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denis asks about homophobic possibilities in the basement scene, and
raises a question abt "real violence." i think these are related.
 
while i think the scene is representing the most depraved characters imaginable
in a u.s. cultural imaginary (read "most depraved" in scare quotes)--they're
racist fiends--the use of male rape as the scariest possible sign is
worth noting. i do see this image as being abt power: the rednecks call
both willis/butch and rhames/marsellus "niggers," and it's unclear
exactly what torture is coming up until we see it (i guess, though this may
assume you haven't seen enough movies.....) the point is that anal rape
is the worst possible fate, and the one that "deserves" dire payback. this
seems to me to be less homophobic than abt the homophobia that remains
rampant in the u.s.-guy-imaginary.
i'll add this: rhames/marsellus *is* raped, willis/butch is not. so we have
some racial switching/specifics that recodes the "deliverance scene-ness" of
this scene (and alludes, i thnink, to sweetback, etc., the virile black
male image that is still nervous-making for a white imaginary). so this
scene is abt race and sex (aren't they all?).....
 
abt the "real violence" thing: well, yeah, tarantino "says" this is what he's
doing. who really ares what he "says," though. depalma said scarface was
not glorifying tony, either. what makes this "real" in any way? the
unexpectedness/off-the-formula-trackness of it? we've noticed how closely
pulp fiction sticks to formula in imagery and narrative, this is indeed part
of its charm and interest. (charm used advisedly, of course.) so my
questino is, what makes this "more" real" or rather more "realistic"
than something else....?
 
cindy fuchs