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October 1994


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 28 Oct 1994 12:06:33 -0600
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J Roberson writes:
"I don't think Tarantino is just out to yank our chains. After thinking
about it a bit, I don't remember the characters discussing race and sex
too much. . .it just *is*. ..maybe that's his point, or rather, maybe
his point is that if you just let it be and get on with your life, however
you decide to, things will be better - not an argument for sitting
back and not changing things, but an argument for doing what you will
do without tripping out over what culture you're in, how to deal with a
partner of another race, etc. . ."
"it just *is* . . . " *Precisely*, but only within in the context of the
movie. There are people's private lives, there are private lives as
presented by films and other media, but the two are not parallel. Private
lives on film are always part of a discourse, a re-presentation of some
*kind* of reality. Now, since I'm not at all sure that we are to interpret
PF as anything but a *fictional* "reality," the lives that we see depicted
are being presented--offered, as it were for our inspection. Yet all of
the issues revolving around these lives (race, sadism--homosexual or
otherwise, drugs, etc.) are so loaded with cultural connotations that I'm
quite sure QT knows they will stir up the kind of discussion seen on this
net. And that's what I mean by "yanking our chains."
QT is, like Hitchcock, keenly aware of how to manipulate an audience, but
his brand of manipulation veers somewhat farther into the social realm
than Hitchcock's did. This doesn't mean that he (like Hitchcock) might
not have some interesting or even important things to "say." I just
don't think that those things are a form of social discourse that announces,
say, "Race is important" or "Race is unimportant." Perhaps it "says"
something like, "I'm going portray race in certain ways that will provoke
some kind of reaction from you, *because* race is coonsidered to be
important in our society, regardless of what any given individual might
In this way, I see QT not as a preacher (like Oliver Stone) but as a lab
technician (if not a scientist), dispassionately experimenting with his
subjects (us, the viewers).
--Don Larsson, Mankato State U., MN