Beginning with Pulp Fiction in 1994, Harvey Weinstein produced all of Quentin Tarantino’s feature films. It’s a collaboration that spans twenty-three years—twenty-four if you go back to 1993 and True Romance, which Tarantino wrote. That’s almost a quarter of a century spent making movies with the same producer/distributor, through the Miramax heyday and The Weinstein Company reinvention. There is perhaps no filmmaker more linked to Weinstein than Quentin Tarantino, and he finally spoke at length about everything we’ve learned about Weinstein in the last couple weeks. Talking to the New York Times, Tarantino said, “I knew enough to do more than I did. […] I knew he did a couple of these things. I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard.”
I knew enough to do more than I did. That’s the money quote, and it’s got everyone up in arms. I understand, my knee-jerk reaction was, “Well then why the f*ck didn’t you do anything?” But the system that Weinstein exploited depends on silence, and if we’re learning anything from all this, it’s that that system thrives on the silence of EVERYONE. The people being harassed; the employees who suspect, if not outright know, something is wrong; the boards and executives who cover for serial abusers in the workplace; the journalists who obey publicist no-fly lists—keep an eye on what is and isn’t asked, especially of Ben Affleck, at the upcoming Justice League junket—and the collaborators who perhaps fear for their own careers if they speak out. No one escapes the sordid system.
It’s easy to call Tarantino a coward. It’s not even unreasonable. And it feels good, for a moment, to have a target for the festering helplessness and anger that stems from this situation. There is so much wrong, everything is so broken, where do we even start? Well, we can yell at Quentin Tarantino, who heard directly from Mira Sorvino, his girlfriend at the time, about Weinstein’s harassment, who knew about Rose McGowan’s settlement, and who also knows the story of an as yet unnamed actress. You knew! You KNEW! “It wasn’t just second hand,” YOU KNEW. And you did nothing. F*CK YOU.
But then where are we? There is still so much wrong. Everything is still so broken. So maybe one place to start is by accepting Tarantino’s remorse now, and finding a productive way to move forward. He’s complicit in the silence that protected Weinstein for so long, and for many, he will be forever tainted by association. But Tarantino owns his cowardice and explains how he rationalized decades of knowledge of Weinstein’s abuse—“I chalked it up to a 50’s-60’s era image of a boss chasing a secretary around the desk…”—and goes on to say, “Don’t just give out statements. […] Vow to do better by our sisters.” You’re late to the party, QT, but you’re here now.
And action now is what matters, but Tarantino doesn’t actually say what he’s going to do going forward. How is he going to “do better”? Kevin Smith is donating his Weinstein residuals to Women In Film. What is Tarantino’s plan to rectify the mistakes of his past association and make the industry a better, safer place for women? “Don’t just give out statements,” he says, but he is just making a statement. None of this matters without follow through. I’m willing to accept Tarantino’s remorse is sincere—better late than never. But what matters most isn’t an apologia or rationalizations. It’s what he does next. What are you going to do next, Quentin?