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October 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Jajasoon Tlitteu <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 24 Oct 1994 10:18:45 -0500
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (46 lines)
>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.
I would argue that thinking race is insignificant is a luxury reserved for
people with no race (i.e. whites).  While I don't think that the
interpretation of race in PF is simple and clear, race is certainly
> 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).
If race is so insignificant in this film, what other Hollywood pictures can
you think of recently that feature a black man / white woman couple
prominently?  Besides Jungle Fever, I think it's pretty rare.  So why is
this couple, which is at the core of this film in many ways, never really
seen together?  Why is the white woman shown predominantly with a white
man?  Why is the black man sexualized through violence and rape and
jealousy, but never shown as a "partner" in his interracial marriage?
I'm not trying to label this a "racist" film or point to "racist"
characters, as I think the term "racist" is irrelevant in a hopelessly
"racist" society.  If you can show me a person who is not "racist" (i.e.
judging people at least somewhat based on their race and racial
preconceptions), I'll be truly amazed.  There are racial questions in the
film, however, and I'd disagree vehemently with anyone who asserts that
race is more or less random in the film.
Let the sparks fly!
jajasoon tlitteu  ([log in to unmask])
"Academic training was instrumental.  You have to understand the language
of society before you can start stretching and subverting it and ripping
and tearing it and burning it and watching the plastic drip on the ants."