Despite featuring drug use, alcoholism, promiscuity, anti-capitalism, anti-Americanism, and anti-police rhetoric, the newly released Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood is without doubt the most conservative movie of 2019.
In fact it is because of all these plot elements that the film is clearly an attack on the 60s counterculture and the values that emerged out of it.
I don’t want to give away the superb ending. No spoilers here! The film is so perfect that I even want to avoid revealing some of the plot lines. Therefore, explaining why Once Upon a Time is conservative is a little difficult. But believe me when I say that you should go and see it immediately.
The movie is a celebration of conservative values. It extols the link between hard work and success and happiness while condemning the nihilistic anti-American bile that constituted the liberal hippy movement which emerged out of 1960s California.
In the film, the hippie members of Charles Manson’s “family” are portrayed with no sympathy, no context, no backstory. There is no attempt to humanize them and justify what they were later to do. In reality, they were simply self-entitled, horrible people who didn’t know that they were horrible people and Tarantino portrays them as such. These are people who protested the Vietnam War, claiming it was about murder, and then proceeded to murder a pregnant woman and several innocent people. In the film, Tarantino pays no favors to these characters. They’re villains, plain and simple.
The film’s protagonists received quite the opposite treatment. The characters played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and others are portrayed as hard working people of various talents. In short, talented people who work hard are treated well in this film. Self-absorbed, drug taking hypocritical hippies are not. That’s not to say that the non-hippies are perfect. They are shown as imperfect human beings - there is even speculation that one has committed murder in the past.
However this character emerges as a hero of sorts and perhaps, by saving others, redeeming himself for past wrongs. The DiCaprio character, Rick Dalton, is an alcoholic - but like any good conservative Tarantino points out that being a drunk - even in Hollywood - has consequences. Dalton is shown to be on the way out and struggling. At the beginning of Once Upon a Time that struggle is portrayed as being as the result of a changing Hollywood and the decline in popularity of the western. However, later the character is shown forgetting his lines and admitting his failure is as a result of his alcoholism. Actions have consequences, Mr. Tarantino seems to be telling the audience.
At heart, Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood is a morality tale. The R-rated film is probably not for everyone, but if you are conservative and able to stomach the language and violence, it is well worth seeing.
Phelim McAleer is the co-host of the Podcast The Ann And Phelim Scoop.The podcast will be posted weekly every Wednesday on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and other podcasting platforms. See the full list of providers here. It is also available on video via YouTube.