Quentin Tarantino’s film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has been criticized for a scene in which Mike Moh portrays Bruce Lee, the legendary martial artist. The scene portrays the late Lee as a cocky clown who gets his just desserts when an old white guy (Brad Pitt) beats him up. Criticism came in the form of public statements by Lee’s daughter and basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar, a close friend of Lee’s.
We thought we’d let Tarantino defend his movie. Here’s what he had to say:
A lot of people are mad about my portrayal of Bruce Lee, from my movie Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, which I’m sure you’ve seen. But those people are forgetting that my film is a fictional portrayal. See, Bruce Lee will do whatever I tell him to do, because he’s my character. It’s just like it’s always great to imagine your favorite fictional characters getting into fights. Superman and Batman, Batman and the Hulk, Superman and Jesus.
It’s the same thing with real people. You can use them like fictional characters. Bruce Lee is a really cool guy, so wouldn’t it be cool to see him being beaten up, by a white guy?
See, I can’t be racist because…I have a posse. I have a lot of black friends. I have Jamie Foxx, and Samuel Jackson is my friend, and there’s…Jamie Foxx, and Samuel Jackson. It’s literally impossible for me to be racist because I listen to a lot of really cool soul music. Also, I like Dolemite a lot. There’s not really a lot of spaghetti westerns with black people, but that’s because there were no black people in Italy at the time. That’s why it’s not racist to like them, see?
Margot Robbie is really cool in the movie. How come nobody’s talking about that? When I give a woman a great part and show how hot she is, nobody wants to talk about that. People have forgotten how hot Sharon Tate was, and I reminded them of that. Why am I not getting credit for that?
I hope that clears things up. Bruce Lee was cool, but at the same time, it can be really cool to see a cool person get beat up. See?