Quentin Tarantino is one of the most famous, influential, and controversial directors working today. He’s renowned for his unique style, non-linear storytelling, graphic violence, and foot fetish.
While Tarantino has many devoted fans, he also attracts a lot of criticism and hatred. Here’s an in-depth look at the reasons why some people hate Quentin Tarantino.
Is Tarantino Overrated?
One common criticism of Tarantino is that he’s overrated. Detractors argue that while his films are entertaining, they aren’t as deep, meaningful or influential as Tarantino fans claim.
Tarantino lacks substance
Some argue that Tarantino’s films lack real substance beyond their flashy style and violence. They see his movies as hollow pastiches filled with clever dialogue and homages to other films, but without much to say.
Tarantino is more interested in paying tribute to grindhouse genres rather than using film to provide social commentary or insight.
He did not reinvent cinema
While Tarantino brought a hip new sensibility to cinema in the 90s, he did not radically reinvent or transform the artform. The foundations of his filmmaking style – non-linear storytelling, extended dialogues, blending genres – already existed in French New Wave and American indie films.
Tarantino synthesized these influences into his own distinctive style, but remained constrained by traditional narrative cinema.
Most influential director tag is debatable
There’s no doubt Tarantino has been massively influential on subsequent filmmakers. But some argue other directors like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg or the Coen Brothers have had more wide-reaching influence on American cinema.
Tarantino may be the most copied director of the last 30 years, but that’s different to being the most influential.
Does He Make “Bad” Movies?
While Tarantino has staunch defenders who love his filmography, some critics argue he has made outright bad movies:
Tarantino’s homage to grindhouse exploitation and slasher films starring Kurt Russell was the first time he faced major critical derision. Many saw Death Proof as an insubstantial trifle with poorly defined characters and a lack of narrative drive.
The Hateful Eight
Tarantino’s epic chamber Western played well with his hardcore fans but received a more mixed response from critics and audiences. detractors found it self-indulgent and sadistic, and argued the racial politics were questionable.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Tarantino’s nostalgic trip through 1960s Hollywood proved divisive, with some finding it slow, pointless and lacking satisfying payoff. The alternate history ending was seen as an ugly revisionist fantasy by some.
However, Tarantino’s films generally receive high praise from critics – even his weakest efforts have staunch defenders. Consensus seems to be he has not yet made an outright “bad” film. But segments of audiences disagree about the quality of some of his movies.
Is His Violence Gratuitous?
The most common criticism of Tarantino is that his films are excessively, gratuitously violent. Here are the main arguments:
Violence for entertainment
Critics argue the extreme violence in Tarantino’s films serves no purpose beyond providing shocking spectacle and entertainment for the audience. This makes it feel gratuitous rather than meaningful.
Tarantino is accused of stylizing violence by using slow motion, graphic edits, and exaggerated sound effects. This makes violence aestheticized rather than revolting. It trivializes the real horror and consequences of violence.
Violence for humor
Tarantino often mixes humor and violence, using over-the-top violence played for laughs. This reinforces that the violence is just disposable amusement rather than something to be taken seriously.
Makes audiences numb to violence
Some psychologists argue Tarantino’s films desensitize audiences to real world violence by normalizing carnage on screen.
However, Tarantino argues violence in his films always serves the story. It reflects the morally compromised worlds and characters he depicts. The aesthetics reflect the subjective viewpoints of his antiheroes.
Do His Movies Lack Good Female Roles?
Another common critique of Tarantino is that his films lack substantive roles for women and instead objectify or degrade them.
Women as sex objects
Critics argue women in Tarantino films are often treated as sex objects rather than fully developed characters. Actresses like Uma Thurman and Zoe Bell have featured in glamorized or sexualized roles.
Depicts violence against women
Tarantino has frequently depicted violence against female characters, most controversially in Death Proof. This makes some viewers uncomfortable about the motives behind such scenes.
Lacks empowered female leads
While Tarantino’s films feature iconic female characters, they are rarely the central protagonist. There’s a sense he is more interested in depicting macho antiheroes than empowered women leads.
However, some argue Tarantino has created some of cinema’s most charismatic, complex female characters like Beatrix Kiddo and Shosanna Dreyfus. His female characters should be assessed on their own terms rather than unfair expectations.
Has He Gotten Worse Over Time?
Tarantino’s first films Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction were groundbreaking. But some argue the quality of his films has steadily declined as his fame and budget have increased.
A common criticism is that Tarantino’s later films are self-indulgent – overly long, lacking narrative focus and crammed with self-referential in-jokes. As he’s gained more creative freedom, he has not reined in his excesses.
Recycles old ideas
Detractors argue Tarantino keeps returning to the same tricks again and again – non-linear storytelling, references to old films, ironic uses of violence, reworking genres. But he brings diminishing returns and lacks new ideas.
Early Tarantino films like Reservoir Dogs felt tightly focused. But since Kill Bill his films seem increasingly bloated and unrestrained. The Hateful Eight and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood meandered aimlessly for some critics.
However, others argue Tarantino is maturing and honing his craft. Films like Django Unchained and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood are more thoughtful and substantial than his early work.
Is He Obsessed with the N-Word?
Tarantino has faced a lot of criticism for the use of racial slurs, especially the “N-word”, in his scripts. Spike Lee has been one his most vocal critics.
Overuse of racial slurs
Tarantino seems almost obsessively fixated on using the “N-word” in films like Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and Django Unchained. Critics argue it’s unnecessary and feels juvenile, like a provocative adolescent.
Makes audiences numb to the word’s power
Some argue that Tarantino’s films normalize use of a profoundly ugly racial slur. His cavalier repetition of the word deprives it of its earned awfulness.
Portrayal of black characters
Spike Lee has criticized Tarantino’s simplistic, stereotypical depictions of black characters. He argues Tarantino lacks the insight to use racial slurs responsibly or offer nuanced portrayals.
However, Tarantino argues he’s using ugly language to truthfully depict social prejudices and reality. He believes reflecting harsh realities on film is better than censorship.
Does He Steal From Other Films?
While openly inspired by other films, Tarantino has been accused of crossing the line into plagiarism.
Tarantino clearly borrows heavily from existing films across his work, through homages, pastiche, and remixing genres. But some argue he stole key ideas.
Similar scenes and shots
Critics have identified several scenes and shots in Tarantino’s films closely resemble those from existing films, suggesting copying rather than homage.
Concepts like the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad in Kill Bill have been accused of closely lifting story elements from other films. Tarantino has been sued twice for plagiarism but the cases were dismissed.
Tarantino argues he always transforms borrowed elements rather than simply copying. His style relies on remixing and referencing cinema he loves. He sees this intertextuality as a strength, not a weakness.
Is He a Terrible Actor?
Tarantino frequently casts himself in bit parts in his own movies. But his acting skills have not impressed critics, who argue he indulges himself with vanity cameos.
Stilted, wooden acting
Reviewers have identified Tarantino’s acting style as stilted, flat and amateurish. He struggles to deliver his lines naturally on camera.
Tarantino’s recurring cameos are seen as distracting indulgences that break the viewer’s immersion in the cinematic world for the sake of feeding his ego.
Should stick to writing/directing
Critics argue Tarantino’s limited acting talent undermines his strengths as a writer and director. He should step back and let professionals play even tiny roles rather than distracting with hammy cameos.
However, Tarantino argues cameoing in his own movies is part of the fun. He knows his limitations as an actor but enjoys being part of the cinematic universes he creates.
Does He Lack Maturity?
Some critics argue that Tarantino’s filmography reveals a persistent lack of emotional maturity. His attitudes seemfrozen in adolescence rather than developing with age and wisdom.
Never grew out of video store clerk phase
Tarantino is still obsessed with the same B movies and pulp fiction that shaped his youth. He revels in onscreen violence, provocation and exploitation like an arrested adolescent.
Makes movies for teenagers
Some argue Tarantino’s flashy violence and provocative use of the n-word appeals to teenagers looking for “dangerous” adult content. But his films lack the maturity and nuance of great cinema.
Refuses to evolve with age
Now nearing 60, Tarantino seems resistant to maturing or evolving as an artist. He retains an adolescent mindset fixated on 70s cinema and provocation rather than seeking wisdom.
However, some argue there is skill and craft behind Tarantino’s popcorn movie style. His love of cinema shines through his work. Maturity in itself does not equal great art.
Is He Just a Nostalgic Retro Fetishist?
Tarantino has been accused of simply recycling the pop culture from his youth rather than creating original art. He indulges in empty retro pastiche and kitsch.
Fixated on the 60s and 70s
Tarantino’s films are obsessively filled with references to grindhouse, blaxploitation, spaghetti Westerns and other retro genres. He relies on nostalgia rather than originality.
Creates hollow pastiche
To some critics, Tarantino’s films simply mash-up influences from French New Wave to Hong Kong action cinema into stylish but hollow pastiche.
Fetishizes retro pop culture
Rather than saying anything profound, Tarantino just mindlessly regurgitates and reincorporates the VHS tapes and vinyl records of his youth. He deifies junk culture from before his time.
However, Tarantino argues he transforms his influences into something fresh and original. His films are not kitsch but masterful reinventions of genre and pop culture.
Has He Stalled Creatively?
Tarantino’s recent output has underwhelmed some critics, who argue he has run out of creative steam and new ideas.
Some argue that Tarantino peaked with Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown. He has failed to match the freshness of his early years as his well of creativity runs dry.
Recycles old tricks
Tarantino’s newer films feel like faded retreads according to critics. He keeps falling back on the same tricks – non-linear narratives, ultra violence, aggressive dialogue – without bringing anything substantially new.
Without new influences or life experience influencing his work, Tarantino seems to lack inspiration. He is stuck rehashing his youthful obsessions.
However, Tarantino argues he is growing and maturing as a director with each film. He believes his recent work is among his most accomplished and multidimensional.
Is He Just Ripping Off Better Directors?
Detractors argue Tarantino simply recycles ideas from superior directors rather than displaying true originality.
Rips off Scorsese
Tarantino has been accused of stealing stylistic tricks from Martin Scorsese – non-linear storytelling, razor-sharp dialogue, violence as spectacle – and dumbing them down.
Apathetic remake of better films
Films like Jackie Brown and Kill Bill have been criticized as hipster remakes of better Blaxploitation and Kung Fu movies. Tarantino relies on others’ ideas.
Student of film, not master
Ultimately, Tarantino is dismissed by some as a talented student of cinema who synthesize his favorite elements from masters like Kubrick and Leone. But he lacks the true visionary spark of original genius.
However, defenders argue he transforms his influences into his own unique style. And all directors are influenced by their predecessors.
Does He Lack Range as a Director?
Tarantino has been criticized for lack of directorial range – making very similar films within narrow genre constraints.
Sticks to comfort zone
After finding a niche with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Tarantino has barely ventured outside his comfort zone. He rarely takes risks with new genres, styles or stories.
Tarantino effectively makes the same movie over and over – violent crime films with pop culture riffs, fractured chronology, sharp dialogue. This makes his work feel formulaic.
Avoids sincerity or subtlety
Tarantino’s filmic worlds entirely lack sincerity, subtlety or vulnerability. He only deals in irony, pastiche, and showy camera moves. This limits his range.
However, defenders argue the consistency of Tarantino’s style is an artistic strength. Working within genre conventions allows depth and mastery to emerge.
Quentin Tarantino provokes intense debate because his films are so stylistically bold. For fans, his bravura camera moves, sharp dialogue, and remixing of influences make him an exhilarating auteur. But critics see an immature provocateur relying on excess and gimmicks.
Frequently Asked Questions about Tarantino Backlash
Here are answers to some common questions about why Quentin Tarantino has inspired so much criticism and backlash:
Why do people say Tarantino films are too violent?
Critics argue violence in Tarantino films often feels excessive, stylized for entertainment value, and lacking a meaningful narrative purpose. He is accused of aestheticizing violence in a potentially harmful way.
What’s the debate around Tarantino and race?
Tarantino has faced a lot of criticism for his liberal use of the “N-word” in scripts and occasionally simplistic black characterizations. Spike Lee is one of his most prominent critics on race.
Has Tarantino been called out for his treatment of women?
Yes, Tarantino has been accused of depicting women as sex objects, subjecting them to violence, and not creating fully realized female protagonists. But others argue he writes strong iconic women.
Why is Tarantino accused of stealing from other movies?
While openly inspired by cinema, Tarantino has been accused of crossing the line into plagiarism. Some argue he lifts concepts, scenes and shots without enough transformation. But he has also been legally defended as using homage and reference.
Do critics say Tarantino lacks maturity?
Some argue Tarantino seems emotionally adolescent, obsessed with provocation and retro pop culture, and resistant to evolving with age. But admirers say maturity is unimportant compared to cinematic craft.
Does his acting get criticized?
Yes, Tarantino’s acting in his own films is widely panned as wooden and self-indulgent. Critics argue he lacks talent and should stick to writing/directing. But fans find his cameos harmless fun.
Why is Tarantino called a rip-off artist?
Detractors argue Tarantino simply recycles superior directors like Scorsese while lacking true originality. But defenders say he transforms influences into his own distinctive style.
Do people say he’s creatively stalled?
Some argue Tarantino peaked decades ago and has been repetitively recycling old tricks due to lack of fresh creative inspiration. But others say he keeps maturing and evolving.
What’s the complaint about retro fixation?
Tarantino has been accused of empty fixation on retro pop culture from his youth, mindlessly regurgitating references without adding substance. But he refutes that his reinvention of genre is nostalgic pastiche.