On Monday evening, news broke regarding wildly overrated director Quentin Tarantino: Tarantino told Howard Stern in 2003 that director Roman Polanski hadn’t actually raped his 13-year-old victim. You can listen to the audio here. It’s pretty horrific. By the same token, Whoopi Goldberg said exactly the same thing, and she’s still on The View. Tarantino has also admitted that he knew that Harvey Weinstein was a sexual abuser, and that he said nothing.
But that’s not the stuff that’s gotten Tarantino into hot water. What’s gotten him into hot water are the allegations that while filming Kill Bill, he somehow forced actress Uma Thurman into a car crash, as well as choking her and spitting on her, and that he also forced Diane Kruger to let him strangle her while on the set of Inglorious Basterds. Maureen Dowd of The New York Times originally reported on these incidents. Here’s what she wrote:
Thurman says that in “Kill Bill,” Tarantino had done the honors with some of the sadistic flourishes himself, spitting in her face in the scene where Michael Madsen is seen on screen doing it and choking her with a chain in the scene where a teenager named Gogo is on screen doing it.
The implication is clear: Tarantino is a sadistic weirdo who hates women. Now, Tarantino may indeed be a sadistic weirdo who hates women. His films are filled with sadistic anti-woman weirdness. But there’s no evidence that Tarantino did anything wrong in the filming of these incidents. Kruger hasn’t alleged that Tarantino assaulted her. Neither has Thurman. In fact, both actresses agreed to let Tarantino choke them for shots in the film, and Thurman agreed to let Tarantino spit on her. It seems to cut against female empowerment to state that rich, famous, beautiful women can’t consent to their directors involving themselves in filming for purposes of getting a certain shot. But that’s what feminists are now claiming.
Jessica Chastain, for example, says that no film should include the kind of abuse of women featured in Kill Bill, for feminist reasons:
This is insipid. Virtually every film features a main character being abused. That’s part of a normal story arc. Now, that abuse may be over the top. It may not be to my tastes or Chastain’s (I generally don’t like Tarantino’s overwrought, hysterical snuff films). But Sigourney Weaver takes it on the chin in Aliens, and she’s the heroine of the picture. Charlize Theron gets the crap kicked out of her in Atomic Blonde, and she’s the heroine.
Rape in film usually isn't a plot device designed to "empower" a female character — sometimes it’s part of the story. It’s not rape that makes female heroines strong — it’s that they were already strong and were able to overcome something horrific. And that logic isn’t just true for women. Name an action movie in which our hero isn’t the victim of serious abuse. That’s part of a thing called plot. Furthermore, who is Chastain to tell Thurman or Kruger that they can’t consent to Tarantino’s involvement in filming in a certain way?
Tarantino is probably a creep. But for the #MeToo movement to suggest that the reason he’s a creep isn’t his take on Polanski but his fully consensual behavior with actresses in front of dozens of employees on film — that take is too scorching for even the #MeToo movement to handle.