The cruel treatment of Quentin Tarantino’s leading lady in The Hateful Eight is leading to charges that the film is misogynistic. Those close to the film, however, are defending the embattled director.
According to Variety, Daisy Domergue, who is played by actress Jennifer Jason Leigh, is on the receiving end of a great deal of graphic violence and verbal abuse in the film, including things like “a gun-butt crack over the skull or a back elbow to the nose or a dousing of hot stew to the face.”
Writing in The New York Times, film critic A.O. Scott described Domergue as “the film’s scapegoat and punching bag and, above all, its excuse for its own imaginative failures.”
“At a certain point, the n-word gives way to the b-word as the dominant hateful epithet, and ‘The Hateful Eight’ mutates from an exploration of racial animus into an orgy of elaborately justified misogyny.”
In addition to being misogynistic, Scott concludes the plot to be both “cumbersome and flimsy.”
Defending Tarantino, whose anti-police rhetoric has already created headaches for those distributing Hateful Eight, Harvey Weinstein said the director is “the most pro-woman ever.”
Weinstein cited Tarantino’s previous female characters as examples of the director’s adoration for women during an interview with Variety.
“[Look at] Uma Thurman [in Kill Bill], Pam Grier [in Jackie Brown], Melanie Laurent and Diane Kruger [in Inglourious Basterds],” said the Weinstein Co. co-founder.
He added: “If there are cries of misogyny, we will sit down and make them watch Jackie Brown, and at the end of the Jackie Brown seminar, they will have to say, ‘Hey, we’re just fishing for stupidity.’”
Leigh also addressed the controversy recently during a separate interview with Variety. Defending Tarantino, Leigh said she was never worried the treatment of Domergue could be interpreted as misogynistic.
“She’s a leader. And she’s tough. And she’s hateful and a survivor and scrappy. I thought it was funny, but I didn’t think it was misogynistic for a second. [Tarantino] doesn’t have an ounce of misogyny in him. It’s not in his writing. It’s not in his being.”
Leigh added: “Quentin writes the best parts for women out there. He really does. He writes very brave, bold, insane, fabulous women. Nobody writes women like he does.”
For his part, Tarantino has said any violence suffered by Domergue in the film is by design.
“When John Ruth [Kurt Russell] cracks her [Leigh] over the head that very first time, you feel this ripple going through the audience — because it almost does seem like one of the last taboos left,”he said.
Tarantino added, “I want your allegiances, to one degree or the other, to shift slightly as the movie goes on.”
The director’s film’s have been known for stirring controversy in the past. Aside from Tarantino’s recent statements describing police officers as “murders,” a number of his movies have strongly been criticized for containing too much graphic violence and for using racial epithets liberally.