Filmmaker, screenwriter and author Quentin Tarantino stopped by Real Time Friday night to talk with Bill Maher about his new book, Cinema Speculation, out on Tuesday.

Tarantino went to a lot of sophisticated films as a young child, he admitted, sometimes viewing subject matter that he didn’t quite understand, like a certain infamous Ned Beatty rape scene in Delilverance.

Of that scene, Tarantino said, “I’m seeing it in ’73, so I’m about nine,” he said. Admitting he didn’t know about sodomy, Tarantino did know Beatty was being subjugated, because everybody on the school yard has been subjugated to some degree.

“I’m not sure what the lesson is here,” Maher joked.

Tarantino found his way back to his point about young viewers of sophisticated films. “There will be some stuff that goes over their head,” he said. But, like him, “I got the gist of it.”

That was true when he went to see the Jim Brown and Raquel Welch film 100 Rifles. He was taken to a theater with an all-Black audience, Tarantino reminisced, by his mother’s boyfriend. The crowd was raucous for the opening film, The Bus is Coming, yelling at the screen. “The first time I ever heard ‘suck my dick’ was someone in the audience,” Tarantino said. Taken with the raw energy and fun of the moment, Tarantino himself eventually squeaked out a similar epithet.

Maher reminded him, “If you’re promoting the book on the ‘Today’ show, don’t tell these stories.”

But 100 Rifles stimulated something in young Tarantino. “Being taken to a Jim Brown movie at an all-Black theater, that was the most masculine experience I have ever had.”

That moment shaped him. “Either as a movie consumer, or when creating movies for an audience – that goal of a Jim Brown movie on a Saturday night in1972 is what I’m trying to recreate.”

In the panel discussion, Maher was joined by Gillian Tett, the US editor-at-large of the Financial Times and author of Anthro-Vision: A New Way to See in Business and Life, and Yuval Noah Harari, author of the book Unstoppable Us, Volume 1: How Humans Took Over the World, 

The discussion was a civil chat with a lot of tut-tutting about how people and politics are being warped and woofed by social media and technology.

“Something is broken in the information system,” said Harari. “People can no longer hold a conversation and agree on the most basic facts.”

Tett argued that such a state is the product of being able to program their own world, whether through music or social media.

Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter will not necessarily help that, Tett said. She said Musk “is increasingly godlike and capricious.”

Harari was also skeptical. “(Musk’s) view is that it’s the town square. It’s not. Twitter is more like a gladiatorial arena.”

Finally, in his “New Rules” editorial, Maher blasted the scolds at BuzzFeed and other publications who constantly whine about “forbidden” Halloween costumes.

“If Halloween is too much for your fragile sensibilities and you’re worried about seeing something on the forbidden costume list, just stay the fuck home,” Maher said, adding, “I’m so tired of a handful of emotional hemophiliacs telling us what we can’t do on Halloween.”

On the forbidden costume list: Queen Elilzabeth (“too soon”), no sexy schoolgirls, no Playboy bunnies, can’t dress up as Elvis, and “don’t even think of characters outside your race.”

Worse, “no unhoused person,” thereby eliminating the “default costume of every kid in history.” No drag queens, either, “because if kids want to go see drag queens, they can go to story hour.”

Also banned: No Putin, no Trump, no Johnny Depp, particularly no Amber Heard (“no shit”) and nothing related to vaccines and monkeypox.

“Listen to me,” Maher said, addressing an imaginary audience of teens. “I’m your last connection to fun.” He encouraged mixing and matching. “Have the Queen shit in Johnny’s bed, have Will Smith smacking a hobo, have Kevin Spacey hitting on a mariachi band. Jeffrey Dahmer is the perfect Halloween costume.

Ironically, it’s Gen Z who are the scolds on this. “Your parents protected you, and now you’re these assholes. Gen Z is the one telling you to get off my lawn.”


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