Over at Slate, Tim Noah hits me from as he puts it, “Blame[ing] Quentin Tarantino” for Abu Ghraib. To support his case, he quotes this paragraph from my column earlier this week: “Consider the iconic film of the 1990s, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. It includes a scene of the rape of a man imprisoned and kept as a sexual slave, which prompted laughs in theaters. The victim, ‘The Gimp,’ became a figure of fun. Tarantino’s latest, the Kill Bill movies, present the same romance of power and violence, arbitrarily and stylishly wielded. Cruelty, Tarantino tells us, can be fun.”
The very next sentence, which Noah didn’t see fit to quote is this one: “This is not to say that the filmmaker, or anyone besides those who committed and condoned the acts, is in any way responsible for Abu Ghraib.” That would seem at least, uh, to complicate Noah’s case that I’m “Blame[ing] Quentin Tarantino.” For him not to quote it seems pretty dishonest. I knew that column was on very touchy ground and went out of my way to try to protect myself from being distorted, but apparently I didn’t make it fully Noah-proof.
My point was that we like to tell ourselves, at least most of the time, that we abhor cruelty and sexual perversity, but that parts of our culture actually celebrate both. A final note: I messed up that scene from Pulp Fiction. It’s apparently not The Gimp who gets raped, although he is kept as a sexual slave.