Monday, 14 January 2013

Hyper Smash

Quentin Tarantino - an important PR lesson

Movie director shows us how NOT to do PR...


IF Quentin Tarantino was writing a script for a movie - one where a businessman performs the ultimate PR coup in an interview, it might go something like this:

INT. HOTEL ROOM - DAY - QUENTIN TARANTINO is cool as a f*ckin cucumber. He has just delivered the best f*cking public relations line about a f*cking movie EVER.


NEWS REPORTER:
F*ck man, that's some cool a** sh*t you just said. Now everyone will want to sit their a** down for three hours and watch Django Unchained...


QUENTIN TARANTINO
Any other questions, mother f*cker?

NEWS REPORTER
(humbled by greatness)
Sh*t yea - what the f*ck is it with the guns, man?

QUENTIN TARANTINO
I have answered that question before, but to respect any newcomers to my art I'll tell you. I use my themes to bring the mother f*cking world together to discuss important topics - in this instance slavery -  and at times treat that with a certain dose of realism. But my use of violence which eventually is used to subvert this theme - and remind the audience we are in the realms of fantasy - is uniformly cartoon-like. Any mother f*cker takes my violent sh*t seriously is f*cking f*cked in the mother f*cking head.

Of course that's not how it happened. Quentin Tarantino, interviewed by Krishnan Guru-Murthy on the Channel 4 News, made himself look less like some sort of kitch daddy-cool character from some exploito-movie/airport novel, and more like a complete tool.


KRISHNAN GURU-MURTHY
But why are you so sure that there's no link between enjoying movie violence and enjoying real violence?

QUENTIN TARANTINO
I don't... I'm going to tell you why I'm so sure? Don't ask me a question like that -- I'm not biting. I refuse your question.


KRISHNAN GURU-MURTHY
Why?

QUENTIN TARANTINO
Because I refuse your question. I'm not your slave and you're not my master. You can't make me dance to your tune. I'm not a monkey.

And then, later...


KRISHNAN GURU-MURTHY
It's interesting that you have a different view, and I'm just trying to explore that.


QUENTIN TARANTINO

And I don't want to! 'Cause I'm here to sell my movie. This is a commercial for the movie - make no mistake.


KRISHNAN GURU-MURTHY
So you don't want to talk about anything serious?

It all gets much, much worse, and I've popped the video of Tarantino's PR mishap below.



But what has happened here - I mean other than Tarantino acting like a big mother f*cking baby?

Simple. He has either not been told, or not realised he is on a news programme. Now his little outburst might well have worked if Channel 4 News relied entirely on film stars. I can imagine if he had had a similar outburst at a movie magazine like Total Film or Empire it would have, quite understandably, made them sweat. But this is the news - they are in the business of what is relevant to them and nothing else. What's more, they don't have to care if they offend someone, because they will just do a story about that - and that was precisely what they did. Because his outburst was in the public interest (or at least interesting to the public) - people spend money on him, and idolise him, and this is how he acts on one of the country's main news programmes.

And what's more, all those precious fragile souls they do offend on the news - such as some easily offended politicians - will come back for more. Why? Because at the end of the day news programmes are objective arbiters... or as objective as it gets. Quentin Tarantino was wrong. He was not in a commercial. A commercial is what you buy. Commercials mean less in PR terms precisely because they are controlled, because they do exactly what you tell them to. News is much more valuable than a commercial to politicians, to businesses and, yes, to film makers, than any other way of getting your message out because it is scrutinised first. 

The solution in this case would have been for Tarantino to hold his temper  To explain that yes, the US premiere for his film was cancelled in light of the recent school shootings in Newtown - and he doesn't believe his films and real violence are linked - but right now he doesn't want to talk about it. He doesn't want to talk about it because he does not want to court publicity on the back of a genuine tragedy. At another time and another place he will be happy to discuss it... just not now.

Maybe that would have been enough, maybe not. He should have remembered, above all else, that you don't control the news. It's what makes it so special. But what it would mean would be that he could have kept his film - and not his craggy moment - in the limelight. 

Any last words of PR advice? Maybe one of his own scripts sums it up better than I can. These lines from Pulp Fiction, when Jules tries to stop a heist in a burger bar getting out of control:

JULES
We're gonna be like three little Fonzies here. And what's Fonzie like? Come on Yolanda what's Fonzie like? 

YOLANDA
Cool? 
JULES
What?
YOLANDA
He's cool. 

JULES
Correctamundo. And that's what we're gonna be. We're gonna be cool.