NYPD/LAPD boycotts of Quentin Tarantino reinforce negative stereotypes about cops

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The NYPD and LAPD really hate Quentin Tarantino right now, labeling him a cop-hater and anti-cop. In the process of explaining their dislike for the filmmaker, the NYPD and LAPD are also providing more reason to lose faith in law enforcement. Their recent rhetoric has reaffirmed many of the negative stereotypes about cops, i.e., they’re a bunch of bullies on a power trip.

It all began on October 24th when Tarantino participated in a New York City protest against police brutality. Following the protest, the New York Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) called for a boycott of Tarantino’s films. The PBA took great offense to Tarantino’s use of the word “murderer” to refer to cops who killed innocent, unarmed people. Tempers were especially high as the protest took place just days after NYPD officer Randolph Holder was gunned down in the line of duty.

“It’s no surprise that someone who makes a living glorifying crime and violence is a cop-hater, too,” wrote PBA president Patrick J. Lynch. “New Yorkers need to send a message to this purveyor of degeneracy that he has no business coming to our city to peddle his slanderous ‘Cop Fiction.’ It’s time for a boycott of Quentin Tarantino’s films.”

Soon after, the LAPD joined the NYPD in calling for a boycott of Tarantino’s films. “Hateful rhetoric dehumanizes police and encourages attacks on us,” wrote Los Angeles Police Protective League (PPL) president Craig Lally. “And questioning everything we do threatens public safety by discouraging officers from putting themselves in positions where their legitimate actions could be falsely portrayed as thuggery.”

There are good cops out there, of course, but none of these statements by the PBA and PPL are going to make it easier for them to do their job. Remarks like these make it sound as if the NYPD and LAPD are beyond reproach. If you’ve paid attention to the news at all or even have some passing familiarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, that’s obviously not the case. The issue is police brutality related to systemic racism and/or general problems with hiring and accountability in law enforcement, but reps for the NYPD and LAPD would rather not address those issues. Because hey, look, Quentin Tarantino!

Worse still, police reps recently ratcheted up their rhetoric, and it’s still not helping their own cause.

Late last week, Jim Pasco, the executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, made a cryptic statement about Tarantino and the police boycott effort. “Something is in the works, but the element of surprise is the most important element. Something could happen anytime between now and [the premiere of The Hateful Eight]. And a lot of it is going to be driven by Tarantino, who is nothing if not predictable.”

Pasco added, “The right time and place will come up and we’ll try to hurt him in the only way that seems to matter to him, and that’s economically.”

So again, rather than try to figure out how to prevent the deaths of more innocent people, how to reach out to underserved or marginalized communities, and just generally figuring out how to be better police officers, high-level police union reps would rather try to organize a major boycott of a new Quentin Tarantino movie and intimidate the filmmaker, and by extension other voices critical of the police, into silence.

This is, frankly, stupid.

The NYPD, LAPD, and the Fraternal Order of Police come across as petty and tone deaf. The boycott will accomplish nothing substantive with regard to police brutality; it may simply make current perceptions of the police more negative. At the heart of these statements isn’t just a general defensiveness but an unhealthy inability to accept legitimate criticism. We’re not talking about the deaths of innocent people or good cops who died doing their job. Instead, police reps have dogpiled on a citizen who was protesting peacefully.

In case you were wondering, The Hateful Eight comes out in select cities on Christmas Day.

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.