Guess What Quentin Tarantino and Bill Maher Railed Against on “Real Time”

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Quentin Tarantino
Writer-director Quentin Tarantino attends the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 09, 2020.
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Quentin Tarantino was the guest on Friday night’s episode of Real Time With Bill Maher, and the two men spent a fair amount of time discussing Tarantino’s film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and his adaptation of it as a novel. But as befits a discussion between a guy who’s taken to decrying “cancel culture” and a filmmaker who’s rarely shied away from controversy, the conversation also veered into the ways politics and cinema can collide.

And, as Marlow Stern wrote at The Daily Beast, it’s here that things got trickier. Maher praised Tarantino for not backing down when “everyone’s tried to stifle you, shut you up, shame you, bully you, corral your artistic license.”

For his part, Tarantino lamented the current state of cinema, saying that “there has become a thing that’s gone on, especially in this last year, where ideology is more important than art. Ideology trumps art. Ideology trumps individual effort. Ideology trumps good. Ideology trumps entertaining.”

Later in the conversation, Maher said, “There are two kinds of movies: virtue-signalers and superhero movies.” Tarantino agreed. And while Maher has made the same argument about the year’s Oscar nominees already this year, it’s also worth stating that it’s no more correct now than it was then.

It is somewhat surprising to see Tarantino — who’s always been fairly attuned to the state of cinema past and present — signing on to this take. For starters, the fact that Tarantino himself has a career built around original screenplays without consideration to franchise potential or genre tropes speaks volumes. (Though there’s also the matter of his professed desire to make a Star Trek movie.)

Contrary to what Maher has argued, there’s a lot more to the current film world than either blockbusters or politically-minded dramas. And while the much-discussed dwindling of mid-budget films is a very real issue, just because something isn’t nominated for an Oscar doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. You’d think Maher would know better, and you’d definitely think Tarantino would.

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