra ce qu’on nous doit. Tribu Ka (novembre 2006)
Je suis un être humain doué de conscience. Si vous estimez que des meurtres sont commis, alors vous devez vous insurger contre cet état de fait. Je suis ici pour dire que je suis du côté de ceux qui ont été assassinés. Quentin Tarantino
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. Tarantino
Monsieur Tarantino gagne bien sa vie grâce à ses films, diffusant de la violence dans la société, et montrant du respect pour des criminels. Et maintenant, on se rend compte qu’il déteste les flics. La rhétorique haineuse déshumanise la police et encourage les attaques à notre encontre.  Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5
Le réalisateur Quentin Tarantino a pris part d’une façon irresponsable et totalement inacceptable à ce qui s’est passé le week-end dernier à New York en assimilant les policiers à des meutriers. Los Angeles Police Protective League
Ce n’est pas étonnant que quelqu’un qui gagne sa vie en glorifiant le crime et la violence déteste les policiers. Les officiers de police que Quentin Tarantino appelle des “meurtriers” ne vivent pas dans l’une de ses fictions dépravées conçues pour le grand écran. Ils prennent des risques et doivent parfois même sacrifier leur vie, afin de protéger les communautés des vrais crimes. Patrick Lynch (syndicaliste policier de New York)
Les syndicats de policiers de New York et de Los Angeles s’insurgent contre les propos tenus par le réalisateur hollywoodien lors d’une récente manifestation contre les violences policières. “Le plus grand syndicat de police de Los Angeles soutient l’appel au boycott des films de Quentin Tarantino lancé par le NYPD [le département de police de New York]”, rapporte le Los Angeles Times. Lors d’une manifestation contre les violences policières organisée samedi 24 octobre dans la Grosse Pomme, le réalisateur a en effet déclaré : “Je suis un être humain doué de conscience. Si vous estimez que des meurtres sont commis, alors vous devez vous insurger contre cet état de fait. Je suis ici pour dire que je suis du côté de ceux qui ont été assassinés.” Cette phrase, prononcée quelques jours seulement “après la mort d’un officier de police du NYPD lors d’une course-poursuite d’un suspect dans le quartier de East Harlem” a mis le feu aux poudres, souligne le quotidien de Los Angeles. Courrier international
Le nouveau film de Spike Lee, Chiraq, suscite la polémique à Chicago, où le tournage vient de débuter. En cause: le titre. Cette expression, contraction de «Chicago» et d’«Iraq», a été inventée par des rappeurs locaux en référence à une zone du sud de la ville où la violence par armes à feu prolifère. Plusieurs hommes politiques ont déjà dénoncé ce titre qui risque, selon eux, d’offrir une vision négative de la ville des vents. Le maire de Chicago Rahm Emanuel (Parti démocrate) a contesté le mois dernier le titre, indiquant que la ville devrait avoir son mot à dire après la réduction fiscale de 3 millions de dollars accordée au long métrage. Les Chicagoans, confrontés chaque jour à la violence, voient eux aussi d’un mauvais œil le tournage, rapporte le New York Times. Janelle Rush, une étudiante de 24 ans citée par le quotidien américain, n’apprécie pas le titre, mais pense «qu’il serait judicieux de montrer les quartiers de la ville que les médias ne montrent pas». Elle espère cependant «que[ce film] pourra renverser la tendance et présenter [Chicago] sous un aspect positif. Pour révéler qu’il y a autre chose que la violence par armes à feu». Le Figaro
Every time a Quentin Tarantino film comes out, his critics attack him with a vehemence as vivid as his on-screen carnage. Sure, he’s a cinematic virtuoso, but that only fuels their rancor. He’s so talented; now will he please grow up? We hope not. So much of today’s entertainment is either infantile or geriatric: the comedies about farts and body parts (the cult of Adam Sandler) and the pensive portraits of sensitive misfits (the curse of Sundance). In this dank atmosphere, Tarantino’s teen-boy fixations — men with gigantic guns, beautiful gals with mean mouths — are a real tonic. At 42, he still has a movie love as convulsive as a schoolboy’s crush, still has a young man’s bravado. He’ll attempt anything, from the ricocheting narratives of Pulp Fiction to the single-plot, two-part Kill Bill. And since he’s got gifts to match his guts, he can pull off these cool stunts. Who else even tries? Some of the best people, actually, all of whom have benefited from Tarantino’s trailblazing. Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s movies are as depressive as Tarantino’s are manic, but he shares Q.T.’s fondness for subverting structure and for dialogue as ornate as an aria. Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma) brandishes a Tarantinish expertise in trash culture. Robert Rodriguez, a frequent collaborator, has paid lavish homage to Pulp Fiction in his three-story Sin City, part of which Q.T. directed. The bad news with Tarantino is that each successive film takes longer (two years, three, six) to produce — and that he’s threatened to retire before he’s 60. « I’m not going to be this old guy that keeps cranking them out, » he has said. In that case, Q.T., crank ’em out faster, right now. The world needs lots more movies from this incorrigible, irreplaceable adolescent. Richard Corliss (Time)
Quentin Tarantino has been named the most-studied director in the UK. A survey of 17 academics by the recently-relaunched PureMovies.co.uk film website found that the controversial director had been referenced more than any other in the essays and dissertations marked over the last five years. (…) Head of Film Studies at Uxbridge College Dr Garth Twa said: « It’s no surprise. Tarantino is visceral, accessible, and students new to film studies have an immediate handle on visual pleasure. What is great about Tarantino is that he can serve as a gateway to appreciate everything from the French New Wave to genre studies to gender representation in film. Digital spy
Tarantino’s films have garnered both critical and commercial success. He has received many industry awards, including two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two BAFTA Awards and the Palme d’Or, and has been nominated for an Emmy and a Grammy. He was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time in 2005. Filmmaker and historian Peter Bogdanovich has called him « the single most influential director of his generation ». Wikipedia
I think it’s absolutely not only appropriate, but overdue, to have a dialogue » about violence on screen When I was driving along the street the other day in L.A., I saw two billboards where guns were featured prominently … with a pleasant, happy-looking young couple…. My thought was: ‘Does my industry think guns will help sell tickets? Robert Redford
Reservoir Dogs est un film de gangsters américain réalisé par Quentin Tarantino et sorti en 1992. Il décrit une bande de truands et les événements qui surviennent avant et après un braquage raté. (…) Dans la planque, Pink et White discutent ensuite du comportement de psychopathe de Blonde, qui a tué plusieurs civils. Pink s’oppose ensuite à la volonté de White d’emmener Orange à l’hôpital et les deux hommes, à bout de nerfs, finissent par se braquer mutuellement, Blonde faisant son apparition à ce moment-là. Il les informe qu’Eddie Cabot est en route pour les rejoindre, puis qu’il a réussi à capturer un policier. (…) Tandis que les trois hommes interrogent le policier, Eddie Cabot arrive et, persuadé que personne ne les a balancés, s’emporte contre les gangsters et demande à White et à Pink de le suivre jusqu’à l’endroit où ce dernier a caché les diamants, laissant Blonde avec le policier et Orange, évanoui et se vidant de son sang. (…)  Blonde met la radio et, dansant sur Stuck in the Middle with You de Stealers Wheel, se met à torturer le policier pour le plaisir : il lui coupe une oreille au rasoir, l’asperge d’essence et s’apprête à le faire brûler vif quand Orange, sorti de sa torpeur, dégaine son pistolet et vide son chargeur sur Blonde. Wikipedia
The thing that I am really proud of in the torture scene in Dogs with Mr. Blonde, Michael Madsen, is the fact that it’s truly funny up until the point that he cuts the cop’s ear off. While he’s up there doing that little dance to “Stuck in the Middle With You,” I pretty much defy anybody to watch and not enjoy it. He’s enjoyable at it, you know? He’s cool. And then when he starts cutting the ear off, that’s not played for laughs. The cop’s pain is not played like one big joke, it’s played for real. And then after that when he makes a joke, when he starts talking in the ear, that gets you laughing again. So now you’ve got his coolness and his dance, the joke of talking into the ear and the cop’s pain, they’re all tied up together. And that’s why I think that scene caused such a sensation, because you don’t know how you’re supposed to feel when you see it. Quentin Tarentino
I do think it’s a cultural catharsis, and it’s a cinematic catharsis. Even — it can even be good for the soul, actually. I mean, not to sound like a brute, but one of the things though that I actually think can be a drag for a whole lot of people about watching a movie about, either dealing with slavery or dealing with the Holocaust, is just, it’s just going to be pain, pain and more pain. And at some point, all those Holocaust TV movies — it’s like, ‘God, I just can’t watch another one of these.’ But to actually take an action story and put it in that kind of backdrop where slavery or the pain of World War II is the backdrop of an exciting adventure story — that can be something else. And then in my adventure story, I can have the people who are historically portrayed as the victims be the victors and the avengers. Tarantino
What happened during slavery times is a thousand times worse than [what] I show. So if I were to show it a thousand times worse, to me, that wouldn’t be exploitative, that would just be how it is. If you can’t take it, you can’t take it. (…) Now, I wasn’t trying to do a Schindler’s List you-are-there-under-the-barbed-wire-of-Auschwitz. I wanted the film to be more entertaining than that. … But there’s two types of violence in this film: There’s the brutal reality that slaves lived under for … 245 years, and then there’s the violence of Django’s retribution. And that’s movie violence, and that’s fun and that’s cool, and that’s really enjoyable and kind of what you’re waiting for. (…) The only thing that I’ve ever watched in a movie that I wished I’d never seen is real-life animal death or real-life insect death in a movie. That’s absolutely, positively where I draw the line. And a lot of European and Asian movies do that, and we even did that in America for a little bit of time. … I don’t like seeing animals murdered on screen. Movies are about make-believe. … I don’t think there’s any place in a movie for real death. (…)There haven’t been that many slave narratives in the last 40 years of cinema, and usually when there are, they’re usually done on television, and for the most part … they’re historical movies, like history with a capital H. Basically, ‘This happened, then this happened, then that happened, then this happened.’ And that can be fine, well enough, but for the most part they keep you at arm’s length dramatically. (…) There haven’t been that many slave narratives in the last 40 years of cinema, and usually when there are, they’re usually done on television, and for the most part … they’re historical movies, like history with a capital H. Basically, ‘This happened, then this happened, then that happened, then this happened.’ And that can be fine, well enough, but for the most part they keep you at arm’s length dramatically. Because also there is this kind of level of good taste that they’re trying to deal with … and frankly oftentimes they just feel like dusty textbooks just barely dramatized. (…) I like the idea of telling these stories and taking stories that oftentimes — if played out in the way that they’re normally played out — just end up becoming soul-deadening, because you’re just watching victimization all the time. And now you get a chance to put a spin on it and actually take a slave character and give him a heroic journey, make him heroic, make him give his payback, and actually show this epic journey and give it the kind of folkloric tale that it deserves — the kind of grand-opera stage it deserves. (…) The Westerns of the ’50s definitely have an Eisenhower, birth of suburbia and plentiful times aspect to them. America started little by little catching up with its racist past by the ’50s, at the very, very beginning of [that decade], and that started being reflected in Westerns. Consequently, the late ’60s have a very Vietnam vibe to the Westerns, leading into the ’70s. And by the mid-’70s, you know, most of the Westerns literally could be called ‘Watergate Westerns,’ because it was about disillusionment and tearing down the myths that we have spent so much time building up. Quentin Tarantino
I just think you know there’s violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers. It’s a western. Give me a break. Quentin Tarantino
Les films traitant de l’Holocauste représentent toujours les juifs comme des victimes. Je connais cette histoire. Je veux voir quelque chose de différent. Je veux voir des Allemands qui craignent les juifs. Ne tombons pas dans le misérabilisme et faisons plutôt un film d’action fun. Quentin Tarantino
Pourquoi me condamnerait-on ? Parce que j’étais trop brutal avec les nazis ? Quentin Tarantino
J’avais envie que Django Unchained traite du voyage initiatique de mon personnage et que l’esclavagisme n’apparaisse qu’en toile de fond. Pour moi, l’histoire avait plus de sens, était plus puissante, si elle était présentée à travers un genre comme le western spaghetti qui permet l’aventure et une forme d’excitation absente des films historiques. Quentin Tarantino
Due to the terrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, and out of honour and respect for the families of the victims whose lives were senselessly taken, we are postponing the Pittsburgh premiere of Jack Reacher. Our hearts go out to all those who lost loved ones. Reacher, which stars Tom Cruise, features a sniper attack. Spokesman for Paramount Pictures
Ainsi que le veut le genre du western, souvent comparé à la tragédie grecque, les grands sentiments sont là – l’amour et la haine –, mais le mélange est saugrenu, exorbitant, selon les principes de l’esthétique kitsch postmoderne, qui offre toutes les émotions possibles juxtaposées, comme les produits variés dans un supermarché. Car la signature de Tarantino promet une violence excessive, « gratuite », comme elle a été souvent définie, conjuguée à une ambition morale qui se pare d’amoralité (ou vice versa) : les bons sentiments politiquement corrects et les mauvais sentiments politiquement incorrects sont malaxés dans l’effervescence des images, de l’intrigue, des dialogues. Et, comme dans le style postmoderne, les passions tragiques et le sentimentalisme mélodramatique sont combinés au plaisir de la comédie et de la farce : la caricature des personnages méprisables – tel le propriétaire de Candyland (!), Calvin, homme cruel et sanguinaire, passionné de lutte Mandingo – provoque le rire plus que l’indignation, et une ironie délicieuse émane de l’adorable docteur Schultz (Christoph Waltz), chasseur de primes, anti-esclavagiste convaincu, qui fait le mal pour le bien. Quant aux mauvais sentiments, au langage obscène, à la profusion du terme « nigger », ils correspondent à ce que Tarantino adore et ce sur quoi on n’arrête pas de l’interroger : une brutalité extrême qui indique que, pour lui, le cinéma n’a pas grand-chose à voir avec la réalité du monde et de ses malheurs, mais avec l’infinie réalité des images filmiques, inséparables des armes à feu, assaisonnées de conversations qui attrapent au vol des débris de discours politico-sociaux contemporains, que ce soit la misère des non-salariés, comme dans la conversation initiale de « Reservoir Dogs » (1992), ou le nazisme dans « Inglorious Basterds » (2009), ou le racisme américain dans ce dernier film. Le mixage des émotions ne fait qu’exalter l’impureté caractéristique des arts et du cinéma en particulier, où règnent l’adaptation, l’inspiration, la citation, le remake, l’hommage à une œuvre du passé, voire le pillage. Sans parler du va-et-vient le plus composite entre l’image filmique et la bande-son, cher à ces réalisateurs qui, depuis les années 1960, sont imbus de musique pop. (…) Un bric-à-brac de genres, sous-genres et contre-genres chante la gloire des œuvres populaires, dans le bruit des lames de couteau et des armes à feu, où l’on tue comme on mange des cacahuètes, dans le rythme vertigineux de l’action et des dialogues interminables, dans la filiation des « Trois Mousquetaires », œuvre qui orne la bibliothèque de Calvin Candie. On comprend la différence entre le cinéphile et le geek : le populaire absolu du western de Tarantino sorti en France en janvier 2013, contrairement aux « westerns » urbains de Scorsese dans les années 1970 ou au western mystique « Dead Man » (1995) de Jim Jarmusch, n’est pas profond. Mais, divertissement, pure surface, il surfe sur les choses et les idées, comme les accents — allemand ou du Sud — colorent les voix des acteurs, ou les effets spéciaux, les décors et les gros plans style télé de « Django Unchained » frappent les yeux et les esprits le temps d’un éclair. On peut regretter la pensée de la caméra et la cruelle intensité existentielle de « Reservoir Dogs », mais on a du plaisir et on est gagné par le bonheur des acteurs et du metteur en scène s’adonnant à fond à cette activité inépuisable chez les êtres humains : faire semblant. Patrizia Lombardo (Professeur de littérature et de cinéma)
Tarantino a définitivement fait taire les accusations à l’encontre de ses films jugés fun, cool, mais vides et inconséquents, en s’engageant dans ce qu’il nomme « une trilogie politique et historique sur l’oppression », commencée en 2009 avec « Inglourious Basterds ». L’accusation d’esthétisation de la violence, devenue un objet de spectacle gratuit, décontextualisé de toute mise en perspective morale ou politique, semble certes tomber en désuétude derrière le choix récent de sujets politiques sensibles – les Juifs durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale et l’esclavage afro-américain. Mais, le tournant en apparence politique que prend le cinéma de Tarantino cache une violence tout autant injustifiée qui mérite d’être réinterrogée. (…) Depuis « Kill Bill », on peut résumer l’ensemble des films de Tarantino à des récits de vengeance, thème de prédilection du cinéaste. Chacun des films use d’un processus de justification souvent simpliste et conservateur (..) Que la vengeance relève de motivations personnelles ou plus universelles, elle semble ainsi perdre de son caractère gratuit, sous couvert d’un argumentaire en surface politisant bien rodé. Le premier volet de la « trilogie de l’oppression », « Inglourious Basterds », vient à première vue satisfaire un fantasme de revanche contre les plus grands méchants désignés par l’histoire de l’humanité. La violence contre les nazis serait ici une juste rétribution. Eli Roth, réalisateur ultra-violent de la série « Hostel », décrit ainsi le film comme du « porno kasher » : « ça relève presque d’une satisfaction sexuelle profonde de vouloir tuer des nazis, d’un orgasme presque. Mon personnage tue des nazis. Je peux regarder ça en boucle ». Lawrence Bender, le producteur, déclare à Tarantino : « en tant que membre de la communauté juive, je te remercie, parce que ce film est un putain de rêve pour les juifs ». Pour défendre la violence de son film, le cinéaste explique lui-même avoir voulu rompre avec les traditions politiquement correctes (…) Ce choix esthétique met le sujet historique au second plan et vient prouver implicitement qu’il n’a aucune perspective morale – ceci expliquant les nombreuses accusations de révisionnisme à l’encontre du film. Lorsqu’un journaliste lui fait d’ailleurs remarquer que la violence excessive contre les nazis puisse offenser certains spectateurs, Tarantino lui répond avec une désinvolture déconcertante : « Pourquoi me condamnerait-on ? Parce que j’étais trop brutal avec les nazis ? ». « Django Unchained » est donc une réponse évidente à « Inglourious Basterds ». À nouveau, le sujet politique de fond, l’esclavage américain, semble évincé, bien qu’étant présenté comme l’argument promotionnel premier des discours de Tarantino qui répète sans hésiter qu’il a la capacité et la légitimité de faire un film sur ce sujet. (…)  Tarantino pense pourtant réaliser le film sur l’esclavage « que l’Amérique n’a jamais voulu faire parce qu’elle en a honte ». Dans le fond, l’idéologie et la réflexion politique intéresse peu Tarantino. L’esclavage est une nouvelle configuration de ses récits de vengeance, une nouvelle exploration d’un genre cinématographique, ici le western spaghetti.  À nouveau l’argument du fun, de l’excitation, vient secondariser le sujet politique. Tarantino préfère dédramatiser son propos au risque de le décontextualiser. La vengeance de Django ne semble d’ailleurs pas animée de motivations politiques. Il fait preuve de cruauté aussi bien en massacrant les oppresseurs blancs, qu’en humiliant d’autres esclaves noirs. Le film se termine sur la mort sadique par Django du traitre noir, devenu une caricature de l’oncle Tom, ami des blancs. Devenu à son tour l’opprimé oppresseur, Django s’enfuit victorieux du massacre final, paradoxalement en endossant fièrement le costume de M. Candie, le négrier monstrueux qu’il a sévèrement corrigé. L’usage de la violence était déjà tout autant problématique à la fin d’ »Inglourious Basterds ». Durant l’Opération Kino, les nazis nous sont d’abord présentés comme un public extatique devant la violence des images de leur film de propagande. Mais dans un effet de renversement, c’est ensuite les Basterds et Shoshanna qui nous sont présentés dans le même rôle du public jouissant de la violence du spectacle. Les « Basterds » transforment d’ailleurs rapidement leur croisade, non en leçon morale d’humanité, mais plutôt en spectacle trivial, se moquant sans impunité des soldats allemands. En décontextualisant idéologiquement les sujets politiques de fond, Tarantino facilite en un sens la consommation de son cinéma, au profit d’un plaisir plus immédiat avec ses spectateurs, dénué de toute moralisation. Mais il propose dans le même temps une vision réductrice, fétichisée, simplifiant souvent l’Histoire à l’histoire du cinéma. Cela peut paraître cool de citer des discours transgressifs sur la violence mais, sur le mode de la fétichisation, Tarantino occulte tout l’arrière-plan historique. Célia Sauvage
One reason slave owners wouldn’t have pitted their slaves against each other in such a way is strictly economic. Slavery was built upon money, and the fortune to be made for owners was in buying, selling, and working them, not in sending them out to fight at the risk of death. David Blight (Yale)
Slaves were sometimes sent to fight for their owners; it just wasn’t to the death. Tom Molineaux was a Virginia slave who won his freedom—and, for his owner, $100,000—after winning a match against another slave. He went on to become the first black American to compete for the heavyweight championship when he fought the white champion Tom Cribb in England in 1810. (He lost.) According to Frederick Douglass, wrestling and boxing for sport, like festivals around holidays, were “among the most effective means in the hands of the slaveholder in keeping down the spirit of insurrection.” Aisha Harris
My area of expertise is slavery, Civil War, and reconstruction and I have never encountered something like that. It was rumored to have occurred. I don’t know that it was called Mandingo Fighting, however, but there were all sorts of things going on in the South pitting people against one another. To the death, I’ve never encountered anything like that, no. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen in some backwater area, but I’ve never seen any evidence of it. (…) It’s a stretch because enslaved people are property, and people don’t want to lose their property unless they’re being reimbursed for it. It would seem odd to me that someone would allow his enslaved laborer to fight to the death because someone like that would cost them a lot of money. But then it’s a gambling enterprise so maybe someone would be willing to do that. I’ve looked at slave narratives and I’ve never seen something like that in slave narratives. Edna Greene Medford (Howard University)
It’s the “new sadism” in cinema – the wave of films in which violence is graphic, bloody but always underpinned by irony or gallows humour. There is something disconcerting about sitting in a crowded cinema as an audience guffaws at the latest garroting or falls about in hysterics as someone is beheaded or has a limb lopped off. Many recent movies squeeze the comedy out of what would normally seem like horrific acts of bloodletting. (…)  In Quentin Tarantino’s films, the violence, torture and bloodletting sit side by side with wisecracking dialogue and moments of slapstick. His latest, Django Unchained, features whippings, brutal wrestling matches and one scene in which dogs rip a slave to pieces. We know, though, that Tarantino’s tongue is in his cheek. Scenes that would be very hard to stomach in a conventional drama are lapped up by spectators who know all about the director’s love of genre and delight in pastiching old spaghetti Westerns. A certain sadism has always defined crime movies. (…) Nor is there anything new in making very dry comedy out of violence and death. (…) What has changed now is that genre lines have become very blurred. (…) Ideas that might have previously been confined to exploitation pics have spilled into the mainstream. In the era of computer games like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed, death isn’t taken very seriously. Film-makers with no direct experience of war beyond what they’ve seen in other movies regard staging killings as just another part of cinematic rhetoric. At the same time, state-of-the art make-up and digital effects enable violence to be shown in far greater and bloodier detail than ever before. Tarantino turns to heavy political and historical topics (the Holocaust in Inglourious Basterds, slavery in Django Unchained) but tips us the wink as he does so. One problem he and others face is the literal quality of film. When a slave is being flayed or a police officer is having his ear cut off, it isn’t always possible to put inverted commas round the scene and let the audience know that this horrific moment is stylised and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. (…) Acts of killing define the new sadism in cinema. The challenge now for film-makers is jolting audiences who’ve already seen death portrayed so many times on screen before. When they get it right, they can create scenes of extraordinary power and beauty – and they can use humour to distance themselves from the charge that they are being exploitative. Even so, the film-makers themselves sometimes appear just a little bashful about the enormous body counts in their work. The US premiere of Django Unchained was postponed after the Connecticut school massacre in mid December. The real-life incident in which a lone gunman killed 20 school children made it seem perverse and tasteless to celebrate Tarantino’s comic-book violence. (…) Even so, what’s often startling about the new sadism in cinema is the disregard for the victims, who are treated as walk-on props, there to be dispensed with in the most humorous, bloody and imaginative way possible. In 1989, Danny Boyle produced (and conceived) Alan Clarke’s Elephant – a TV movie set at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. This was an essay about killing. Eighteen random murders were shown. Viewers learnt nothing at all about the killers or the victims. The film-makers were reminding us how desensitised we had become to sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. A quarter of a century on, that casual detachment about death has become a staple of mainstream cinema. Geoffrey Mcnab
The most confusing moment in Quentin Tarantino’s new film, Django Unchained , comes in the final credits. The viewer sees an assurance from the American Humane Association that no animals were harmed in the film’s making. In this movie, set in the south before the US civil war, slaves get tied to trees and whipped. A naked black wrestler is ordered to bash another’s head in with a very big hammer. Dogs chew a runaway slave to pieces. This is to set the stage for an exuberant massacre of white men and women at the close. Mr Tarantino lingers over his victims as they writhe, gasp and scream in agony. One walks out of Django worried less about Mr Tarantino’s attitude towards animals than about his attitude towards people. A.O. Scott, The New York Times critic, calls it a “troubling and important movie about slavery and racism”. He is wrong. (…) The period detail sometimes seems accurate (slaveholders may have flung the word “nigger” around as often as Mr Tarantino’s characters do), and sometimes does not (there never was any such thing as “Mandingo fighting”). Of course, we must not mistake a feature film for a public television documentary – Mr Tarantino’s purpose is to entertain, not to enlighten. But this is why the film is neither important nor troubling, except as a cultural symptom. Django uses slavery the way a pornographic film might use a nurses’ convention: as a pretext for what is really meant to entertain us. What is really meant to entertain us in Django is violence. Mr Scott writes that “vengeance in the American imagination has been the virtually exclusive prerogative of white men”. Cinematically, black people should get to partake in “regenerative violence” the way white people have for so long. He adds: “Think about that when the hand-wringing starts about Django Unchained and ask yourself why the violence in this movie will suddenly seem so much more problematic, so much more regrettable, than what passes without comment in Jack Reacher or Taken 2.” But this now-the-shoe’s-on-the-other-foot argument is disingenuous. In no major US film do white people exact racial vengeance of the sort Django does. And Mr Tarantino’s love of violence is not “suddenly” problematic. It is the sole pleasure anyone could possibly take in his first film, the appalling Reservoir Dogs.Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, for all their situational irony and madcap humour, also have memorable scenes of horrific violence. But Mr Tarantino’s last two films have taken a strange turn. He has not just shown cruelty but tried to politicise and ennoble it. Inglourious Basterds features a gang of American Jews who travel around Germany scalping Nazis and smashing their heads with baseball bats. It ends with a torture scene (one of our heroes carves a swastika into a Nazi’s head) that we are surely meant to enjoy. Nazis and slaveholders, of course, are stock villains of political correctness. Film-makers have been killing them off for decades. What is novel about Mr Tarantino is his fussy, lawyerly setting of ground rules to broaden the circumstances in which one can kill with joy and impunity. Scalping is OK because “a Nazi ain’t got no humanity”. Django can kneecap the plantation major-domo Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) because he has stipulated at the start of the film that there is “nothing lower than a head house-nigger”. Of course, Stephen is more the slave system’s victim than its representative. He is a slave. The indignities visited on various slaves (“After this we’ll see if you break eggs again!” hollers one brute as he gets ready to whip a young woman) serve to make us comfortable with the final racial retribution, even though Django’s vengeance claims white people (hillbillies and jailers) who have no more control over the system than Stephen. (…) Where Mr Tarantino sees a solidarity with the victims of the past, others might see a contemporary white American eager to believe that, given the opportunity, other peoples of yesteryear would have behaved as shabbily as his own people did.  Christopher Caldwell
The American film industry is the second great pillar of the gun culture. And it’s not just Clint Eastwood’s Smith & Wesson from Dirty Harry, which, as everyone who lived through the 1970s knows, was then “the most powerful handgun in the world,” able to “blow your head clean off.” Hollywood’s cameras adore weapons of any kind, and pay them loving heed in movies of every political persuasion. Think of the close-up on Rambo’s machine gun as it spasms its way through an ammo belt in the 1985 installment of the series, or the shell casings tinkling delicately on the floor as cops die by the dozens in The Matrix (1999), or the heroic slo-mo of Sean Penn’s tommy gun in Gangster Squad (2013), or the really special Soviet submachine gun that everyone lusts after in Jack Abramoff’s 1989 action movie Red Scorpion. It’s the mother of all product placements, and as far as we know it doesn’t cost the arms makers a dime. Even more delectable is the effect that guns have on human flesh, a phenomenon so titillating for moviemakers that it often surpasses the pleasures of plot and dialogue. Discussing the many, many graphic shootings in his recent Django Unchained, for example, director Quentin Tarantino identifies screen violence as the reason most viewers go to his movies in the first place. “That’s fun, and that’s cool, and that’s really enjoyable,” he told NPR. “And kind of what you’re waiting for. » (…)  In Tarantino’s pseudohistorical revenge fantasies, humans are oversize water balloons just waiting to be popped, so that they can spurt their exciting red contents over walls and bystanders. The role of the star is relatively simple: he or she must make those human piñatas give up their payload. Yes, there are plots along the way, clever ones wherein Tarantino burnishes his controversial image by daring to take on such sacred cows as Nazis and slave owners. But the nonstars in his movies mainly exist to beg for their lives and then be orgasmically deprived of them, spouting blood like so many harpooned porpoises. Okay, I got carried away there. Let me catch my breath and admit it: Tarantino would never show someone harpooning a porpoise. After all, a line in the credits for Django Unchained declares that “no horses were harmed in the making of this movie.” But harpooning a human? After having first blasted off the human’s balls and played a sunny pop song from the Seventies while the human begged for mercy in the background? No problem. The movies I describe here are essentially advertisements for mass murder. You can also read them in dozens of other ways, I know. You can talk about Tarantino’s clever and encyclopedically allusive command of genre, or about how the latest Batman movie advances the “franchise,” or about the inky shady shadowiness of, well, nearly everything the industry cranks out nowadays. And to give them their due, most of the movies I’ve mentioned take pains to clarify that what they depict are good-guy-on-bad-guy murders — which makes homicide okay, maybe even wholesome. In decades past, let’s recall, there was a fashion for viewing the gangster film as a delicate metaphor, interesting mainly for the dark existentialism it spotlighted in our souls. But today, as I absorb the blunt aesthetic blows of one ultraviolent film after another, all I can make of it is that Hollywood, for reasons of its own, is hopelessly enamored of homicide. The plot is barely there anymore. Good guys and bad guys are hopelessly jumbled, their motives as vague as those of the Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza. A movie like The Dark Knight Rises (2012) is nearly impossible to make sense of; only its many murders hold it together. All the rest shrinks, but the act of homicide expands, ramifies, multiplies madly. And what can we read in this act itself? Well, most obviously, that ordinary humans are weak and worth little, that they achieve beauty only when they are brought to efflorescence by the discharge of a star’s sidearm. Also: killers are glamorous creatures. And lastly: society and law are futile exercises. Whether we’re dealing with vigilantes, hit men, or a World War II torture squad, nobody can shield us from the power of an armed man. (Except, of course, another armed man, as Wayne LaPierre and Hollywood never tire of informing us.) For the industry itself, meanwhile, so many things come together in the act of murder — audience pleasure, actor coolness, the appearance of art — that everything else is essentially secondary. Hence the basic principles of Hollywood’s antisocial faith. A man isn’t really a man if he can’t use a shotgun to change the seat of another man’s soul into so much garbage. Or if he doesn’t know how to fire a pistol sideways, signifying that thuggish disregard for who or what gets caught in the spray of bullets. [*] Yet few of them complained about Tarantino’s 2009 slice of war porn, Inglourious Basterds, since the people being tortured so graphically and so hilariously by a U.S. Army hit squad were Nazis. At times, my erudite liberal colleagues have no problem understanding this. They’re quick to characterize Zero Dark Thirty (2012) as an advertisement for torture and other Bush-era outrages.[*] It’s sadism!, they cry. But the larger sadism that is obviously the film industry’s truest muse . . . that they don’t want to discuss. Bring that up and the conversation is immediately suspended in favor of legal arguments about censorship, free speech, and the definition of “incitement.” Movies can’t be said to have caused mass murders, they correctly point out. Not even Natural Born Killers (1994) — a movie that insists on the complicity of the media in romanticizing murderers, that itself proceeds to romanticize murderers, and that has been duly shadowed by a long string of alleged copycat murders, including the Columbine massacre. No, these are works of art. And art is, you know, all edgy and defiant and shit. Not surprisingly, Quentin Tarantino has lately become the focus for this sort of criticism. The fact that Django Unchained arrived in theaters right around the time of the Sandy Hook massacre didn’t help. Yet he has refused to give an inch in discussing the link between movie violence and real life. “Obviously I don’t think one has to do with the other,” he told an NPR interviewer. “Movies are about make-believe. It’s about imagination. Part of the thing is we’re trying to create a realistic experience, but we are faking it.” Is it possible that anyone in our cynical world credits a self-serving sophistry like this? Of course an industry under fire will claim that its hands are clean, just as the NRA has done — and of course a favorite son, be it Tarantino or LaPierre, can be counted on to make the claim louder than anyone else. But do they really believe that imaginative expression is without consequence? One might as well claim that advertising itself has no effect — because the spokesmen aren’t really enjoying that Sprite, you know, only pretending to. Or that TV speeches don’t matter, since the politician’s words are strung together for dramatic effect, and are not themselves a show of official force. To insist on a full, pristine separation of the dramatic imagination from the way humans actually behave is to fly in the face of nearly everything we know about cultural history. For centuries, people misinterpreted the reign of Richard III because of a play by Shakespeare. The revival of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s was advanced by D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation. In our own era, millions of Americans believe in the righteous innocence of businessmen because of a novel by Ayn Rand. And here is why I personally will never believe it when the film industry claims its products have no effect on human behavior. Like every American, I carry around in my head a collection of sights and sounds that I will never be able to erase, no matter what I think about Hollywood. To this day, those bits of dialogue and those filmed images affect the way I do everything from answering the phone to pruning my roses. I can’t get on my Honda scooter without recalling Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, or look out an airplane window without remembering The Best Years of Our Lives. When I shot at paper targets in the Boy Scouts, I thought of Sergeant York, and should I ever become an L.A. cop I will probably mimic the mannerisms of Ryan Gosling in Gangster Squad. I doubt very much that we will see effective gun control enacted this time around. (…) The political arm of the gun culture, headquartered at the big NRA building in northern Virginia, is still powerful enough to block any meaningful change. However, the other pillar of the gun culture — the propaganda bureau relaxing in the Los Angeles sun — is much more vulnerable. Its continued well-being depends to a real degree on the approbation and collaboration of critics. Which is to say that my colleagues in journalism are, in part, responsible for this monster. We have fostered it with puff pieces and softball interviews and a thousand “press junkets” — the free vacations for journalists that secure avalanches of praise for a movie before anyone has seen it. This refusal on the part of critics to criticize is what has allowed Quentin Tarantino to be crowned a cinematic genius of our time.  It is time for the boot-licking to end. Mick LaSalle, film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, recently recalled how he self-censored a review of The Dark Knight Rises, declining to say in print that he found it to be “a wallow in nonstop cruelty and destruction.” But in the wake of the Connecticut school massacre, LaSalle explained, he had come around to a new understanding of critical responsibility. “If movies are cruel and nihilistic, say so,” he wrote. “Say it explicitly. Don’t run from that observation.” It’s a lesson that every one of us in journalism ought to be taking to heart these days. It is our job to say it explicitly — to tell the world what god-awful heaps of cliché and fake profundity and commercialized sadism this industry produces. The fake blood spilled by Hollywood cries out for it. Thomas Frank

Attention: une NRA peut en cacher une autre !

Fascination malsaine pour la violence, stylisation et magnification de l’extrême violence, désamorçage de toute réflexion par l’ironie et la parodie, décontextualisation totale de sujets politiques ou historiques aussi problématiques que la Shoah ou l’esclavage aux Etats-Unis, extrême amoralité, recherche du plaisir immédiat pour le spectateur, virtuosité gratuite et tapageuse, systématisation de la citation jusqu’au pillage, mélange vertigineux de genres et de sous-genres, hypersurficialité, réduction de l’Histoire à  l’histoire du cinéma, multipliation des invraisemblances (quel intérêt pour un propriétaire d’esclaves – comme d’ailleurs dans « 12 years a slave » – de maltraiter une force de travail extrêmement coûteuse ?) et des anachronismes (pas de Ku Klu Klan avant la Guerre de succession) …

En ces temps décidément étranges où l’on célèbre, sur fond de culture de l’excuse généralisée et stèles et noms de rues compris, les explosions communauaires de violence ….

Et à l’heure où, non contents de prôner le contrôle des armes et de dénoncer les brutalités policières aux Etats-Unis …

Un Hollywood qui, avec Spike Lee et Quentin Tarentino nous avait déjà valu des scènes d’une rare cruauté notamment contre les policiers, sort deux nouvelles odes à la violence

Se permet à présent d’accuser les policiers de meurtres et de prendre le parti de ceux qui les tuent …

Comment ne pas voir avec les quelques critiques qui osent braver la permissivité ambiante …

Non seulement l’incroyable mauvaise foi d’une industrie qui inspire tant les criminels que les policiers eux-mêmes …

Mais l’inquiétante escalade de violence que peuvent générer, dans la profession elle-même et au-delà dans la société en général, des réalisateurs aussi brillants et influents qu’un Quentin Tarantino

Dans un flot continu de jeux vidéos toujours plus réalistes, de véritable snuff videos djihadistes et de médias toujours plus demandeurs

Mais aussi, au niveau national comme international et sans compter une circulation des armes exponentielle, de revendications identitaires toujours plus exacerbées ?

Et surtout comment ne pas presque physiquement ressentir, quand pour ses deux derniers films, ils choisit de traiter des questions historiques aussi majeures que l’esclavage aux Etats-Unis ou le nazisme …

Le plus grand mépris dont il fait montre tant pour la réalité historique que pour la vie humaine ?

Blood Sport
Thomas Frank
Harper’s

March 2013

For a time in December, it looked as though the nation was finally ready to take on the gun culture. Perhaps you recall the moment: twenty grade-schoolers, along with their teachers and their principal, had been added to the roster of 30,000 people killed by guns in America each year. The details of the massacre were at once terrible and familiar — indeed, you could have guessed them as soon as you heard the first sketchy news bulletins. A murderer lost in some sanguinary fantasy. High-capacity magazines. In the starring role, one of our society’s prized slaughtering machines: an AR-15 assault rifle. And for the families of the six- and seven-year-olds whose bodies were blown apart, there would be teddy bears, support groups, wooden messages from the secretary of education.

On December 21, a week after the shooting, began the second obligatory chapter in this oft-told tale. Wayne LaPierre, the lavishly compensated face of the National Rifle Association, stepped up to a podium at the Willard Hotel in Washington and twisted his features into an expression meant to indicate sorrow. What came gurgling from LaPierre’s throat, though, was righteous accusation mixed with a heavy dollop of class resentment. It was the assembled men and women of the press who were somehow to blame, droned this million-dollar-a-year man who had apparently not bothered to read his script in advance. Gun owners were victims, you see, who had been demonized by the media and the “political class here in Washington.” Oh, pity the man with a MAC-10!

Next came the other parts of the traditional catechism. America’s leaders were soft on crime, unwilling “to prosecute dangerous criminals.” They gave too much money away in foreign aid. They miscategorized certain weapons as Thing A when they were obviously Thing B. Each of these grievances you could have heard, almost word for word, back in the 1970s. They are specimens of a chronic paranoia that never dissipates, no matter how many millions we imprison or how respectfully journalists learn to speak of the M16 and the sexy SIG Sauer.

But this time around, these bullet points were missing something. Matters had gone too far, and the NRA was desperate to escape the blame. But how? Well, if you are a prominent conservative lobbyist and one day there’s a catastrophe that stems pretty directly from your cherished policy initiatives, what do you do? You insist that the world hasn’t gone far enough in implementing your demands. So the solution to the massacre culture must obviously be more guns in more places than ever before: universities, churches, strip clubs, hospitals, tanning salons, bowling alleys.

And should something go wrong in this weapon-saturated world — for example, should someone use one of those weapons in precisely the way it was designed to be used — we may seek answers only within the narrow parameters of the ideologically permissible. Which is to say: We must meet every fresh mass murder with the conclusion that the United States, already home to some 300 million firearms, isn’t weapon-saturated enough. The task before us is to arm not only the guards in our elementary schools but also the teachers, the custodians, the cafeteria workers, the hall monitors. And on and on until the arms race is the preeminent logic of civilian life. Only then will the streets of Dodge City be safe.

I worry that I have not made sufficiently clear where I stand on this issue. For the record: gun control works. It seems obvious to me that, when considering the towering difference in murder statistics between the United States and other industrialized lands, the most relevant factor is the ready availability of certain kinds of firearms. I believe that the ideology of libertarianism, with its twin gods Market and Magnum, is not just bankrupting us; it is killing us. And I believe that Wayne LaPierre bears a certain moral responsibility for the massacre culture, regardless of his intentions or his exalted stature in Washington.

The reason I want to be clear about this is that I also think Wayne LaPierre got something right. In his Willard Hotel address, he tried to get the assembled media types to acknowledge their own culpability for our pandemic violence. “Media conglomerates,” he intoned, “compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes — every minute of every day of every month of every year.”

Coming from the NRA, of course, this was pretty base hypocrisy. It doesn’t take much skill with a remote to confirm that some of the most sadistic entertainment ever filmed follows the line of none other than the National Rifle Association. Over and over, we are shown spineless liberals with a soft spot for the murderers and rapists in our midst, who leave society’s dirty work to the big man with the big gun. Indeed, Wayne LaPierre basically gave the genre a shout-out when he reasoned, all too cinematically, that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

But as a description of the world we live in, what LaPierre said was . . . well, correct. Media companies obviously do compete to project violence into our homes. And why is that? Because the American film industry is the second great pillar of the gun culture.

And it’s not just Clint Eastwood’s Smith & Wesson from Dirty Harry, which, as everyone who lived through the 1970s knows, was then “the most powerful handgun in the world,” able to “blow your head clean off.” Hollywood’s cameras adore weapons of any kind, and pay them loving heed in movies of every political persuasion. Think of the close-up on Rambo’s machine gun as it spasms its way through an ammo belt in the 1985 installment of the series, or the shell casings tinkling delicately on the floor as cops die by the dozens in The Matrix (1999), or the heroic slo-mo of Sean Penn’s tommy gun in Gangster Squad (2013), or the really special Soviet submachine gun that everyone lusts after in Jack Abramoff’s 1989 action movie Red Scorpion. It’s the mother of all product placements, and as far as we know it doesn’t cost the arms makers a dime.

Even more delectable is the effect that guns have on human flesh, a phenomenon so titillating for moviemakers that it often surpasses the pleasures of plot and dialogue. Discussing the many, many graphic shootings in his recent Django Unchained, for example, director Quentin Tarantino identifies screen violence as the reason most viewers go to his movies in the first place. “That’s fun, and that’s cool, and that’s really enjoyable,” he told NPR. “And kind of what you’re waiting for.”

In Tarantino’s pseudohistorical revenge fantasies, humans are oversize water balloons just waiting to be popped, so that they can spurt their exciting red contents over walls and bystanders. The role of the star is relatively simple: he or she must make those human piñatas give up their payload. Yes, there are plots along the way, clever ones wherein Tarantino burnishes his controversial image by daring to take on such sacred cows as Nazis and slave owners. But the nonstars in his movies mainly exist to beg for their lives and then be orgasmically deprived of them, spouting blood like so many harpooned porpoises.

Okay, I got carried away there. Let me catch my breath and admit it: Tarantino would never show someone harpooning a porpoise. After all, a line in the credits for Django Unchained declares that “no horses were harmed in the making of this movie.” But harpooning a human? After having first blasted off the human’s balls and played a sunny pop song from the Seventies while the human begged for mercy in the background? No problem.

The movies I describe here are essentially advertisements for mass murder. You can also read them in dozens of other ways, I know. You can talk about Tarantino’s clever and encyclopedically allusive command of genre, or about how the latest Batman movie advances the “franchise,” or about the inky shady shadowiness of, well, nearly everything the industry cranks out nowadays. And to give them their due, most of the movies I’ve mentioned take pains to clarify that what they depict are good-guy-on-bad-guy murders — which makes homicide okay, maybe even wholesome.

In decades past, let’s recall, there was a fashion for viewing the gangster film as a delicate metaphor, interesting mainly for the dark existentialism it spotlighted in our souls. But today, as I absorb the blunt aesthetic blows of one ultraviolent film after another, all I can make of it is that Hollywood, for reasons of its own, is hopelessly enamored of homicide. The plot is barely there anymore. Good guys and bad guys are hopelessly jumbled, their motives as vague as those of the Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza. A movie like The Dark Knight Rises (2012) is nearly impossible to make sense of; only its many murders hold it together. All the rest shrinks, but the act of homicide expands, ramifies, multiplies madly.

And what can we read in this act itself? Well, most obviously, that ordinary humans are weak and worth little, that they achieve beauty only when they are brought to efflorescence by the discharge of a star’s sidearm. Also: killers are glamorous creatures. And lastly: society and law are futile exercises. Whether we’re dealing with vigilantes, hit men, or a World War II torture squad, nobody can shield us from the power of an armed man. (Except, of course, another armed man, as Wayne LaPierre and Hollywood never tire of informing us.)

For the industry itself, meanwhile, so many things come together in the act of murder — audience pleasure, actor coolness, the appearance of art — that everything else is essentially secondary. Hence the basic principles of Hollywood’s antisocial faith. A man isn’t really a man if he can’t use a shotgun to change the seat of another man’s soul into so much garbage. Or if he doesn’t know how to fire a pistol sideways, signifying that thuggish disregard for who or what gets caught in the spray of bullets.

At times, my erudite liberal colleagues have no problem understanding this. They’re quick to characterize Zero Dark Thirty (2012) as an advertisement for torture and other Bush-era outrages.[*] It’s sadism!, they cry. But the larger sadism that is obviously the film industry’s truest muse . . . that they don’t want to discuss. Bring that up and the conversation is immediately suspended in favor of legal arguments about censorship, free speech, and the definition of “incitement.” Movies can’t be said to have caused mass murders, they correctly point out. Not even Natural Born Killers (1994) — a movie that insists on the complicity of the media in romanticizing murderers, that itself proceeds to romanticize murderers, and that has been duly shadowed by a long string of alleged copycat murders, including the Columbine massacre. No, these are works of art. And art is, you know, all edgy and defiant and shit.

Not surprisingly, Quentin Tarantino has lately become the focus for this sort of criticism. The fact that Django Unchained arrived in theaters right around the time of the Sandy Hook massacre didn’t help. Yet he has refused to give an inch in discussing the link between movie violence and real life. “Obviously I don’t think one has to do with the other,” he told an NPR interviewer. “Movies are about make-believe. It’s about imagination. Part of the thing is we’re trying to create a realistic experience, but we are faking it.”

Is it possible that anyone in our cynical world credits a self-serving sophistry like this? Of course an industry under fire will claim that its hands are clean, just as the NRA has done — and of course a favorite son, be it Tarantino or LaPierre, can be counted on to make the claim louder than anyone else. But do they really believe that imaginative expression is without consequence? One might as well claim that advertising itself has no effect — because the spokesmen aren’t really enjoying that Sprite, you know, only pretending to. Or that TV speeches don’t matter, since the politician’s words are strung together for dramatic effect, and are not themselves a show of official force.

To insist on a full, pristine separation of the dramatic imagination from the way humans actually behave is to fly in the face of nearly everything we know about cultural history. For centuries, people misinterpreted the reign of Richard III because of a play by Shakespeare. The revival of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s was advanced by D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation. In our own era, millions of Americans believe in the righteous innocence of businessmen because of a novel by Ayn Rand.

And here is why I personally will never believe it when the film industry claims its products have no effect on human behavior. Like every American, I carry around in my head a collection of sights and sounds that I will never be able to erase, no matter what I think about Hollywood. To this day, those bits of dialogue and those filmed images affect the way I do everything from answering the phone to pruning my roses. I can’t get on my Honda scooter without recalling Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, or look out an airplane window without remembering The Best Years of Our Lives. When I shot at paper targets in the Boy Scouts, I thought of Sergeant York, and should I ever become an L.A. cop I will probably mimic the mannerisms of Ryan Gosling in Gangster Squad.

I doubt very much that we will see effective gun control enacted this time around. Oh, the rules have already been tightened in New York, and the president will gamely joust with the House of Representatives over renewing the ban on assault weapons. But it won’t go much further. The political arm of the gun culture, headquartered at the big NRA building in northern Virginia, is still powerful enough to block any meaningful change.

However, the other pillar of the gun culture — the propaganda bureau relaxing in the Los Angeles sun — is much more vulnerable. Its continued well-being depends to a real degree on the approbation and collaboration of critics.

Which is to say that my colleagues in journalism are, in part, responsible for this monster. We have fostered it with puff pieces and softball interviews and a thousand “press junkets” — the free vacations for journalists that secure avalanches of praise for a movie before anyone has seen it. This refusal on the part of critics to criticize is what has allowed Quentin Tarantino to be crowned a cinematic genius of our time. (When a journalist refuses to grovel, however, Tarantino gets awfully peevish. “This is a commercial for the movie, make no mistake,” he recently told an interviewer bold enough to ask him an uncomfortable question.)

It is time for the boot-licking to end. Mick LaSalle, film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, recently recalled how he self-censored a review of The Dark Knight Rises, declining to say in print that he found it to be “a wallow in nonstop cruelty and destruction.” But in the wake of the Connecticut school massacre, LaSalle explained, he had come around to a new understanding of critical responsibility. “If movies are cruel and nihilistic, say so,” he wrote. “Say it explicitly. Don’t run from that observation.”

It’s a lesson that every one of us in journalism ought to be taking to heart these days. It is our job to say it explicitly — to tell the world what god-awful heaps of cliché and fake profundity and commercialized sadism this industry produces. The fake blood spilled by Hollywood cries out for it.

[*] Yet few of them complained about Tarantino’s 2009 slice of war porn, Inglourious Basterds, since the people being tortured so graphically and so hilariously by a U.S. Army hit squad were Nazis.

 Voir aussi:

Django Unchained and the ‘new sadism’ in cinema
Quentin Tarantino’s new film is the latest where killing is seen as comical. Geoffrey Macnab wonders why people fall about laughing at disembowelment and garroting on screen?
Geoffrey Macnab
The Independent
12 January 2013

It’s the “new sadism” in cinema – the wave of films in which violence is graphic, bloody but always underpinned by irony or gallows humour. There is something disconcerting about sitting in a crowded cinema as an audience guffaws at the latest garroting or falls about in hysterics as someone is beheaded or has a limb lopped off.

Many recent movies squeeze the comedy out of what would normally seem like horrific acts of bloodletting. Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths has barely started when we see two assassins who are planning a killing being blithely murdered by a passer-by themselves. The film features throats being cut and many characters being shot to pieces but is played for laughs.

However, the violence isn’t immediately signalled as comic. Seven Psychopaths isn’t like Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), with its self-consciously farcical scenes of the Black Knight refusing to concede in battle in spite of having had all his limbs cut off.

Ben Wheatley’s recent Grand Guignol camper-van comedy Sightseers shows two British tourists wreaking murderous havoc across the British countryside. When a rambler complains about their dog fouling a field, they bludgeon him to death. “He’s not a person, Tina, he’s a Daily Mail reader,” Chris (Steve Oram) reassures his girlfriend when she expresses some slight misgivings about killing innocent people. Tina (Alice Lowe) has form of her own, throwing a bride-to-be off a cliff after a hen night in which the woman flirts with Steve.

In Quentin Tarantino’s films, the violence, torture and bloodletting sit side by side with wisecracking dialogue and moments of slapstick. His latest, Django Unchained, features whippings, brutal wrestling matches and one scene in which dogs rip a slave to pieces. We know, though, that Tarantino’s tongue is in his cheek. Scenes that would be very hard to stomach in a conventional drama are lapped up by spectators who know all about the director’s love of genre and delight in pastiching old spaghetti Westerns.

A certain sadism has always defined crime movies. Whether it was Lee Marvin scalding Gloria Grahame with the coffee in The Big Heat (1953) or James Cagney’s Cody blithely shooting innocent train drivers in White Heat (1949), audiences watched the antics of gangsters with appalled fascination. From Edwin S Porter’s The Great Train Robbery (1903) to Sam Peckinpah’s blistering, slow-motion shoot-outs in The Wild Bunch (1969), film-makers have always looked to violence for dramatic effect.  Well-choreographed shoot-outs and fist fights will always be intensely cinematic.

Sadism and slapstick likewise go hand in hand. Whether silent comedians slapping and hitting one another, pulling one another’s ears and twisting noses or Farrelly brothers films with their  grotesque set-pieces, comedy movies have always traded in humiliation.

Nor is there anything new in making very dry comedy out of violence and death. Robert Hamer’s Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) is a supremely elegant and witty film about a serial killer who murders off his own family members just as quickly as Chris and Tina dispose of National Trust-loving tourists in Sightseers. Frank Capra’s Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) features very charming old ladies whose pet hobby is murdering lonely old men. Howard Hawks’s His Girl Friday (1940) turns the plight of a convicted murderer facing execution into the stuff of screwball farce.

What has changed now is that genre lines have become very blurred. Young directors like Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and Wheatley draw on horror movie conventions even as they make very British comedies. Ideas that might have previously been confined to exploitation pics have spilled into the mainstream. In the era of computer games like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed, death isn’t taken very seriously. Film-makers with no direct experience of war beyond what they’ve seen in other movies regard staging killings as just another part of cinematic rhetoric. At the same time, state-of-the art make-up and digital effects enable violence to be shown in far greater and bloodier detail than ever before.

Tarantino turns to heavy political and historical topics (the Holocaust in Inglourious Basterds, slavery in Django Unchained) but tips us the wink as he does so. One problem he and others face is the literal quality of film. When a slave is being flayed or a police officer is having his ear cut off, it isn’t always possible to put inverted commas round the scene and let the audience know that this horrific moment is stylised and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

As a counterpoint to latest films from Wheatley, Tarantino and McDonagh, it is instructive to watch Joshua Oppenheimer’s grim and startling recent documentary, The Act of Killing. Oppenheimer’s doc follows various real-life killers who murdered thousands of “communists” in Indonesia in the mid 1960s. They’ve never faced punishment for what they did and still openly brag about their part in a genocide. Oppenheimer invites them to re-create some of their grisly deeds as pastiche Hollywood movies. We see these aging hoodlums dress in drag for Vincente Minnelli-like musical scenes or coming on like bad Method actors in gangster pic spoofs or even portraying cowboys in mock spaghetti Westerns. Whatever the genre they choose, there is no escaping the bloodcurdling nature of the deeds they are celebrating.

Acts of killing define the new sadism in cinema. The challenge now for film-makers is jolting audiences who’ve already seen death portrayed so many times on screen before. When they get it right, they can create scenes of extraordinary power and beauty – and they can use humour to distance themselves from the charge that they are being exploitative.

Even so, the film-makers themselves sometimes appear just a little bashful about the enormous body counts in their work. The US premiere of Django Unchained was postponed after the Connecticut school massacre in mid December. The real-life incident in which a lone gunman killed 20 school children made it seem perverse and tasteless to celebrate Tarantino’s comic-book violence.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) introduced a “code” in 1930 (not strictly enforced until 1934) partly to clamp down on gangster films felt to glamorize violence. Ever since, the debates about guns, Hollywood and violence have gone round in wearisome circles. Every time there is a real-life atrocity as in Connecticut, films are held up as being in some way to blame, generally by commentators who haven’t actually seen them. Meanwhile, cultural critics are  always quick to point out that violence and art go back thousands of years before the birth of cinema.

Even so, what’s often startling about the new sadism in cinema is the disregard for the victims, who are treated as walk-on props, there to be dispensed with in the most humorous, bloody and imaginative way possible. In 1989, Danny Boyle produced (and conceived) Alan Clarke’s Elephant – a TV movie set at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. This was an essay about killing. Eighteen random murders were shown. Viewers learnt nothing at all about the killers or the victims. The film-makers were reminding us how desensitised we had become to sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. A quarter of a century on, that casual detachment about death has become a staple of mainstream cinema.

‘Django Unchained’ is released on  18 January

Voir également:

Tarantino’s crusade to ennoble violence
Christopher Caldwell

The Financial Times

January 4, 2013

The director uses slavery the way a porn film might use a nurses’ convention

The most confusing moment in Quentin Tarantino’s new film, Django Unchained , comes in the final credits. The viewer sees an assurance from the American Humane Association that no animals were harmed in the film’s making. In this movie, set in the south before the US civil war, slaves get tied to trees and whipped. A naked black wrestler is ordered to bash another’s head in with a very big hammer. Dogs chew a runaway slave to pieces. This is to set the stage for an exuberant massacre of white men and women at the close. Mr Tarantino lingers over his victims as they writhe, gasp and scream in agony. One walks out of Django worried less about Mr Tarantino’s attitude towards animals than about his attitude towards people.
A.O. Scott, The New York Times critic, calls it a “troubling and important movie about slavery and racism”. He is wrong. A German-born bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) liberates the slave Django (Jamie Foxx), hoping he can identify a murderous gang of overseers. The two try to free Django’s wife from the plantation where she has been brought by the sybaritic Monsieur Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). The period detail sometimes seems accurate (slaveholders may have flung the word “nigger” around as often as Mr Tarantino’s characters do), and sometimes does not (there never was any such thing as “Mandingo fighting”).

Of course, we must not mistake a feature film for a public television documentary – Mr Tarantino’s purpose is to entertain, not to enlighten. But this is why the film is neither important nor troubling, except as a cultural symptom. Django uses slavery the way a pornographic film might use a nurses’ convention: as a pretext for what is really meant to entertain us. What is really meant to entertain us in Django is violence.

Mr Scott writes that “vengeance in the American imagination has been the virtually exclusive prerogative of white men”. Cinematically, black people should get to partake in “regenerative violence” the way white people have for so long. He adds: “Think about that when the hand-wringing starts about Django Unchained and ask yourself why the violence in this movie will suddenly seem so much more problematic, so much more regrettable, than what passes without comment in Jack Reacher or Taken 2.” But this now-the-shoe’s-on-the-other-foot argument is disingenuous. In no major US film do white people exact racial vengeance of the sort Django does.

And Mr Tarantino’s love of violence is not “suddenly” problematic. It is the sole pleasure anyone could possibly take in his first film, the appalling Reservoir Dogs.Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, for all their situational irony and madcap humour, also have memorable scenes of horrific violence. But Mr Tarantino’s last two films have taken a strange turn. He has not just shown cruelty but tried to politicise and ennoble it. Inglourious Basterds features a gang of American Jews who travel around Germany scalping Nazis and smashing their heads with baseball bats. It ends with a torture scene (one of our heroes carves a swastika into a Nazi’s head) that we are surely meant to enjoy.

Nazis and slaveholders, of course, are stock villains of political correctness. Film-makers have been killing them off for decades. What is novel about Mr Tarantino is his fussy, lawyerly setting of ground rules to broaden the circumstances in which one can kill with joy and impunity. Scalping is OK because “a Nazi ain’t got no humanity”. Django can kneecap the plantation major-domo Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) because he has stipulated at the start of the film that there is “nothing lower than a head house-nigger”. Of course, Stephen is more the slave system’s victim than its representative. He is a slave. The indignities visited on various slaves (“After this we’ll see if you break eggs again!” hollers one brute as he gets ready to whip a young woman) serve to make us comfortable with the final racial retribution, even though Django’s vengeance claims white people (hillbillies and jailers) who have no more control over the system than Stephen.

The film-maker Spike Lee has called this film “disrespectful to my ancestors”. The remark has puzzled people but it should not. Monsieur Candie reminisces, “surrounded by black faces, day in, day out, I had one question: Why don’t they kill us?” It is an excellent question.
However you answer it, the fact is, they didn’t. In the eyes of history, antebellum blacks retain an honour that their white oppressors will forever be denied. Maybe Mr Lee objects to a failure to see that honour. Where Mr Tarantino sees a solidarity with the victims of the past, others might see a contemporary white American eager to believe that, given the opportunity, other peoples of yesteryear would have behaved as shabbily as his own people did.

The writer is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard

Voir encore:

Was There Really “Mandingo Fighting,” Like in Django Unchained?
Much of Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s blaxploitation Western about an ex-slave’s revenge against plantation owners, centers on a practice called “Mandingo fighting.” Slaves are forced to fight to the death for their owners’ wealth and entertainment. Did the U.S. have anything like this form of gladiatorial combat?
Aisha Harris

Slate
Dec. 24 2012

No. While slaves could be called upon to perform for their owners with other forms of entertainment, such as singing and dancing, no slavery historian we spoke with had ever come across anything that closely resembled this human version of cock fighting. As David Blight, the director of Yale’s center for the study of slavery, told me: One reason slave owners wouldn’t have pitted their slaves against each other in such a way is strictly economic. Slavery was built upon money, and the fortune to be made for owners was in buying, selling, and working them, not in sending them out to fight at the risk of death.

While there’s no historical record of black gladiator fights in the U.S., this hasn’t stopped the sport from appearing again and again in popular culture. The 1975 blaxploitation film Mandingo, which Tarantino has cited as “one of [his] favorite movies,” is about a slave named Mede who is trained by his owner to fight to the death in bare-knuckle boxing against other slaves. That film was inspired by the book of the same name by dog-breeder-turned-novelist Kyle Onstott. (The term Mandingo itself comes from the name of a cultural and ethnic group in West Africa, who speak the Manding languages.) There is at least one other cinematic example of the fighting, in Mandingo’s sequel, Drum. (The scene starts at about 10:45 in the video below.)

Slaves were sometimes sent to fight for their owners; it just wasn’t to the death. Tom Molineaux was a Virginia slave who won his freedom—and, for his owner, $100,000—after winning a match against another slave. He went on to become the first black American to compete for the heavyweight championship when he fought the white champion Tom Cribb in England in 1810. (He lost.) According to Frederick Douglass, wrestling and boxing for sport, like festivals around holidays, were “among the most effective means in the hands of the slaveholder in keeping down the spirit of insurrection.”

It’s also true that, as embodied by the fictional “Mandingo fighting,” there has long been a fascination with the supposed physical prowess of the black body. The rise of prizefighting in the 19th century saw black men such as Peter Jackson and George Dixon making a show of their manliness to white and black audiences. Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal” scene in Invisible Man—in which the narrator must spar other black men in order to obtain a scholarship to a black college—uses a less sensationalistic approach to portray the fetishization of black men fighting. “This is a vital part of behavior patterns in the South, which both Negroes and whites thoughtlessly accept,” Ellison once said. “It is a ritual in preservation of caste lines, a keeping of taboo to appease the gods and ward off bad luck. It is also the initiation ritual to which all greenhorns are subjected.”

Thanks to David Blight of Yale University.

Voir de même:

Django’ Unexplained: Was Mandingo Fighting a Real Thing?
Max Evry

Nextmovie

Dec 25, 2012

One of the most gruesome scenes in Quentin Tarantino’s new blaxploitation western « Django Unchained » involves blackhearted plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) presiding over a Roman-style bare-handed battle to the death between his hulking champion slave Samson (Jordon Michael Corbin) and a much less fortunate slave opponent.

After all the eye gauging and head hammering was through, we wondered if this betting « sport, » known within the movie as « Mandingo Fighting, » was based on true accounts of pre-Civil War Mississippi or if Tarantino made it up out of whole cloth.

This is, after all, the same Tarantino who let Eli Roth machine gun Hitler in the face for « Inglourious Basterds, » so the level of historical accuracy is about on par with what we’d expect from a guy who didn’t graduate from high school. That’s not meant as a dig on the auteur, of course, as the man has perhaps one of the most thorough knowledge bases of both black culture and film history among any director in Hollywood, but he’s definitely less interested in realism than he is in f**king people’s shit up.

So was Mandingo Fighting real? Probably not.

We talked to Edna Greene Medford, Professor and chairperson of the history department at Howard University in Washington, D.C., about whether there’s any basis in non-Tarantinized fact.

« My area of expertise is slavery, Civil War, and reconstruction and I have never encountered something like that, » said Professor Medford. « It was rumored to have occurred. I don’t know that it was called Mandingo Fighting, however, but there were all sorts of things going on in the South pitting people against one another. To the death, I’ve never encountered anything like that, no. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen in some backwater area, but I’ve never seen any evidence of it. »

This was the wild, wild South, after all, so « anything goes » tended to rule the day, but the main reason Medford thinks the idea of Mandingo Fighting is preposterous comes down to one thing: Simple economics.

« It’s a stretch because enslaved people are property, and people don’t want to lose their property unless they’re being reimbursed for it, » she said. « It would seem odd to me that someone would allow his enslaved laborer to fight to the death because someone like that would cost them a lot of money. But then it’s a gambling enterprise so maybe someone would be willing to do that. I’ve looked at slave narratives and I’ve never seen something like that in slave narratives. »

Paramount

As for the etymology of the term « Mandingo, » it comes from a West African ethnic group called the Mandinka, but was popularized in the late ’50s with the racy novel by Kyle Onstott that also became a 1975 movie called « Mandingo, » which Tarantino has praised alongside « Showgirls » as one of the few big budget exploitation pictures made by a studio.

The subject of the film? A slave trained to fight other slaves. « Mandingo, the pride of his masters! Mandingo, the strongest and the bravest! »

« The term has been used to refer to that ethnic group, » clarified Medford, « but it has also come to personify the very powerful enslaved man who’s rather ferocious. It’s equivalent to ‘the big black buck,’ it’s more of a recent term. »

Even though none of what takes place in « Django Unchained » is true-blue history, it still manages to be « yeehaw! » entertaining while shedding light on something that most Americans try to forget happened so they can go on happily with their Christmas shopping. It’s also not Tarantino’s first use of black bounty hunters or « Mandingo » either, as he combined both into one of Samuel L. Jackson’s more memorably un-PC lines from 1997’s « Jackie Brown » in reference to Robert Forster’s prisoner retriever Winston (Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister): « Who’s that big, Mandingo-looking n****r you got up there on that picture with you? »

Voir par ailleurs:

« Django Unchained », un réservoir d’émotions postmodernes à la sauce TarantinoPatrizia LombardoProfesseur de littérature et de cinéma
Le Nouvel Obs
 21-01-2013

LE PLUS. Un western-spaghetti qui dénonce l’esclavage et où la vengeance est le personnage principal, tel est le pitch du dernier film de Tarantino. Mais en quoi « Django Unchained » porte-t-il la signature du réalisateur américain ? Réponse de Patrizia Lombardo, professeure de littérature et de cinéma et auteur de l’article « La signature au cinéma ». Attention SPOILERS !

Un désert rocheux, des landes désolées, retravaillées par les effets spéciaux, la marche des esclaves noirs enchaînés, le froid de la nuit qui s’empare du spectateur : le dernier film de Tarantino, « Django Unchained », s’ouvre sur des plans spectaculaires, dignes des westerns, pour présenter une fable d’amour et de vengeance, aux États-Unis, deux ans avant la guerre de Sécession.

L’odyssée des deux protagonistes, l’esclave noir Django et le docteur Schultz, à travers le Texas et le Mississippi, se terminera par l’affranchissement de Django (Jamie Foxx) et ses retrouvailles avec sa femme Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). La scène finale, après un feu d’artifice de balles et de sang, montre un incendie dévastateur, comme à la fin de « Rebecca » d’Hitchcock (1940). Les deux amoureux, enfin réunis et saufs, contemplent l’immense bâtisse de style néoclassique typique de l’architecture du Sud, la demeure du propriétaire de la plantation, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), à laquelle Django a mis le feu – dernier acte de représailles contre les blancs et contre le traître noir Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson).

Esthétique kitsch postmoderne

Ainsi que le veut le genre du western, souvent comparé à la tragédie grecque, les grands sentiments sont là – l’amour et la haine –, mais le mélange est saugrenu, exorbitant, selon les principes de l’esthétique kitsch postmoderne, qui offre toutes les émotions possibles juxtaposées, comme les produits variés dans un supermarché. Car la signature de Tarantino promet une violence excessive, « gratuite », comme elle a été souvent définie, conjuguée à une ambition morale qui se pare d’amoralité (ou vice versa) : les bons sentiments politiquement corrects et les mauvais sentiments politiquement incorrects sont malaxés dans l’effervescence des images, de l’intrigue, des dialogues.

Et, comme dans le style postmoderne, les passions tragiques et le sentimentalisme mélodramatique sont combinés au plaisir de la comédie et de la farce : la caricature des personnages méprisables – tel le propriétaire de Candyland (!), Calvin, homme cruel et sanguinaire, passionné de lutte Mandingo – provoque le rire plus que l’indignation, et une ironie délicieuse émane de l’adorable docteur Schultz (Christoph Waltz), chasseur de primes, anti-esclavagiste convaincu, qui fait le mal pour le bien.

Quant aux mauvais sentiments, au langage obscène, à la profusion du terme « nigger », ils correspondent à ce que Tarantino adore et ce sur quoi on n’arrête pas de l’interroger : une brutalité extrême qui indique que, pour lui, le cinéma n’a pas grand-chose à voir avec la réalité du monde et de ses malheurs, mais avec l’infinie réalité des images filmiques, inséparables des armes à feu, assaisonnées de conversations qui attrapent au vol des débris de discours politico-sociaux contemporains, que ce soit la misère des non-salariés, comme dans la conversation initiale de « Reservoir Dogs » (1992), ou le nazisme dans « Inglorious Basterds » (2009), ou le racisme américain dans ce dernier film.

À la gloire des œuvres populaires

Le mixage des émotions ne fait qu’exalter l’impureté caractéristique des arts et du cinéma en particulier, où règnent l’adaptation, l’inspiration, la citation, le remake, l’hommage à une œuvre du passé, voire le pillage. Sans parler du va-et-vient le plus composite entre l’image filmique et la bande-son, cher à ces réalisateurs qui, depuis les années 1960, sont imbus de musique pop.

Chez Tarantino, dévoreur d’images et de musique, forgé par maintes formes de culture populaire américaine, l’amalgame des références est époustouflant. Son chef-d’œuvre « Reservoir Dogs », qui montrait sa passion pour la Nouvelle Vague, était inspiré par « The Killing » de Stanley Kubrick (1956) et « City on Fire » (1987) de Ringo Lam Ling-Tung. « Pulp Fiction » (1994) reprenait les histoires des magazines bon marché.

« Django Unchained » puise non seulement dans les premiers westerns, mais aussi dans les séries télévisées des années 1950 et 1960, telles « Bonanza » et « Rawhide », non sans passer par les décors de la série récente sur la fièvre de l’or, « Deadwood » (2004-2006). Tarantino est épris surtout des westerns-spaghetti de Sergio Leone et de Sergio Corbucci, auteur de « Django » (1966), auquel il rend hommage en reprenant le nom du personnage et le thème musical de Luis Bacalov.

Bric-à-brac vertigineux tout en surface

Un bric-à-brac de genres, sous-genres et contre-genres chante la gloire des œuvres populaires, dans le bruit des lames de couteau et des armes à feu, où l’on tue comme on mange des cacahuètes, dans le rythme vertigineux de l’action et des dialogues interminables, dans la filiation des « Trois Mousquetaires », œuvre qui orne la bibliothèque de Calvin Candie.

On comprend la différence entre le cinéphile et le geek : le populaire absolu du western de Tarantino sorti en France en janvier 2013, contrairement aux « westerns » urbains de Scorsese dans les années 1970 ou au western mystique « Dead Man » (1995) de Jim Jarmusch, n’est pas profond. Mais, divertissement, pure surface, il surfe sur les choses et les idées, comme les accents — allemand ou du Sud — colorent les voix des acteurs, ou les effets spéciaux, les décors et les gros plans style télé de « Django Unchained » frappent les yeux et les esprits le temps d’un éclair.

On peut regretter la pensée de la caméra et la cruelle intensité existentielle de « Reservoir Dogs », mais on a du plaisir et on est gagné par le bonheur des acteurs et du metteur en scène s’adonnant à fond à cette activité inépuisable chez les êtres humains : faire semblant.

À lire aussi sur CinéObs :

– « Django Unchained » : le Tarantino de la maturité ? par Pascal Mérigeau

– Quentin Tarantino : « Au cinéma, la vengeance, ça ne craint rien », interview par Olivier Bonnard

Voir de plus:

« Django Unchained » ou l’ambiguïté de la violence dans les films de Tarantino

Célia Sauvage

Chargée d’enseignement à Paris III
Le Nouvel Obs
20-01-2013

LE PLUS. « Django Unchained » est un hommage au western spaghetti et en particulier à celui de Sergio Corbucci, « Django ». Après « Inglourious Basterds », le film se veut le deuxième épisode de Tarantino d’une trilogie sur l’oppression. Mais la représentation de la violence par le réalisateur est problématique pour Célia Sauvage, auteur de « Critiquer Quentin Tarantino est-il raisonnable ? » (en librairies le 15 février, éd. Vrin). (SPOILERS).

Alors que « Django Unchained », dernier film de Quentin Tarantino, sort aux États-Unis, le pays est encore sévèrement secoué après la tuerie de Newtown – le massacre relançant le débat sur l’influence de la violence dans les médias. Inévitablement, la réception de « Django Unchained » a été recentrée, moins sur le sujet de l’esclavage américain, que sur la violence des films du réalisateur.

Une trilogie sur l’oppression 

Pas peu fier de cultiver l’art de la polémique, le cinéaste s’est ainsi exprimé violemment contre un journaliste britannique, tentant de réinscrire ses films dans l’actualité médiatique. Tarantino refuse alors férocement de s’expliquer à nouveau sur l’absence de rapports entre le goût pour les films violents et pour la violence réelle : « Je ne mords pas à l’hameçon. Je refuse votre question. Je ne suis pas votre esclave et vous n’êtes pas mon maître. Je ne suis pas votre singe. Je réitère, je ne répondrai pas. »

Tarantino a définitivement fait taire les accusations à l’encontre de ses films jugés fun, cool, mais vides et inconséquents, en s’engageant dans ce qu’il nomme « une trilogie politique et historique sur l’oppression« , commencée en 2009 avec « Inglourious Basterds« .

L’accusation d’esthétisation de la violence, devenue un objet de spectacle gratuit, décontextualisé de toute mise en perspective morale ou politique, semble certes tomber en désuétude derrière le choix récent de sujets politiques sensibles – les Juifs durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale et l’esclavage afro-américain. Mais, le tournant en apparence politique que prend le cinéma de Tarantino cache une violence tout autant injustifiée qui mérite d’être réinterrogée.

Un argumentaire politisant et bien rôdé

Depuis « Kill Bill », on peut résumer l’ensemble des films de Tarantino à des récits de vengeance, thème de prédilection du cinéaste. Chacun des films use d’un processus de justification souvent simpliste et conservateur :

– La Mariée venge, dans un premier temps, son honneur de femme bafouée, puis, tue pour sauver son enfant : « Kill Bill » ;

– Un groupe de cascadeuses prend sa revanche sur un pervers misogyne qui tue des pauvres innocentes pour sa propre jouissance : « Boulevard de la mort » ;

– Une juive et un groupe de soldats américains partent en croisade pour corriger l’ennemi nazi : « Inglourious Basterds » ;

– Un esclave afro-américain sauve sa femme de propriétaires blancs abusifs et sadiques : « Django Unchained ».

Que la vengeance relève de motivations personnelles ou plus universelles, elle semble ainsi perdre de son caractère gratuit, sous couvert d’un argumentaire en surface politisant bien rodé.

Le premier volet de la « trilogie de l’oppression », « Inglourious Basterds », vient à première vue satisfaire un fantasme de revanche contre les plus grands méchants désignés par l’histoire de l’humanité. La violence contre les nazis serait ici une juste rétribution. Eli Roth, réalisateur ultra-violent de la série « Hostel », décrit ainsi le film comme du « porno kasher » : « ça relève presque d’une satisfaction sexuelle profonde de vouloir tuer des nazis, d’un orgasme presque. Mon personnage tue des nazis. Je peux regarder ça en boucle ». Lawrence Bender, le producteur, déclare à Tarantino : « en tant que membre de la communauté juive, je te remercie, parce que ce film est un putain de rêve pour les juifs ».

Rompre avec le politiquement correct

Pour défendre la violence de son film, le cinéaste explique lui-même avoir voulu rompre avec les traditions politiquement correctes : « Les films traitant de l’Holocauste représentent toujours les juifs comme des victimes. Je connais cette histoire. Je veux voir quelque chose de différent. Je veux voir des Allemands qui craignent les juifs. Ne tombons pas dans le misérabilisme et faisons plutôt un film d’action fun. »

Ce choix esthétique met le sujet historique au second plan et vient prouver implicitement qu’il n’a aucune perspective morale – ceci expliquant les nombreuses accusations de révisionnisme à l’encontre du film. Lorsqu’un journaliste lui fait d’ailleurs remarquer que la violence excessive contre les nazis puisse offenser certains spectateurs, Tarantino lui répond avec une désinvolture déconcertante : « Pourquoi me condamnerait-on ? Parce que j’étais trop brutal avec les nazis ? ».

« Django Unchained » est donc une réponse évidente à « Inglourious Basterds ». À nouveau, le sujet politique de fond, l’esclavage américain, semble évincé, bien qu’étant présenté comme l’argument promotionnel premier des discours de Tarantino qui répète sans hésiter qu’il a la capacité et la légitimité de faire un film sur ce sujet. Il n’hésite pas à affirmer, par une pirouette mystique, qu’il a été, dans une vie antérieure, « un esclave noir américain. Je pense même que j’ai trois vies. […] C’est juste un pressentiment. Un truc que je sais ».

Cette anecdote a été mal reçue par la communauté afro-américaine car, non seulement Tarantino réitérait une énième fois être « black inside » mais s’appropriait cette fois l’événement le plus important de l’histoire afro-américaine comme si un blanc pouvait comprendre sans difficulté ce dont la communauté afro-américaine avait pourtant mis des siècles à assimiler.

Le réalisateur afro-américain, Spike Lee, de longue date en conflit avec Tarantino, n’a d’ailleurs pas hésité à exprimer son désaccord avec ce film jugé « irrespectueux pour ses ancêtres ». Tarantino pense pourtant réaliser le film sur l’esclavage « que l’Amérique n’a jamais voulu faire parce qu’elle en a honte ».

Une nouvelle manière d’évoquer la vengeance

Dans le fond, l’idéologie et la réflexion politique intéresse peu Tarantino. L’esclavage est une nouvelle configuration de ses récits de vengeance, une nouvelle exploration d’un genre cinématographique, ici le western spaghetti. Il le dit lui-même : « J’avais envie que Django Unchained traite du voyage initiatique de mon personnage et que l’esclavagisme n’apparaisse qu’en toile de fond. Pour moi, l’histoire avait plus de sens, était plus puissante, si elle était présentée à travers un genre comme le western spaghetti qui permet l’aventure et une forme d’excitation absente des films historiques. »

À nouveau l’argument du fun, de l’excitation, vient secondariser le sujet politique. Tarantino préfère dédramatiser son propos au risque de le décontextualiser. La vengeance de Django ne semble d’ailleurs pas animée de motivations politiques. Il fait preuve de cruauté aussi bien en massacrant les oppresseurs blancs, qu’en humiliant d’autres esclaves noirs. Le film se termine sur la mort sadique par Django du traitre noir, devenu une caricature de l’oncle Tom, ami des blancs. Devenu à son tour l’opprimé oppresseur, Django s’enfuit victorieux du massacre final, paradoxalement en endossant fièrement le costume de M. Candie, le négrier monstrueux qu’il a sévèrement corrigé.

L’usage de la violence était déjà tout autant problématique à la fin d’ »Inglourious Basterds ». Durant l’Opération Kino, les nazis nous sont d’abord présentés comme un public extatique devant la violence des images de leur film de propagande. Mais dans un effet de renversement, c’est ensuite les Basterds et Shoshanna qui nous sont présentés dans le même rôle du public jouissant de la violence du spectacle. Les « Basterds » transforment d’ailleurs rapidement leur croisade, non en leçon morale d’humanité, mais plutôt en spectacle trivial, se moquant sans impunité des soldats allemands.

En décontextualisant idéologiquement les sujets politiques de fond, Tarantino facilite en un sens la consommation de son cinéma, au profit d’un plaisir plus immédiat avec ses spectateurs, dénué de toute moralisation. Mais il propose dans le même temps une vision réductrice, fétichisée, simplifiant souvent l’Histoire à l’histoire du cinéma. Cela peut paraître cool de citer des discours transgressifs sur la violence mais, sur le mode de la fétichisation, Tarantino occulte tout l’arrière-plan historique

Voir aussi:

‘Give me a break’ – Tarantino tires of defending ultra-violent films after Sandy Hook massacre
The Django Unchained director spoke at a press conference in New York a day after Friday’s Connecticut massacre
Matilda Battersby
The Independant
18 December 2012

In the wake of Friday’s shootings at a school in Connecticut which left 26 dead, arts events across America were cancelled.

But director of ultra-violent film Django Unchained went ahead with a press junket on Saturday, and went on to remark that he is tired of defending his films every time America is rocked by gun violence.

Speaking in New York Quentin Tarantino said: “I just think you know there’s violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers. It’s a western. Give me a break. »

The Oscar-nominated director of Inglourious Basterds and the Palme d’Or winning Pulp Fiction, said blame for violence should remain squarely with the perpetrators.

At the weekend both the Jack Reacher and Parental Guidance film premieres were cancelled in response to Friday’s massacre.

Reacher, which stars Tom Cruise, features a sniper attack. A spokesman for Paramount Pictures said: « Due to the terrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, and out of honour and respect for the families of the victims whose lives were senselessly taken, we are postponing the Pittsburgh premiere of Jack Reacher. Our hearts go out to all those who lost loved ones. »

Speaking of the cancelled red carpet premiere and party for Parental Guidance, which stars Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei, a Fox spokesman said: « In light of the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut we are cancelling the red carpet event and the after party for the Parental Guidance premiere, scheduled today in downtown Los Angeles. The hearts of all involved with this film go out to the victims, their families, their community, and our entire nation in mourning.”

Fox TV screened repeats of comedy series Family Guy and American Dad last night instead of the scheduled Christmas specials, both of which are said to have featured school children and were deemed potentially insensitive.

Twenty children and six women died in the attack at Sandy Hook school by a gunman who shot himself dead at the scene.

Voir également:

Etats-Unis. La police veut boycotter les films de Tarantino
Courrier international
29/10/2015

Les syndicats de policiers de New York et de Los Angeles s’insurgent contre les propos tenus par le réalisateur hollywoodien lors d’une récente manifestation contre les violences policières.

“Le plus grand syndicat de police de Los Angeles soutient l’appel au boycott des films de Quentin Tarantino lancé par le NYPD [le département de police de New York]”, rapporte le Los Angeles Times.

Lors d’une manifestation contre les violences policières organisée samedi 24 octobre dans la Grosse Pomme, le réalisateur a en effet déclaré : “Je suis un être humain doué de conscience. Si vous estimez que des meurtres sont commis, alors vous devez vous insurger contre cet état de fait. Je suis ici pour dire que je suis du côté de ceux qui ont été assassinés.”

Cette phrase, prononcée quelques jours seulement “après la mort d’un officier de police du NYPD lors d’une course-poursuite d’un suspect dans le quartier de East Harlem” a mis le feu aux poudres, souligne le quotidien de Los Angeles.

Dans un communiqué publié le 27 octobre, la Los Angeles Police Protective League, le principal syndicat de police de Los Angeles, a dénoncé les “propos incendiaires” du réalisateur. “Nous sommes en faveur d’un dialogue constructif sur la façon dont la police interagit avec les citoyens de ce pays, peut-on y lire, mais il n’y a pas place pour les propos incendiaires qui font des policiers des cibles de choix.”

Le prochain film de Quentin Tarantino, un western intitulé The Hateful Eight (Les Huit Salopards), doit sortir sur les écrans américains le jour de Noël, le 6 janvier en France.

Voir encore:

Violences policières
Les policiers américains toujours en colère contre Tarantino

Caroline Besse
Télérama

30/10/2015

Le réalisateur avait participé à un rassemblement à New York dénonçant la mort de plusieurs personnes noires à la suite d’interpellations violentes. Les syndicats des forces de l’ordre l’accusent de jeter de l’huile sur le feu.
Quentin Tarantino ne se doutait certainement pas que sa participation au rassemblement du 24 octobre contre les violences « et la terreur » policières, à laquelle il a participé le week-end dernier à New York, provoquerait une telle ire de la part de la police. Après ceux de New York et de Los Angeles, le syndicat de police de Philadelphie a en effet appelé au boycott des films du réalisateur de Pulp Fiction après sa participation à la manifestation. Baptisé « Rise up October », ce rassemblement était organisé pour dénoncer la mort de plusieurs personnes noires après de violentes interpellations policières — récemment, Michael Brown à Ferguson, Christian Taylor au Texas ou Freddie Gray à Baltimore… Des morts qui avaient ensuite provoqué des émeutes.

 « Monsieur Tarantino gagne bien sa vie grâce à ses films, diffusant de la violence dans la société, et montrant du respect pour des criminels. Et maintenant, on se rend compte qu’il déteste les flics », a notamment déclaré le Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5. « La rhétorique haineuse déshumanise la police et encourage les attaques à notre encontre », a-t-il ajouté. « Le réalisateur Quentin Tarantino a pris part d’une façon irresponsable et totalement inacceptable à ce qui s’est passé le week-end dernier à New York en assimilant les policiers à des meutriers », a dit de son côté la Los Angeles Police Protective League.

« Je suis un être humain avec une conscience… Si vous pensez qu’un meurtre est en train d’être perpétré, vous devez intervenir. Je suis ici pour dire que je suis du côté des victimes », avait notamment déclaré le réalisateur devant la foule présente. « Je dois appeler un meutre un meurtre, et des meutriers des meurtriers. »

Selon le New York Post, certains manifestants portaient des badges où il était inscrit : « Réagissez ! Stop à la terreur policière ! » ou encore : « Un meurtre commis par quelqu’un qui porte un insigne est toujours un meurtre. » A l’issue du rassemblement, onze personnes avaient d’ailleurs été arrêtées.

“C’est un mauvais timing.”
« Honte à lui, particulièrement au moment où nous portons le deuil, après le meurtre d’un policier new-yorkais », avait déclaré le chef de la police de la ville, Bill Bratton. Le rassemblement avait en effet eu lieu quatre jours après le meurtre d’un policier, l’agent du NYPD Randolph Holder, tué d’une balle dans le front alors qu’il poursuivait un homme armé dans Harlem. Interrogé sur ces fâcheuses circonstances, Tarantino avait répondu : « C’est comme ça. C’est un mauvais timing. Mais nous avons demandé à toutes ces familles de venir, et de raconter leur histoire. Ce flic tué, c’est aussi une tragédie. »

Alors que Quentin Tarantino est depuis silencieux, Carl Dix, l’un des organisateurs du mouvement Rising October, a comparé l’appel au boycott des films par la police à l’attitude qu’aurait pu avoir la mafia : « Surtout, ne vous aventurez pas à critiquer la police qui tue des gens, ou il vous sera impossible de travailler dans la ville. » Selon lui, le message de la police est une menace qui ne vise pas seulement le réalisateur, mais toutes les voix qui comptent dans la société.

Voir de même:

Quentin Tarantino : la police de New York appelle au boycott de ses films
Metro

26-10-2015

TRUE STORY – Quentin Tarantino est la cible des policiers new-yorkais. La raison ? Le réalisateur a fait le déplacement depuis Los Angeles pour participer à une manifestation ce samedi dans les rues de la Grande Pomme contre les violences policières. Un engagement qui n’est pas du tout du goût des forces de l’ordre…

Le réalisateur de Pulp Fiction n’est pas prêt de voir les policiers new-yorkais assister à la projection de son prochain film. Un froid qui survient après la participation de Quentin Tarantino au rassemblement « Rise Up October », soit une manifestation de trois jours organisée à New York pour mettre fin à la violence policière et réclamer une réforme du système judiciaire.

Les participants ont prononcé les noms des 250 victimes non armées tuées par des agents de police depuis 1990. Dont celui de Michael Brown, 18 ans, un adolescent afro-américain abattu par la police à Ferguson (Missouri) en août 2014, un décès qui avait provoqué des émeutes dans tous les États-Unis, ou encore celui de Tamir Rice, 12 ans, tué par les forces de l’ordre alors qu’il jouait avec un pistolet en plastique en novembre 2014 à Cleveland (Ohio). Les manifestants brandissaient des pancartes ou des photos de leurs proches victimes d’abus de la police.

C’est un timing maladroit qui a provoqué la colère de la police

Une réunion anti « terreur policière » pour laquelle Quentin Tarantino a prononcé quelques mots : « Quand je vois des meurtres, je ne reste pas là sans rien faire… Il faut appeler les meurtriers des meurtriers ». Malheureusement, quelques jours plus tôt un agent de la police de New-York tombait, tué d’une balle dans la tête par un suspect récidiviste, dans l’exercice de son travail.

Déjà quatre policiers New-yorkais sont morts depuis moins d’un an à New-York. De tristes chiffres qui restent le fruit des lois sur les armes à feu des États-Unis, où les forces de l’ordre sont forcément plus exposées au risque d’être confrontées à des suspects armés qu’en Europe par exemple.

Patrick Lynch, président d’une association d’agents des forces de l’ordre de New York, n’a pas pu se taire face à la présence de Quentin Tarantino à ces journées de protestations : « Ce n’est pas étonnant que quelqu’un qui gagne sa vie en glorifiant le crime et la violence déteste les policiers » a-t-il déclaré au New-York Post, avant d’ajouter : « Les officiers de police que Tarantino appelle des meurtriers ne vivent pas dans une de ses fictions dépravées sur grand écran. Ils prennent des risques et doivent parfois même sacrifier leur vie afin de protéger les communautés des vrais crimes. (…) Il est temps de boycotter les films de Quentin Tarantino”.

Les 8 Salopards, prévu pour une sortie le 6 janvier 2016 ne risque pas d’attirer beaucoup d’agents de la Grande Pomme en salles…

Voir aussi:

Police union calls for Tarantino boycott after anti-cop rally
By Dana Sauchelli, Priscilla DeGregory, Daniel Prendergast, Tom Wilson and Larry Celona
The New York Post

October 25, 2015

The city’s police union is calling for a boycott of Quentin Tarantino films after the “Pulp Fiction’’ director took part in an anti-cop rally less than a week after an officer was killed on the job.

“When I see murders, I do not stand by . . . I have to call the murderers the murderers,” the director — notorious for his violent movies — told a crowd of protesters in Washington Square Park on Saturday, adding that cops are too often “murderers.”

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, lashed out against the “Reservoir Dogs” auteur Sunday.

“It’s no surprise that someone who makes a living glorifying crime and violence is a cop-hater, too,” Lynch said in a statement.

“The police officers that Quentin Tarantino calls ‘murderers’ aren’t living in one of his depraved big-screen fantasies — they’re risking and sometimes sacrificing their lives to protect communities from real crime and mayhem.

“New Yorkers need to send a message to this purveyor of degeneracy that he has no business coming to our city to peddle his slanderous ‘Cop Fiction.’ ”

Tarantino acknowledged Saturday that the timing of the rally was “unfortunate.” But he said people had already traveled to be a part of the gathering.

Relatives of Police Officer Randolph Holder, who was killed in East Harlem Tuesday night, were far from appeased.

“I think it’s very disrespectful,” his cousin Shauntel Abrams, 27, said of the protest as she and other relatives gathered at the Church of the Nazarene in Far Rockaway ahead of Holder’s funeral Wednesday.

“Everyone forgets that behind the uniform is a person.”

Meanwhile, retired Police Officer John Mangan, who used to work at PSA 5, where Holder had been stationed, took to the streets on Sunday with a sign reading, “God bless the NYPD,” for a one-man march.

He walked the 7¹/₂ miles from the East Harlem station house to City Hall in a show of support for the fallen cop.

Voir de plus:

LAPD union joins NYPD in call to boycott Quentin Tarantino films

Director Quentin Tarantino participates in a rally to protest police brutality in New York.

James Queally

LA Times (Associated Press)

October 25, 2015

The Los Angeles Police Department’s largest union has thrown its support behind the NYPD’s call for a boycott of Quentin Tarantino’s films after the « Pulp Fiction » director referred to some police officers as murderers during a rally in New York City over the weekend.

Los Angeles Police Protective League President Craig Lally said comments like Tarantino’s encourage attacks on officers and said the union would support the call for a boycott of his films.

Tarantino flew from California to New York City to take part in a protest against police brutality on Saturday, and comments he made during the march quickly drew the ire of the New York Police Department’s Patrolmen’s Benevolent Assn.

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« I’m a human being with a conscience, » Tarantino said, according to the Associated Press. « And 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. »

Ambushes of police are rising again at a difficult time for law enforcement
The comments, which came just days after New York police Officer Randolph Holder was shot and killed while chasing a suspect in East Harlem, prompted furious reactions from NYPD union President Pat Lynch and Police Commissioner William Bratton.

“We fully support constructive dialogue about how police interact with citizens. But there is no place for inflammatory rhetoric that makes police officers even bigger targets than we already are, » Lally said in a statement this week. « Film director Quentin Tarantino took irresponsibility to a new and completely unacceptable level this past weekend by referring to police as murderers during an anti-police march in New York. »

Tarantino’s films are notoriously violent, something critics were quick to harp on. While one of the director’s most iconic scenes involved the torture and eventual murder of a police officer in « Reservoir Dogs,” scores of gangsters, soldiers and other characters have found themselves decapitated or otherwise killed in gruesome fashion in a Tarantino film.

« The Hateful Eight, » a western directed by Tarantino, is set to premiere on Christmas Day.

Voir également:

Tarantino On ‘Django,’ Violence And Catharsis
NPR Staff
December 28, 2012

Transcript

Director Quentin Tarantino has not shied away from painful parts of history. He handled World War II in Inglourious Basterds and now delves into slavery in Django Unchained.

In Quentin Tarantino’s new film, Django Unchained, Jamie Foxx plays the title character, a freed slave turned bounty hunter searching for his wife and their plantation tormentors.

As is the case with all of Tarantino’s films, Django Unchained is incredibly violent. We spoke to the director before the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., and before critics had taken him to task for the film’s brutality. The film also is being debated for the way it brings humor to the story of slavery.

Yet Tarantino insisted then — as he does now — that his new film has a good heart. It’s a love story, he says. And, as with his previous film Inglourious Basterds, it’s also a brand of revisionist history he hopes Americans will find cathartic.

Tarantino speaks with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish about the touchy topics of the film and what he hopes the audience will bring away from it.

Interview Highlights

On making a traditionally somber topic the subject of an action movie

« I do think it’s a cultural catharsis, and it’s a cinematic catharsis. Even — it can even be good for the soul, actually. I mean, not to sound like a brute, but one of the things though that I actually think can be a drag for a whole lot of people about watching a movie about, either dealing with slavery or dealing with the Holocaust, is just, it’s just going to be pain, pain and more pain. And at some point, all those Holocaust TV movies — it’s like, ‘God, I just can’t watch another one of these.’ But to actually take an action story and put it in that kind of backdrop where slavery or the pain of World War II is the backdrop of an exciting adventure story — that can be something else. And then in my adventure story, I can have the people who are historically portrayed as the victims be the victors and the avengers. »

On walking the line between entertainment and exploitation

« I’m not coming from an exploitive place. If you shoot sex like an artist, it’s an artistic representation. If you shoot sex like a pornographer, then it looks like pornography. I want you to see America in 1858 in Chickasaw County [Miss.], and I think we need to see that. You know, it might be one of those things. At the very end of the day, who knows? We’ll find out — court of public opinion will say. But it might be one of those things where, God, you know, maybe it is actually too rough, too painful for a lot of black folks of this generation. But there’s the next generation coming out, and they’re going to live in a world where Django Unchained already exists. »

On why he thinks Hollywood is afraid to approach the subject matter the way he does

« You know, there’s not this big demand for, you know, movies that deal with the darkest part of America’s history, and the part that we’re still paying for to this day. They’re scared of how white audiences are going to feel about it; they’re scared about how black audiences are going to feel about it. And if you tell the story and … you mess it up, you’ve really messed it up.

Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), a slave owner, holds Django’s wife captive.
Andrew Cooper/The Weinstein Company
« To tell you the truth, a couple of white Southern actors were offended by it. No black actors that I know of were offended. And I never heard any black actors say an unequivocal ‘No.’ « 

On the idea that white audience members will have a hard time connecting with the subject

« If you have a white audience member sitting there watching the movie, and they’re sitting there and they’re thinking, ‘Well, I didn’t do this. My family didn’t make money off of this, so I have nothing to do with this, nor does anybody in my family have anything to do with this,’ that’s actually a completely fair statement, you know. People don’t have to feel personally guilty about stuff that happened a hundred years ago, but what I expect those people to do is go and see the movie and completely identify with Django 100 percent. And his triumph is their triumph. And they’re going to be cheering him along all the way, and maybe even sometimes, every once in a while, even a little louder. »

Voir par ailleurs:

Quentin Tarantino, ‘Unchained’ And Unruly
NPR

January 02, 2013

Transcript

Quentin Tarantino’s film Django Unchained is a spaghetti western-inspired revenge film set in the antebellum South; it’s about a former slave who teams up with a bounty hunter to target the plantation owner who owns his wife.

The cinematic violence that has come to characterize Tarantino’s work as a screenwriter and director — from Reservoir Dogs at the start of his career in 1992 to 2009’s Inglourious Basterds — is front and center again in Django. And he’s making no apologies.

« What happened during slavery times is a thousand times worse than [what] I show, » he says. « So if I were to show it a thousand times worse, to me, that wouldn’t be exploitative, that would just be how it is. If you can’t take it, you can’t take it.

« Now, I wasn’t trying to do a Schindler’s List you-are-there-under-the-barbed-wire-of-Auschwitz. I wanted the film to be more entertaining than that. … But there’s two types of violence in this film: There’s the brutal reality that slaves lived under for … 245 years, and then there’s the violence of Django’s retribution. And that’s movie violence, and that’s fun and that’s cool, and that’s really enjoyable and kind of what you’re waiting for. »

That said, Tarantino is clear about what — for him — is acceptable violence in a movie and what crosses a line.

« The only thing that I’ve ever watched in a movie that I wished I’d never seen is real-life animal death or real-life insect death in a movie. That’s absolutely, positively where I draw the line. And a lot of European and Asian movies do that, and we even did that in America for a little bit of time. … I don’t like seeing animals murdered on screen. Movies are about make-believe. … I don’t think there’s any place in a movie for real death. »

In the case of Django, Tarantino tells Fresh Air host Terry Gross that he was much more uncomfortable with the prospect of writing the language of white supremacists and directing African-Americans in scenes depicting slavery on American soil than he was about any physical violence being portrayed. His anxiety about directing the slavery scenes was so great, in fact, that he considered shooting abroad.

« I actually went out after I finished the script … with Sidney Poitier for dinner, » he says. « And was telling him about my story, and then telling him about my trepidation and my little plan of how I was going to get past it, and he said, … ‘Quentin, I don’t think you should do that. … What you’re just telling me is you’re a little afraid of your own movie, and you just need to get over that. If you’re going to tell this story, you need to not be afraid of it. You need to do it. Everyone gets it. Everyone knows what’s going on. We’re making a movie. They get it.' »

Interview Highlights
On the catchphrase ‘The D is silent’

« I thought everyone would know how to say the name ‘Django.’ Even if it wasn’t from the spaghetti westerns, at least from Django Reinhardt you would know how to say it. And people would read the script [and say], ‘Oh! D-jango Unchained. OK! » And people would say it all the time. Frankly, I considered it an intelligence test. If you say D-jango you’re definitely going down in my book. »

On conventional slave narratives on screen

There haven’t been that many slave narratives in the last 40 years of cinema, and usually when there are, they’re usually done on television, and for the most part … they’re historical movies, like history with a capital H. Basically, ‘This happened, then this happened, then that happened, then this happened.’ And that can be fine, well enough, but for the most part they keep you at arm’s length dramatically.
« There haven’t been that many slave narratives in the last 40 years of cinema, and usually when there are, they’re usually done on television, and for the most part … they’re historical movies, like history with a capital H. Basically, ‘This happened, then this happened, then that happened, then this happened.’ And that can be fine, well enough, but for the most part they keep you at arm’s length dramatically. Because also there is this kind of level of good taste that they’re trying to deal with … and frankly oftentimes they just feel like dusty textbooks just barely dramatized. »

On giving an enslaved character a heroic journey

« I like the idea of telling these stories and taking stories that oftentimes — if played out in the way that they’re normally played out — just end up becoming soul-deadening, because you’re just watching victimization all the time. And now you get a chance to put a spin on it and actually take a slave character and give him a heroic journey, make him heroic, make him give his payback, and actually show this epic journey and give it the kind of folkloric tale that it deserves — the kind of grand-opera stage it deserves. »

On how Westerns from different decades reflect the concerns of their times

« One of the things that’s interesting about Westerns in particular is [that] there’s no other genre that reflects the decade that they were made or the morals and the feelings of Americans during that decade [more] than Westerns. Westerns are always a magnifying glass as far as that’s concerned.

« The Westerns of the ’50s definitely have an Eisenhower, birth of suburbia and plentiful times aspect to them. America started little by little catching up with its racist past by the ’50s, at the very, very beginning of [that decade], and that started being reflected in Westerns. Consequently, the late ’60s have a very Vietnam vibe to the Westerns, leading into the ’70s. And by the mid-’70s, you know, most of the Westerns literally could be called ‘Watergate Westerns,’ because it was about disillusionment and tearing down the myths that we have spent so much time building up. »

On his early introductions to African-American culture

« [My mother’s] boyfriends would come over, and they’d … take me to blaxploitation movies, trying to, you know, get me to like them and buy me footballs and stuff, and … my mom and her friends would take me to cool bars and stuff, where they’d be playing cool, live rhythm-and-blues music … and I’d be drinking … Shirley Temples — I think I called them James Bond because I didn’t like the name Shirley Temples — and eat Mexican food … while Jimmy Soul and a cool band would be, you know, playing in some lava lounge-y kind of ’70s cocktail lounge. It was really cool. It made me grow up in a real big way. When I would hang around with kids I’d think they were really childish. I used to hang around with really groovy adults. »

Voir encore:

Le prochain Tarantino s’appellera « Les Huit Salopards » en version française
Le Parisien

16 Sept. 2015

« The Hateful Eight »- « Les Huit Salopards » sortira dans les salles obscures début 2016. All Rights Reserved
Le distributeur du 8e long-métrage de Quentin Tarantino, SND, vient d’annoncer le titre français du film « The Hateful Eight ».

La décision est en grande partie celle du réalisateur lui-même qui souhaite renouer avec les racines du western américain.

 Aussi, le film a été tourné dans un format aujourd’hui disparu, le 70mm Panavision, et  la musique est signée par Ennio Morricone, le compositeur italien connu pour avoir imaginé les bandes originales de « Pour une poignée de dollars », « Le Bon, la Brute, et le Truand » ou encore « Il était une fois dans l’Ouest ».

« Les Huit Salopards » fait référence au film « Les Douze Salopards » de Robert Aldrich, et « Les Sept Salopards » de Bruno Fontana.

Il s’agit du deuxième western du cinéaste, trois ans après « Django Unchained ». « The Hateful Eight » plante son décor dans le désert enneigé du Wyoming juste après la guerre civile américaine (1861-1865). Huit personnes sont coincées dans un relais de diligence en raison d’une tempête de neige qui empêche la progression de leur diligence. Samuel L. Jackson sera Warren, alias « The Bounty Hunter ». Kurt Russel incarnera « The Gunman » John Ruth. Seule femme de la bande, « The Prisoner » Daisy Domergue sera campée par Jennifer Jason Leigh. « The Sherif » Chris Mannix sera interprété par Walton Goggins. Demian Bichir héritera du rôle de Bob « The Mexican ». Tim Roth sera Oswaldo Mobray « The Little Man ». Michael Madsen prêtera ses traits à Joe Gage « The Cow Puncher » et Bruce Dern interprétera « The Confederate » Sandy Smithers.

« The Hateful Eight » ou « Les Huit Salopards » sortira le 8 janvier 2016 aux États-Unis, en attendant une date française.

Voir enfin:

Chiraq de Spike Lee suscite la polémique à Chicago
Jérôme Lachasse
Le Figaro

01/06/2015

Le titre du nouveau long métrage du réalisateur de Malcolm X, en référence à la violence par armes à feu, irrite les habitants de la ville des vents, où le tournage vient de commencer.

Le nouveau film de Spike Lee, Chiraq, suscite la polémique à Chicago, où le tournage vient de débuter. En cause: le titre. Cette expression, contraction de «Chicago» et d’«Iraq», a été inventée par des rappeurs locaux en référence à une zone du sud de la ville où la violence par armes à feu prolifère. Plusieurs hommes politiques ont déjà dénoncé ce titre qui risque, selon eux, d’offrir une vision négative de la ville des vents. Le maire de Chicago Rahm Emanuel (Parti démocrate) a contesté le mois dernier le titre, indiquant que la ville devrait avoir son mot à dire après la réduction fiscale de 3 millions de dollars accordée au long métrage.

Les Chicagoans, confrontés chaque jour à la violence, voient eux aussi d’un mauvais œil le tournage, rapporte le New York Times. Janelle Rush, une étudiante de 24 ans citée par le quotidien américain, n’apprécie pas le titre, mais pense «qu’il serait judicieux de montrer les quartiers de la ville que les médias ne montrent pas». Elle espère cependant «que[ce film] pourra renverser la tendance et présenter [Chicago] sous un aspect positif. Pour révéler qu’il y a autre chose que la violence par armes à feu».

Pour le moment, Spike Lee n’a pas confirmé publiquement le sens de son titre. Chiraq, toujours selon le New York Times, pourrait ainsi être une réécriture de la pièce d’Aristophane Lysistrata, où les femmes entament une grève du sexe pour contraindre les hommes à arrêter la guerre du Péloponnèse. Le réalisateur de Malcolm X (1992) a néanmoins posté le 28 mai sur son compte Instagram une image du clap de tournage. Sur celui-ci est écrit «Peace».

Un temps annoncé au casting, Kanye West a dû annuler sa participation en raison de son emploi du temps chargé. Il pourrait cependant contribuer à la bande originale. John Cusack, Jennifer Hudson, Jeremy Piven, Samuel L. Jackson et Common sont, eux, à l’affiche de ce long métrage produit et distribué par Amazon Studios. La date de sortie n’est pas encore connue.

2 commentaires pour Armes à feu: Quand Hollywood dénonce la violence qu’il a lui-même semée (Who needs the NRA when you’ve got Hollywood ?)

  1. jcdurbant dit :

    When we say fry them, we’re not speaking of killing a police officer…we’re saying, treat the police the same as you’re going to treat a civilian who commits murder against a police officer.

    Black lives matter activist

    J'aime

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