Quentin Tarantino. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for BAFTA)
Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY
Django Unchained director Quentin Tarantino took some hard questioning about movie violence during an interview with National Public Radio's Terry Gross on Wednesday night.
The tense and often excruciatingly awkward exchange on the popular radio program Fresh Air left the director feeling "really annoyed." Tarantino seemed surprised when the genial conversation suddenly turned to the serious subject of putting violence in movies after the Newtown, Conn., school shooting last month.
"So, I just have to ask you," Gross said. "Is it any less fun after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary? Do you ever go through a period where you lose your taste for movie violence?"
"I think it's disrespectful to their memory actually, the memory of the people who died, to talk about movies," Tarantino said of the 26 shooting victims. "It's totally disrespectful to their memory."
Tarantino was sailing through a lighthearted interview when things got decidedly tense and often awkward after the director laughed about the intense beatings in his new film, which he called "Spaghetti Western" beatings.
"And what do you like about that?" Gross asked.
"What do I like about it?" Tarantino asked with surprise, before laughing nervously. "It's fun."
Gross asked: "Are there times when it is just not a fun movie experience for you, either to be making it that way or to be in the audience?"
"Not for me," Tarantino said flatly.
After a few other tense exchanges, Tarantino added, "Would I watch a kung fu movie three days after the Sandy Hook massacre? Maybe. Because they have nothing to do with each other."
"You sound annoyed," Gross responded.
Tarantino wrapped up the subject with his thoughts on movies and violence.
"I've been asked this question for 20 years," he said. "About the effects of violence in movies relating to violence in real life. And my answer is the same as 20 years ago. It hasn't changed one iota."
Tarantino added that violence in movies does not affect violence in society."Obviously the issue is gun control and mental health," he said.