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April 1995, Week 1


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Robert Burnham <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 3 Apr 1995 16:18:19 CDT
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Anyone out there interested in exchanging comments about the three Tarantino
films (Resevoir Dogs [RD], True Romance [TR] and Pulp Fiction [PF]).  I am
particularly intrigued by the representations of violence in each film.
Specifically, I have pinpointed two streams of possible "pleasures" of
violence gleaned by audience members.  Now, I am not in sociology so I don't
do questionnaires or surveys.  Rather, I am in cultural studies so I tend to
read the texts in a less empericalmore from the hip type way.
     Anyway, I am thinking that two possible streams may come from mythic
strands and emanations of the carnival (in the Bakhtinian sense).  By mythic
strands I mean those elements in the films that may represent, allude to,
characterize or reflect certain cultural axioms or patterns of meaning.  In
reading _Gunfighter Nation_ (Richard Slotkin), the American "myth" of the
gunfighter became an interesting matrix to use on the Tarantino films.
Certainly in RD contains mythic strands of the gunfighter - perhaps
especially in the Tim Roth character.  Now, in PF I am thinking that
Tarantino is perhaps imploding these mythic strands (the Bruce Willis
"gunfighteresque" character's brush with rape is perhaps indicative of this).
In addition, aspects of carnival appear esp. in PF.  Why is it that I laughed
when the nameless woman helping the Willis character out of the car wreck
is shot, screams, and is quickly forgotten?  Laughter is central to Bakhtin's
notion of the Carnivalesque.  So too is the idea that "common" people can,
for the duration of carnival, put on masks of authority, be subversive to
that authority and generally muck it up.  Perhaps the audience shares in this
subversion to authority by "laughing" at scenes which are clearly at odds
with certain moral fabrics and general human compassion.
I a ppreciate anyone actually reading this far.  If this is not suitable for
this list, anyone interested in talking can e-mail me privately (address
R. Scott Burnham                        Whatcha makin' there?
York University                         Looks like sodie-pop -
North York, Canada                      Watch it fizz...
E-Mail: [log in to unmask]                     - Foghorn Leghorn