Back in 2019, Quentin Tarantino faced a lot of outrage for his portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. And despite the passage of two years, the critics have not gone quiet. In his appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience, Tarantino again defended his portrayal of the legendary Hollywood actor. And now in response, Shannon Lee has clapped back at the director with some harsh words.
Tarantino told Joe Rogan about his thoughts on the criticism he received over Bruce Lee. He said the only criticism that he somewhat understands is that coming from Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee. The director said:
I can understand his daughter having a problem with it, it’s her f***ing father, I get that. Everybody else: go suck a d***.
Furthermore, Tarantino mentioned how Bruce Lee was actually quite rude to stuntmen on set, detailing through references in books how he was a bit of an “a**hole”. However, these comments did not evade Shannon’s eyes, as Bruce Lee’s daughter then wrote a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter, responding to Tarantino’s claims in detail.
Bruce Lee’s daughter doubles down on Tarantino in a lengthy op-ed
In her op-ed, Shannon wrote that Tarantino perpetuated Hollywood’s “dispensable stereotype” against her father. She called her father’s depiction “inaccurate and unnecessary to say the least”. The 52-year-old wrote in her column:
And while I am grateful that Mr. Tarantino has so generously acknowledged to Joe Rogan that I may have my feelings about his portrayal of my father, I am also grateful for the opportunity to express this: I’m really f***ing tired of white men in Hollywood trying to tell me who Bruce Lee was. I’m tired of hearing from white men in Hollywood that he was arrogant and an a**hole when they have no idea and cannot fathom what it might have taken to get work in 1960s and ’70s Hollywood as a Chinese man with (God forbid) an accent, to try to express an opinion on a set as a perceived foreigner and person of color.
Shannon further continued her polemic against Tarantino and Hollywood in general:
I’m tired of white men in Hollywood mistaking his confidence, passion, and skill for hubris and therefore finding it necessary to marginalize him and contributions. I’m tired of white men in Hollywood finding it too challenging to believe that Bruce Lee might have really been good at what he did and maybe even knew how to do it better than them.
Furthermore, Shannon Lee tried to dispel all the myths that are circulated about her father. For years, Bruce Lee has been subjected to some vile stereotypes that are unacceptable to his daughter. She further wrote in the column:
And while we’re at it, I’m tired of being told that he wasn’t American (he was born in San Francisco), that he wasn’t really friends with James Coburn, that he wasn’t good to stuntmen, that he went around challenging people to fight on film sets, that my mom said in her book that my father believed he could beat up Muhammad Ali (not true), that all he wanted was to be famous, and so much more.
She also believes Tarantino could have shot a better scene
Even from a critical point of view, Bruce Lee’s daughter believes Quentin Tarantino could have made the scene better even by including her father in it. She wrote:
Look, I understand what Mr. Tarantino was trying to do. I really do. Cliff Booth is such a bad*** and a killer that he can beat the crap out of Bruce Lee. Character development. I get it. I just think he could have done it so much better.
However, Shannon highlights that Tarantino simply mocked Bruce Lee entirely, stereotyping his existence as they always did. And that is not in any way an accurate portrayal of her father. Furthermore, she highlighted how could Tarantino’s fictional Cliff (Brad Pitt) even beat the very real Bruce Lee. She further wrote:
But instead, the scene he created was just an uninteresting tear-down of Bruce Lee when it didn’t need to be. It was white Hollywood treating Bruce Lee as, well, white Hollywood treated him — as a dispensable stereotype. But that was Mr. Tarantino’s creative device that he chose, so he initially claimed, though now he seems to be arguing that this is actually an accurate portrayal of Bruce Lee and is what would have happened if indeed Cliff Booth (a fictitious person) and the real Bruce Lee (if he were a mediocre, arrogant martial artist) had squared off.
Lastly, Shannon Lee emphasized that she doesn’t want Tarantino to love Bruce Lee or anything. Instead, all she wants is for him not to pass any further comments on her father. It’s fine that the film and book have already been made, but passing further judgments on Bruce Lee is unacceptable to Shannon, as she wrote:
Mr. Tarantino, you don’t have to like Bruce Lee. I really don’t care if you like him or not. You made your movie and now, clearly, you’re promoting a book. But in the interest of respecting other cultures and experiences you may not understand, I would encourage you to take a pass on commenting further about Bruce Lee and reconsider the impact of your words in a world that doesn’t need more conflict and fewer cultural heroes. Under the sky, under the heavens, we are one family, Mr. Tarantino, and I think it’s time for both of us to walk on.
Apart from this, Quentin Tarantino is bowing out of his career in Hollywood with one last film. Many tried to convince him to continue with his career, as he’s still at the peak of his game, but to no avail.