Quentin Tarantino drew comprehensive criticism from the NYPD this past weekend after attending an anti-police brutality protest in New York City. While his presence may have bothered some considering the increase in media attention the rally got, the Hateful Eight director’s comment caused more of a stir. “When I see murder, I do not stand by…I have to call a murder a murder and I have to call the murderers the murderers,” said Tarantino. While Tarantino’s statement does not at all appear to generalize police officers, the NYPD was swift to take offense and respond. Department spokesperson and Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch issued the following statement (via AFP).
“It’s no surprise that someone who makes a living glorifying crime and violence is a cop-hater, too. 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.’ It’s time for a boycott of Quentin Tarantino’s films.”
It’s hard to ignore the glaring assumptions made in Lynch’s statement but that hasn’t stopped others from joining in on the boycott started by New York’s largest police union. The Los Angeles Police Protective League announced their support of the boycott today, pinning Tarantino between sudden waves of bi-coastal opposition. LAPPL president Craig Lally said today, “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. 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 however, in his statement, does not explicitly paint all police officers as murderers nor does he assume they are.
Lally added, “We fully support this boycott of Quentin Tarantino films. Hateful rhetoric dehumanizes police and encourages attacks on us. And questioning everything we do threatens public safety by discouraging officers from putting themselves in positions where their legitimate actions could be falsely portrayed as thuggery.”
One can only imagine how many truly incendiary remarks were made by others during the rally on Saturday, but it was Tarantino’s softer statement that stirred the most response. Rallies and marches aren’t rare occurences for police departments, nor are the much more harsh and sometimes undeserving jabs sent their way. But when police unions in two of the largest cities in the country decide to issue a boycott, one has to wonder whether the two groups are taking aim at Tarantino solitarily because of his words, or because of who he is and what he does. And even then, is there any weight or relevancy to that? What’s worse is that the subsequent boycotting of his films overlooks the real issue at hand and discredits not only efforts by police to improve relations, but also the collective sentiments from that rally.
Police across the country are facing an uphill battle as they try to deconstruct a damning stigma that has never been more pervasive, especially with the capabilities of social media. The steep degree of the proverbial hill only gets steeper when large organizations representing these police damage their own efforts by acting petulantly, retaliating against Tarantino simply because of who he is and what he does, and also because he’s the only one with anything tangible to exusably damage back.
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