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March 1995, Week 4


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"Edward R. O'Neill" <[log in to unmask]>
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 22 Mar 1995 15:38:25 CST
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Apparently, the writers participating in the never-ending *Pulp Fiction*
discussion either (a) weren't participating when the film came out, (b)
have forgotten that discussion or (c) don't think the discussion of
HOMOPHOBIA that came up back then is relevant to all this discussion of
"pride" and "heroism."
  At the risk of boring those who do remember, I'll simply point out
that saying that "pride" motivates Butch (that name!) to save his
nemesis from (gasp!) anal rape is to avoid thinking very seriously
about why gay anal rape in particular should need to be the
source of motivation for uniting Butch and his former boss. The choice
is hardly indifferent: he could have been held at gunpoint, tortured
with thumbscrews or whatnot, but no: he has to be banged by a couple
of runaways from *Deliverance*.
  To give some positive value to Butch's act (heroism or whatever) is
simply to fail to read Tarantino's much more complex text on masculinity,
friendship, race, violence and the anus as a tender site of male
fraternity, a site which--need I remind anyone--is very much on Butch's
mind, as it's his dear dead dad's ass-stored watch he endangers himself
to retrieve.
  Even as Tarantino's ballyhooed and damned for being ballyhooed,
what gets lost in the shuffle is the specificity of what he writes and
films, his complex dissertation on explosive and tender male bonds.
If there's anyone who's already dissected the terms "pride" and
"heroism" minutely, it's not me but Tarantino, if we could only stop
reading his films as offering some sort of set of values and instead
read their shifty transvaluation.
--Edward R. O'Neill, UCLA