Although they are estranged, actor Tony Tarantino is the father of Oscar-winning director Quentin Tarantino, and late last week the elder Tarantino made headlines speaking out against the objectively appalling comments his famous son made ten days ago at an anti-cop hate rally. Quentin Tarantino described police officers as “murderers,” and Tony Tarantino believes he has an obligation to his family to speak out in defense of law enforcement.
So far the fallout from the comments has been breathtaking. Police organizations from all over the country have called for a boycott of Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film “The Hateful Eight.” The backlash continued to grow Monday when border patrol agents joined the boycott.
During a phone interview from his home in California late Monday morning, Mr. Tarantino told Breitbart News that with four police officers in his family, one killed and the other horribly injured in the line of duty, he could not stay silent.
Had Quentin “pinpointed his comments to a particular abuse situation, or an officer who was out of line, that would have been fine,” Mr. Tarantino explained. “But not to describe an entire department as killers and murderers.”
Mr. Tarantino said he would like to see his son apologize for his comments, but only if the apology is sincere. He hopes the uproar helps his son wake up to see the other side of the issue. Considering the content found in his sons movies, Mr. Tarantino volunteered that he finds Quentin Tarantino’s gun control stance a tad absurd.
BREITBART NEWS NETWORK: What made you decide to speak out?
TONY TARANTINO: Because of how close this is to me and my family. I have four cousins who are NYPD. One was left a paraplegic in the line of duty, another was killed on duty. Two others did manage to make it to retirement.
BNN: So after your son spoke out, you felt as a Tarantino, and on behalf of your family that you needed to say something?
TT: Absolutely. I’m sorry for what he did, and did without thinking.
BNN: And it hurt your family.
TT: Yes. Bigtime. You have cops all over the country in public service. They put on that uniform and walk out on those streets and they don’t know if they are going to make it home that night to their families. And a member of my family, Daniel Greer, pulled someone over for a highway ticket and got hit by a truck and killed. His kids were 3 and 4 years-old at the time. All that a police officer’s family goes through and someone has the audacity to come out and call all police officers killers.
BNN: I know your relationship with your son is complicated but did you have a chance to raise him with certain values when it came to respecting police officers, especially considering your family history?
TT: I never knew him. I’ve always tried to get closer to him, to become friends, but he’s never had anything to do with me, and that’s unfortunate.
BNN: So obviously you haven’t spoken to him about any of this.
BNN: What are your thoughts on this brewing boycott. It’s fairly big now. Is that something you support?
TT: I don’t want to get into that but all of these police organizations were very hurt by these comments. Listen, I’ve been in the entertainment industry all of my life. My dad worked in the early movie business with cowboys like Buck Jones and Tim McCoy. I grew up in that world. And as an artist I appreciate art. Even if I don’t like a person, and there are people I don’t like, and people whose thoughts and expressions I disagree with, that does not stop me from admiring their art.
BNN: It sounds like you don’t agree with the boycott in principle but you understand those who might show their frustration with your son through the boycott — especially police officers.
TT: Yeah, that is their call. I would not boycott his films. I will go see his films. He is a great artist and he has done some phenomenal work. And I think it’s a shame that the work of an artist and the mistakes of a person have to comingle.
BNN: Generally, I’m with you. A lot of artists talk a lot about their politics. I don’t like to let it interfere with my enjoyment of their work, and try not to. Calling police officers “murderers,” though, that is just beyond anything– and possibly dangerous. If influential people like your son have a hand in making some people see police officers as murderers, no good can come from that.
TT: Exactly. I agree. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m doing these interviews.
QT: For example, your son has spoken out in favor of gun control. But that’s a policy statement. To call cops “murderers” is so far beyond that it’s hard to put into words.
TT: Even so, how can he go around preaching about gun control. Look at his films; they’re all about guns and violence.
BNN: He has argued that there is no connection between movie violence and real-life violence.
TT: Which is like saying there is no connection between smoking marijuana and the smoke.
BNN: There is talk in the news today that your son might issue an apology.
TT: I’d like that. That would be a good thing.
BNN: Would you see that as a sincere apology, or as a defensive celebrity ritual apology designed to turn down the boycott heat on “The Hateful Eight?”
TT: You have to look at the situation. [“Hateful Eight” producer] Harvey Weinstein has just had two films lose a lot of money. He’s got approximately $80 million into “The Hateful Eight,” and if that tanks there is a ton of money being lost over a stupid thing like these comments.
BNN: I think it’s going to be hard for people to believe an apology is sincere after this much time and this much pressure from the growing police boycotts. Also, it’s one thing for a star to lose his temper or misspeak or say something offensive that really isn’t offensive, and then apologize. We see that all the time. And it’s just the media being bullies. Forcing an apology from others over nothing has become a game to our media. A declarative statement, though, in what looked at least to me like written remarks, where you call police officers murderers… That’s not a misstatement. How do you explain or walk that back?
TT: You don’t. What you hope is that through all the attention on this subject, that he will take a closer look at what he did, what he said, and then examine more closely the other side of the issue. Then he can come back as say, ‘You know what, I thought about it and I was wrong. I am sorry.’ He should then back it up with a generous financial donation to the New York Police Benevolent Fund. He needs to help those officers and their families who have been wounded or killed in the line of duty.
BNN: What if your son had given a more thoughtful and reasoned talk about the issue of police brutality?
TT: Cops are human beings. They are not robots. Like you and me, they are subject to indiscretions and mistakes and, yes, some are all out rogues. Those people deserve what any other citizen would face: to face a jury and suffer the consequences of their actions. But you also have to take into account the reality of the stress police officers are under. It’s a dangerous job where you are constantly facing death, and sometimes people under stress make bad decisions with the best of intentions.
BNN: Had your son spoken out like that, you would not be speaking out now?
TT: Absolutely not. I’m not opposed to anyone speaking about police brutality or any kind of brutality. It is a good thing to speak out about that.
BNN: Do you think that after 20 years of being one of the most famous directors in history, and living in that Hollywood fame-bubble, that one of the reasons this happened is that he’s lost touch?
TT: I think so. And he’s also very passionate, very expressive, and if he gets on to something he can go overboard and not look at both sides. And we all do that. We’re all guilty of that. But someone in his position, someone whose opinion and voice matters around the world, he has to be more responsible and careful than the average person. That is an obligation that comes with the fame he enjoys.
BNN: He just came off to me as a guy who watches too much CNN, was fooled into believing the Black Lives Matter movement was a mainstream instead of fringe movement, and then shot himself in the foot. Maybe if he spent some time in Wyoming?
TT: Exactly. Or even if he would have pinpointed his comments to a particular abuse situation, or an officer who was out of line. That would have been fine. But not to describe an entire department as killers and murderers.
BNN: Anything else you would like to add before we wrap it up.
TT: I do. I want to personally apologize to all police forces across the planet for his comments and reckless words.
BNN: It sounds as though you feel a sense of responsibility.
TT: Of course. I’d be sorry he said it even if we weren’t related.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC