Dear Mr. Tarantino:
Greetings, and Happy Holidays, sir. I hope that you’re well this fine Christmas Eve, and the imminent premiere of your newest film Django Unchained hasn’t hindered your holiday shopping. Which brings me to the reason for my humble letter to you.
Personally, I’ve always been a huge fan of your writing and directing work, Mr. Tarantino. Even in spite of your incessant and foul usage of the n-word. You’re a brilliant filmmaker who can’t be denied. But when news about Django Unchained recently started swirling, all I could think was, “Here we go again with Quentin Tarantino and this n-word bullshit.”
You’ve obviously been suffering withdrawal from your beloved n-word, because you’ve returned to overusing the word seemingly on steroids. You volley the n-word around in Django Unchained over 110 times, all under the guise of “historical accuracy.” But that’s bullshit. You’re not concerned about being historical or accurate. You just have some sick obsession with the n-word, and it’s way more racist than historic.
Here, let me show you, as we take a walk down memory lane through your employment of the n-word like it was the most privileged extra in Hollywood.
Reservoir Dogs, 1992: I cringed when Steve Buscemi’s “Mr. Pink” character broke up a quarrel among the Dogs and railed, “You guys act like a bunch of fuckin’ niggers! You wanna be niggers, huh? They’re just like you two, always fightin’ and always sayin’ their gonna kill each other!” Cinematically it was a cool scene, but how you used the n-word in such a vile context got under my skin. And you went on to use the word at least five more times before the credits rolled. But, hey, I’m a black man with thick skin. I got over it. It was a great film.
Next, enter True Romance in 1993. I know, you didn’t direct the film, but you wrote the screenplay. And you ping-ponged the n-word around no less than six times in this one, in a context even worse than Reservoir Dogs. Dennis Hopper’s “Clifford Worley” character viciously stammered, “Sicilians were spawned by niggers. The Moors conquered Sicily. And the Moors are niggers. So Sicilians still carry that nigger gene.” Now, that was foul, Quentin. You sounded like a straight up ignorant racist with that one, because even a cursory search of history proves that the Moors were one of the most advanced societies the world has ever known. I was deeply offended.
Then came Pulp Fiction, your 1994 cult favorite that you’re most notable for. This is where it seems that use of the n-bomb got really good to you. The word was tossed around as a cameo character at least 13 times. No one will ever forget Jimmie Dimmick – the character you insisted on playing yourself – reprimanding Jules Winnfield: “Did you notice a sign out in front of my house that said Dead Nigger Storage? You know why you didn’t see that sign? ‘Cause storing dead niggers ain’t my fucking business, that’s why!” Oh, and Jules just happened to be black. For the first time, we didn’t just hear the n-word in your movies, but we heard you spew it from your own lips. And the context was as racist as a Neo-Nazi. That was it for me. I had heard, and now seen, enough. I was done with you and your films, Mr. Tarantino.
By the time you released Jackie Brown three years later in 1997, I was livid. So when Spike Lee stepped up and took you to task about the film’s 38 n-words, I was rallying with him. And Spike’s browbeating seemingly worked, because you ceased from using the word. Ten years passed, during which time you dropped the brilliantly entertaining Kill Bill volumes, as well as Sin City, and they all were completely void of the n-word. In the first Kill Bill, you even opted to use “colored” to describe the organ player at the wedding of “The Bride.” I thought, “Ok. Quentin has chilled on using the n-bomb. Cool. I can get down with him again, now that his films aren’t so offensive anymore.”
Then, ten years later in 2007, you dropped Death Proof. This is where you started twitching. You made a mild return to your obsession with the n-word through Tracie Thoms’s character “Kim.” She dropped the n-bomb no less than seven times. Not surprisingly, Death Proof was the worst film you ever made. You even admitted yourself that the film was garbage. And how could it be otherwise? You were obviously scratching and shaking in withdrawal while you were writing it, anxious to toss the n-word around like a fiend, in the fashion that you formerly did.
And now, enter Django Unchained. 110 n-words, in 160 minutes, in a movie about slavery. You say your excessive use of the word this time around is for “historical accuracy,” but, I say again, that’s bullshit. First, use of the N-word over 100 times isn’t necessary to drive history home. I regret to inform you, Mr. Tarantino, but Django isn’t the first film about slavery. Your audience and fans already know about the racist brutality of slavery - via films like Roots, Queen, Amistad, et. al - without having the n-word driven down our throats. And second, your record of using the word is obviously derived from a racist vantage point, as illustrated in Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, and especially Pulp Fiction.
So, Mr. Tarantino, I’m humbly asking you to chill on the n-word. Please. You’re a cool dude, but you’re not Carl van Vechten a la the Harlem Renaissance. And I know you have a lot of notable black friends, like RZA of the Wu Tang Clan, Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, and a few others. But you’re not black, no matter how many Dada sweatshirts and Kangol hats you wear.
I love your work as a filmmaker, and I think it’s safe to say that most black people feel the same way. However, your history with the n-word is not proper – it’s offensive. And after employing the word nearly 200 times in just six films throughout your career, I think everyone in America would agree that you’ve slung it enough.
Happy Holidays to you, Mr. Tarantino, and a prosperous New Year as well.
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