Liars lie, of course–but we really shouldn’t let them–so I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Quentin Tarantino’s ad hoc attacks on John Ford are of minor significance compared to his perpetuation of the poisonous myth of “mandingo fighting,” typified by this quote (from the interview linked in the previous post):

Q (Rodriguez): The movie is akin to “Inglorious Basterds” in that it’s a kind of historical fantasy, only rooted more in reality. [emphasis mine] The graphic depiction of slavery is astonishing, like the scene in which Calvin Candie forces two men to fight to the death with their bare hands for his amusement.

A (Tarantino): I was always aware those things existed. Mandingo fighting, which is what we call it, was part of the underbelly of slavery. It would be a perfect vice for Candie to indulge in, watching two men [who] are fighting to death like dogs.

“Mandingo fighting” is what “we” call it indeed. We’d have to “call” it something, since it never existed in anything like the form Tarantino insists he was “always aware” of.

For a brief history of ways in which slaves were actually used to entertain their masters you can go here.

If anyone is interested in reading an entertaining, historically valid and unflinching account of what the life of a nineteenth-century black man placed in this situation  of fighting-for-hire might have actually been like, I highly recommend George MacDonald Fraser’s novel Black Ajax, which tells a story Tarantino might well have used his clout to bring to the screen if he had either guts or any actual interest in history.

Incidentally, Samuel Jackson has also been repeating this line in his interviews for the film–treating the notion of “Mandingo fighting” to the death, which was invented by pulp novelists and spread by their cinematic equivalents in the 1970s and beyond–as an accepted historical reality. Shame on him.

Those who actually defend slavery on historical grounds (I don’t actually know of anyone deluded enough to specifically defend it from the standpoint of contemporary values), draw tremendous strength from precisely this sort of lie…and note that Tarantino’s interviewer above, actually accepts that QT’s fantasy position, based on what he learned from watching fictional movies of highly dubious quality, is historically valid–if not inarguable–(i.e. “rooted more in reality”)–before the director even has a chance to answer the implied question.

This is the moral equivalent of conducting an interview on your knees. It’s little wonder that Tarantino and his like carry on without fear of contradiction.

As for the amount of very real-life money Tarantino himself is going to make from having a mostly white audience get off on (among other things) watching a black man beat another black man to death…well, that’s another subject for another day.


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