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October 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 24 Oct 1994 14:37:20 -0600
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Marc writes:
"QT's free use of the word "nigger" does not necessarily make him or his
characters evil, but it unequivocally stirs our society's simmering pot of
ethnic stereotypes and viewers' conceptions of black people and African
American culture.  I don't know if QT's liberal use of racial slurs is
good or bad, but it's definitely not random."
Now that you mention it, I think of Dennis Hopper's monologue when facing
death-as-Christopher-Walken in TRUE ROMANCE about the origin of Sicilians.
As I watched, I was torn in two directions by the appaling racism of the
anecdote and the admiration for Hopper's character, who is deliberately
provoking Walken in order to avoid torture and betrayal of Slater.  I think
Tarantino (is that a Sicilian name?) is deliberately pulling our strings
with such conflicting signals.
As to the date with Mia (and how about *that* for a name choice), the question
of race may be muted, but it's even there in the names they give the
As I see it, race is not a matter on which Tarantino chooses to make a
"statement" (in fact, there's darn little that he makes "statements" about,
including violence in society--that's the difference between him and Stone).
Rather, race is just another element to be played with and to use as a
plot device or way to manipulate audience feelings.  In that sense, it's
just a McGuffin.  (But can race ever be just a McGuffin? That's a question
I'll leave to wiser heads than mine!)
--Don Larsson, Mankato State U., MN