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October 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Curtis Wilcox <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 24 Oct 1994 02:51:19 -0400
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Okay I'm going to try to give my take on this. I'd like to respond to some
people's posts about it but I don't seem to get their point (it may be
obscured by lots of forebrain talk).
I don't think the men of the basement were homosexual. I think they were
sadists. Maybe I could have taken southerners and the leather bondage to be
cinematic cues to homosexuality but I didn't (I've seen Deliverance but not
Cruisin') so I didn't know before the door opened what they were doing. One
guy putting his penis in another guy's anus does not mean it is homosexual
sex. It was rape and rape is not sex.
Marcellus could have been shamed by being tortured (in a different way) and
crying like a baby. It would call into question his masculinity (at least in
his mind and the mind of his cohorts) but being raped is worse because it
calls into question his sexuality as well (this is a real effect of rape).
Sure, the characters Butch and Marcellus were probably homophobic to some
degree but Tarantino doesn't put it in the film so it can't be said
definitively. Butch went back to save Marcellus from torture and death (and
to get a little revenge) and Macellus was going to go "medieval on his ass"
to exact revenge on his torturer and would-be killer. They were not motivated
to get the "fags" that tied them up.
The scene may play into some ignorant people's ideas and fears about
homosexuality but that is because of what that audience member brings to the
film. I think to say that this is occurs universally or that it was done
intentionally (and I'm not saying that anyone is saying this) is wrong.
As for race in Pulp Fiction (at least one person is connecting the two so
I'll respond here), I think that the race of the different characters is
highly insignificant. You can read whatever you want to into the image of a
southern white man raping a black man but that depends on what you bring to
it, not on what is there or intended. The sadists obviously use "nigger" to
mean inferior and possessed but only has a racial component as a legacy of
the word's origin. Other uses of "nigger" in the movie seem to imply
inferiority but only mildly as it is used frequently without regard for the
race of any character. I can't think of a single character which I would say
was definitely racist. The sadists probably were but they didn't really make
choices based on race (Marcellus went into the room first by chance unless
you want to digress further and argue that the"eannie-meannie-meinnie-moe"
was not random).