This week we have been paying close attention to the developing feud between Academy Award-winning film director Quentin Tarantino and the police departments of the United States. The largest police union in the country, representing 330,000 full-time cops Threatened Tarantino with a “surprise” after he refused to back down in his statements about police brutality.
As police departments around the country are attempting to bully Tarantino into recanting his statements, other celebrities are surprisingly risking their own positions as well to speak out in his support.
Actor Viggo Mortensen of the Lord of The Rings series and numerous other successful films recently appeared on Democracy Now to discuss the situation and show his support for Tarantino.
When asked his thoughts on the controversy, Mortensen responded:
Well, I saw—I saw both the clip of what he said on the 24th of October, and I saw him on All In last night with Chris Hayes, and I thought that Quentin Tarantino knocked it out of the park in his interview last night. He clearly saw what anybody with eyes on their head could see in certain videos. Fortunately, those certain events were videotaped, of police brutality. He was commenting, like the people, the families of those who had been slain by police officers—unarmed people, you know. In some cases, those acts have been condemned, you know, have been called murder. And in other cases, they have controversially not been—what happened on Staten Island, you know, recently, and in other places, even though they were videotaped, and all could see what was going on.
You know, clearly, there is a—it’s a small minority, obviously, and it is a problem, of police officers, not just in New York and not just in Missouri and not just in the South, but all over the country—there are some individuals who break the law, who are committing criminal acts as police officers, who are murdering, who are using excessive force. But what’s more troubling—and that’s part of the reaction, the backlash against Tarantino—is the condoning, the tacit condoning of these abuses of power by certain police officers by their bosses, by people who should know better.
Quentin Tarantino did not say that all cops are murderers. He didn’t say, “I hate cops.” Never said any of those things. He said, “Certain things that I have seen and that everyone has seen are wrong, and I’m bearing witness.” You know, that’s what the Howard Zinn book and Twilight of Empire are about. They’re about bearing witness.
Mortensen went on to explain how he was slandered for his opinions on the war in Iraq, saying that,
“Absolutely. But it’s not just Tarantino. It’s about all the other people that were there on a 24th. It’s not—you know, just being someone in the entertainment business does not give you more right than anyone else to speak, and it certainly doesn’t give you less right. You know, the way that the police authority figures are speaking against Tarantino is by making irrelevant moral judgments about his movies, you know, to attack him. And that will work, you know, with a certain part of the population who likes to think, “Well, everything that’s done in the movie business is—you know, it’s Sodom and Gomorrah, and these people shouldn’t be allowed to speak,” and so forth.
I mean, I don’t think anything I say on this program today is going to be a problem for me as far as big reaction, because I’m not, you know—I mean, people see my movies, fortunately, but I’m not—it’s not like when Lord of the Rings came out. Then I was more in the news, along with the rest of the cast, you know, because those movies were a box office phenomenon. But I was, you know, mercilessly attacked and slandered by all kinds of people just for saying in—I remember 2002, I think, I was on Charlie Rose and in other places when I was asked what I thought about, you know, what was going on or the buildup to war in Iraq. I just said, “Well, it’s wrong.” I said, “Obviously there’s no justification for it.” And I got hundreds of emails a day for months and months saying, you know, “Why don’t you move to France?” And much worse. And, you know, that I was a traitor and a coward and so forth, and I didn’t have a right to speak. This is what they do to Quentin, saying, “You’re a movie maker, you don’t have a right to speak. Let the politicians speak about politics.” Well, I think that letting our rulers decide how to govern us is not—we haven’t had a great history there.”
Mortensen brings up a good point about how celebrities and people in the public eye are expected to keep in line with the government narrative on major political and philosophical issues. However, in reality, people who find themselves in the public eye have a responsibility to speak for truth, freedom and justice because they have so much influence over public opinion that it would be irresponsible to perpetuate propaganda. Unfortunately, most celebrities do continue to perpetuate the propaganda because they are forced in line by the type of harassment that Tarantino is receiving now and the fact that they are afraid of losing their jobs.
John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page and purchase his books at his website www.JohnVibes.com.