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October 1994


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Denis Henry Hennelly <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 19 Oct 1994 20:29:54 EST
text/plain (31 lines)
I think attributing criticism of the basement torture scene to homophobia
assumes that the criticism is focused on the specific act of torture.  To
call it homophobia is akin to referring to criticism of a rape scene as
sexism.  I do not object to the specifics of the scene; it seems to me that
whether the tortured individuals are being sodomized or having their eyes
gouged out is irrelevant to this issue.  I considered the scene gratuitous
because of its absurdity.  Now I realize that this will elicit posts
saying that the entire film is absurd, which in some ways is true, so
I will defend the statement now.  It is a graphic absurdity, an exploitation
of the shop owner and security guard... these characters are not developed
even minutely, their actions and personalities rely entirely on stereotypes.
The images presented in the scene do not deepen the meaning of the film
or the characters involved.  It functions simply as an opportunity to
place the boxer and crime boss in an awful horrifying situation.  Perhaps
it seems gratuitous because of the already overwhelming number of
extraordinary coincidences leading up to it.  It may be argued that
this is the beauty of the film, but I think the beauty of the film lies
more in its reality, in its logic, however twisted.  In the current
Rolling Stone, Tarantino states that he is interested in portraying real
violence, not cartoon violence.  He says this after a story is related
regarding Wes Craven walking out of Reservoir Dogs because of the
violence (a compliment, in Craven's words).  The basement scene, especially
due to "the gimp," seems to function as a novelty, a cheap trick to
trigger the gag reflex.  Maybe I'll change my mind.  This analysis just
springs from me imagining the film without that scene and liking my
imagined version better.  Though of course I thought the film was brilliant
as it was.
denis hennelly