After more than twenty-five years making films, Quentin Tarantino is probably used to criticism. The filmmaker is never one to play it safe with his projects, and he consistently draws the ire from select critics and film fans, who find various issues with his films. With his latest, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” issues about how he treats women characters and how Bruce Lee is presented have dominated the conversation. But fellow filmmaker Boots Riley has shared his criticism for the film, and he has questions about Tarantino’s portrayal of the Manson Family.
For those that haven’t seen the film, or know the true story that portions of the film are inspired by, actress Sharon Tate was brutally murdered by the Manson Family in 1969. The seemingly random crime seems to have multiple instigating factors, some of which are explored in Tarantino’s film. However, one thing that Riley feels isn’t discussed enough is the Manson Family’s racism.
The filmmaker tweeted, “The Manson Family were overt White Supremacists who tried to start a race war w the goal of killing Black folks. They weren’t ‘hippies’ spouting left critiques of media. They were rightwingers. This fact flips Tarantino’s allegory on its head.”
This isn’t the first time that Riley has publicly voiced his issues with particular films. Last year, the director openly discussed how Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” was problematic, pointing out issues that many agreed with. But when it comes to ‘Once Upon a Time,’ it appears that his criticism is more about one of the subplots (which comes to a head in the climax) and less about the overall story presented in the film.
Riley further clarified his remakes with a more detailed statement (via IndieWire):
“I’m not saying it has to be historically accurate, just that the difference changes the actual meaning of the film. Like when cowboy Cliff Booth met them and heard the Manson Family talking about “the niggers are savages, and are gonna take over” he might have felt a kinship. I actually love Tarantino as a filmmaker and usually go to see his movies about twice each right off the bat, with more viewings later. One correction is that I said they wanted a race war in order to kill black people, but they actually wanted it to end with black people to be enslaved by them. The couple things that they said to sound “counterculture” was said while they were on trial and using that to gain sympathy. The weathermen said stuff in support of them while they were on trial, which they clarified as being sarcastic and taken out of the context which would have shown them as sarcastic.”
It wouldn’t be a Quentin Tarantino film unless there was a bit of controversy right? At this point, even Riley agrees that you can be a fan of the filmmaker but still have questions and issues with the finished product. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is in theaters now.
Re Once Upon A Time In Hollywood:
The Manson Family were overt White Supremacists who tried to start a race war w the goal of killing Black folks.
They werent "hippies" spouting left critiques of media. They were rightwingers.
This fact flips Tarantino's allegory on its head.
— Boots Riley (@BootsRiley) August 24, 2019