With multiple, bloody shooting deaths, brutal beatings and whippings, grisly dog attacks and one instance of threatened castration, "Django Unchained" is easily one of the most violent films in theaters at the moment. Yet don't try to tell director Quentin Tarantino that images displayed in films like "Django Unchained" lead to a rise in real-life violence.
During a recent interview on NPR, Tarantino became increasingly frustrated with host Terry Gross' line of questioning about whether "movie violence" became less "fun" after the massacre of 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
"Not for me," Tarantino said. When Gross pushed harder -- even calling the characters in films like "Django Unchained" sadistic -- Tarantino got upset.
"When you say, 'After the tragedy,' what do you mean by that exactly? Do you mean, 'On that day, would I watch 'The Wild Bunch'?' Maybe not on that day," Tarantino said. "Would I watch a kung fu movie three days after the Sandy Hook massacre? Maybe, because they have nothing to do with each other."
After that rhetorical exchange, Gross asked if Tarantino was becoming annoyed with their discussion.
"Yeah, I am. I'm really annoyed," Tarantino said. "I think it's disrespectful to their memory, actually ... to talk about movies,” he said. “I think it's totally disrespectful to their memory. Obviously, the issue is gun control and mental health.”
Continued Tarantino: "I've been asked this question for 20 years -- about the effects of violence in movies related to violence in real life. My answer is the same 20 years ago. It hasn't changed one iota. Obviously, I don't think one has to do with the other."
This isn't the first time Tarantino has defended "Django Unchained" against cries of outrage over its content. Even before the Sandy Hook murders, the director was explaining his depictions of violence in the film.
"We all intellectually 'know' the brutality and inhumanity of slavery," Tarantino said after a screening on Dec. 7, 2012, "but after you do the research it's no longer intellectual any more, no longer just historical record – you feel it in your bones. It makes you angry, and want to do something. I'm here to tell you, that however bad things get in the movie, a lot worse shit actually happened."
A recent poll conducted by The Hollywood Reporter in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders shows that 70 percent of consumers think Hollywood products like "Django Unchained" are too violent. Not that those thoughts have stopped people from seeing "Django Unchained": through Jan. 2, the film has grossed $82 million in North America and is on pace to become Tarantino's biggest box-office success.
To listen to Tarantino's complete interview with Terry Gross, head over to NPR.