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October 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Marc Pitre <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 25 Oct 1994 16:04:35 -0700
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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I have a few comments to make on J Roberson's responses to Jajasoon's
original post on this subject.
On Mon, 24 Oct 1994, J Roberson wrote:
> Personally I don't think in terms of race, so I would counter you
> by saying that *no one* has race; whites are not exclusive. If you look
> around the world, b=people group together culturally, not by skin color.
> I don't think an Australian Aborigine has much in common with a black
> Law professor at Yale, for instance.
As you imply, "race" is an imprecise, perhaps obsolete, term.  But from my
perspective, race is not just skin color.  I don't profess to have all the
answers, but definitely biology, geography and culture all historically
contribute to our current conceptions of race.
> At the core? At the end of the movie I realized that Uma lives, even
> though she isn't really seen in the rest of the story. Vincent
> escorting her was nothing more than an interesting story about
> an enforcer taking the boss's wife out for a date - no more no less.
> I didn't think about the "racial significance" until *you* brought
> it up.
And that's your perspective.  I, on the other hand, have been keenly aware
of the "racial significance" of black people (or lack thereof) and African
American cultural references and racial slurs in each of QT's films.
> One thing I'll concede, however, is that perhaps I didn't think about
> Marcellus and Uma (sorry, can't remember her character name) as a couple
> because they weren't onscreen together too much - if at all.
> I don't think of Marcellus as a black man.
I know "Pulp" is fiction, but if Marcellus were a living person, I'm sure
he'd consider himself a black man.  I'm a black man.  And despite the other
features of my personality by which others may know me, I'd be offended if
people who knew me, in person, refused to think of me as a black man.
I think of him as a mob
> boss. Indeed, before he was described as black in the second scene, I
> was thinking 20s-style gangsters, ala Capone.
> I think it depends on when you introduce the information. As I mentioned
> above, I was thinking Chicago Mafioso, not black gangster, until it was
> mentioned that Marcellus was black. I found that image hard to shake, and
> so through the rest of the film I saw him more as a race-less mob boss
> than a black hoodlum made good.
And here's where "racial significance" comes to the fore in your post.  Do
you mean to say that mob bosses are without race, but blacks in comparable
situations are hoodlums made good?  Why it easier for you attach "black"
to "hoodlum" than to "boss?"
> It's sort of like my early days on the net - I corresponded with one person
> whom I had never met in person. We wrote back and forth quite a bit, and
> he had this image of me - as the opposite sex that I am. Needless to
> say he was rather confused one day when I corrected him, but he later
> admitted that he never fully shook his original image.
> I just don't think that Tarantino was making too many comments on race
> in the film.
What QT intended is beside the point.  He continues to make films rife
with racial epithets and African American cultural references (right down
to the $5 milkshakes).  I'm intrigued by how willing people are to discuss
some qualities of his movies (e.g., violence, storytelling style) yet shy
away from, and even deny, the numerous racial/cultural aspects.