Why Quentin Tarantino’s movies actually suck, Part I: Exploiting film actresses for his foot fetish


Photo credit: Kate Nuelle

illustration by Kate Nuelle

DISCLAIMER FOR THE COMMENT SECTION: First of all, this is not a personal attack on your taste in movies; we were all hoodwinked by the same algorithm. I am also not implying that Quentin Tarantino (QT) is untalented at directing or creative writing and am NOT SAYING that I could do any better — but I usually can’t sit through one of his films without wishing that I hadn’t, and I am always left with the feeling that maybe Tarantino movies only maintain popularity because the writer-director uses a repetitive formula and Samuel L. Jackson to distract from red flags about possible sexism and racism.

I don’t have the word count to dance around this first point against QT, so let’s just delve right into the alleged foot fetish — the presence of which is not my problem. Although not officially confirmed, the leading actresses in almost every single one of his movies are often featured barefoot for no apparent reason and have reported in interviews that he was strangely particular about their feet. Close-up shots of the leading ladies wiggling their toes or taking their shoes off come off as quirky and innocent to me at first, and I wrote it off as some artistic choice to explore some facet of others we don’t often see, etc.; but I gave too much undue credit. After watching several of his movies — with no prior knowledge of QT’s sexual preferences — the sheer number of foot-based shots made it impossible to ignore the window for an easy abuse of power.

The objectification of women’s bodies is so normalized that it’s expected in Hollywood films, but both the accounts of actresses who describe their experience working with him, as well as his consistent denial of any such fetish — denial that would allow him to maintain the position of power with which he is able to exploit the women he works with — makes me suspicious that the number of female feet present in a Tarantino film appear only to be increasing due to self-gratifying motives, and not artistic ones.

For all the feet QT has directed to stardom, it is actually a movie that he wrote and co-starred in alongside George Clooney, but did not direct, that best exemplifies QT potentially abusing his role to fulfill a sexual fantasy, and in doing so sexually harassing an actress. In “From Dusk Til Dawn,” QT writes a scene in which a stripper, played by Salma Hayek, pours champagne down her leg and into Tarantino’s open mouth for her performance’s big finale. Armed with the combined knowledge that QT personally wrote the entire script for the movie AND is rumored to be attracted to women’s feet, it is very uncomfortable to watch QT blissfully lick champagne off of Salma Hayek’s toes, and it becomes difficult to view the scene as anything but a thinly veiled attempt of QT’s to act out a personal sexual fetish by writing his character a scene quite literally dripping with it.

QT has so far merely toed — pun unintended, but awesome — the line onscreen between what can be considered poetic license and what crosses over into sexual exploitation, but taken as a collective, both his repeated, excessively violent depictions of women and allegedly questionable on-set behavior towards them gives one the impression of a closet misogynist hiding behind the label of “eccentric artist.” The “Kill Bill” movie series (2003, 2004) and “Pulp Fiction” (1994) led Uma Thurman to accuse Tarantino in a New Yorker interview of forcing her to perform dangerous stunts she was uncomfortable with that left her seriously and permanently injured, as well as insisting that he be the one to add in some of the film’s more “sadistic flourishes.” While Thurman technically consented to these acts, QT leveraging his position as director and pressuring her into them indicates a gendered abuse of power.

The female characters in Tarantino films appear to be strong, empowered heroines who shoot and slash and dance their way to victory and apparently all hate shoes; however, they also all tend to suffer intensively in an extremely sexualized way throughout the film (see “V for Vendetta,” “Death Point,” “Kill Bill”: Vols. 1 and 2 and “Django Unchained” for the best examples). The women are almost always given a cold, ruthless man to either fear, follow or both, and are portrayed as weak until they have undergone some extreme trauma or suffering that finally qualifies them as worthy of facing men who likely did nothing but sit on a barstool giving 20-minute dialogues for the whole movie. The majority of women I know have trouble watching QT movies at all due to the sheer number of scenes where women are brutally and graphically r*ped, shot, overdosed, tortured, abused, etc. Violence against women is already a too-common occurrence, and Tarantino’s depiction of these events is so hyperbolic and unnecessary that it seems as if his films are obsessed with celebrating this violence to the point of fetishizing it too.

The takeaway from QT Sucks, Pt. 1 is not that foot fetishes are evil, but that A) Quentin Tarantula “allegedly” —but definitely — has a foot fetish, which B) he has expressed in movies, and C) he may seek to satisfy by abusing his position as writer-director and sexually exploiting actresses. Additionally, I believe his movies sexualize and promote comic book-like violence against women in a way that appears to be potentially desensitizing for male viewers, blinding them to the misogyny inherent both in sexualizing innocuous parts of a woman’s body and especially in viewing even the fictional torture of her as entertaining and/or sexual. For these reasons, it is strike one for Quinoa Tarantino.