Clareified

Where does the good go

Pulp Fiction Tuesday is BACK! (by guest blogger Ugarles)

There is a reason Clareified has Pulp Fiction Tuesdays: Pulp Fiction is an excellent movie. It has plenty of great scenes. It has some amazing acting performances. It has memorable, quotable lines. Sadly, it will never be considered a perfect movie. There are a few reasons for this too, but I’ve already spent too much time masturbating through this opening paragraph. Pulp Fiction will, primarily, never be a perfect movie because Quentin Tarantino didn’t have someone powerful enough tell him that he shouldn’t be acting in movies.

It was a lesson that should have been learned in Reservoir Dogs. The opening scene in the diner is made memorable by Steve Buscemi’s Randian rant about waitresses, tipping and charity. It is almost made completely forgettable – and it is understandable if you’ve never seen Buscemi or the rest of the movie because of this – because it opens with Tarantino slogging through a profane reinterpretation of Like A Virgin. It isn’t that his thesis is without merit – and it is without merit – it is that he says it about as smoothly as an ESL student reading off of cue cards while chewing gum. Tarantino saves the movie by promptly having Mr. Brown killed off before he can do further damage. But this is not Reservoir Dogs Tuesdays and we return to our regular programming.

Not only did Tarantino not learn the lesson that he should never, ever act in a movie, he gave himself a part in Pulp Fiction and he doesn’t quickly kill himself off. He treats us to even more mealy-mouthed dialog and this time, as a bonus, throws in a spectacularly racist scene and throws a lot of smoke and mirrors around in the hopes that we won’t notice. I speak of course, of The Bonnie Situation or, more to the point, “dead nigger storage.”

This is an appallingly bad scene. It starts out with Samuel L. Jackson seeming to act poorly – though I’d chalk that up to Jules failing to act like kissing Jimmy’s ass comes naturally to him. But Jules doesn’t talk for very long. He is cut off by Jimmy, ranting with ferret-faced fury about “the dead nigger in the garage.”

Now.

I know that Jules is not happy that his friend is dead. I know that Jules is not happy that he had to come to Jimmy for help. I also know that Jules would have shot Jimmy dead and let the cops deal with Bonnie and sort out the two dead bodies at Jimmy’s house before he’d allow Jimmy to throw around the n-word without repercussions. So why does this scene exist?

1) To show how down he is with black people. Not only is Jimmy Jules’ friend, Jimmy’s wife is black. He is so down, that he can use the n-word like he’s black himself.

2) So that he can say the word nigger a dozen times, right in Samuel L. Jackson’s face without getting the beat-down that he deserves. This is the kind of ironic hipster racism that makes it understandable that the very, very liberal alt-comic scene is also pretty fucking white.

I might be able to forgive the racism as insight into the characters, but, you know what? It isn’t even a particularly well-written scene.

19 Responses to “Pulp Fiction Tuesday is BACK! (by guest blogger Ugarles)”

  1. Mary Says:

    That is one flaw I have with Tarantino movies as well – he’s a horrible actor! Sometimes I think he makes movies just so he can have a part in them. Ugh! Stay behind the camera Quentin.

  2. Dawn summers Says:

    He totally worked in from dusk till dawn!

  3. Charles Star Says:

    He got killed off in From Dusk Till Dawn.

  4. Mary Says:

    I cheered when he was killed in From Dusk Til Dawn. Plus I was pretty much distracted by George Clooney.

  5. Dawn Summers Says:

    I didn’t understand this line of your post:

    I know that Jules is not happy that his friend is dead. I know that Jules is not happy that he had to come to Jimmy for help.

  6. Charles Star Says:

    1) Marvin was Jules’ friend.

    2) It is humiliating for a guy like Jules to have to run to a wiener like Jimmy for help.

  7. Dawn Summers Says:

    WHA? Marvin was Brett’s friend!

  8. Chilly Says:

    I never came away from watching Pulp Fiction thinking that Marvin and Jules were friends. Marvin was a guy that did a job, not a friend.

  9. Dawn Summers Says:

    No, Marvin was a dude that just happened to be in an apartment and he survived because Jules happened to have a religious ephinany before he could kill him!

  10. Pearatty Says:

    Hahahahahaha. Charles thinks all black people are friends! #racist.

  11. Pearatty Says:

    Also, I believe I am on record as having found this scene jarring for the badness of Tarantino’s performance long before I knew who he was.

  12. Alceste Says:

    Marvin was their “man inside” — not just a random person who happened to survive (although I don’t remember any suggestion that he was jules’ friend — just a fellow employee of Marcellus)

  13. Dawn Says:

    WHAT? Where are you getting this? Okay, my officemate concurs that Marvin is the man on the inside. I will surrender the point…but wow, I never got that.

  14. Charles Star Says:

    “Friends” may have been a strong word. They were on the same team.

    “Team Black People,” obvs.

  15. Jamie Says:

    I think the flaw in recognizing Marvin for who he is is that Tarantino filmed him totally freaking the f*** out when Brett gets killed. If Marvin was the ‘man inside’, wouldn’t he know that Brett and his pals were going to eventually get what was coming to them? Jules and Vincent obviously recognized Marvin, so wouldn’t he know them as well and feel somewhat safe when they came strolling in?

  16. Dawn Summers Says:

    RIGHT! What jamie said.

  17. Pearatty Says:

    Jules and Vincent obviously recognized Marvin, so wouldn’t he know them as well and feel somewhat safe when they came strolling in?

    Well, if Marvin is part of Marcellus’ larger team, but not exactly buds with Jules and Vincent, he might well be freaked out — as in, “shit, Marcellus just sent his hit men to deal with this, what if he blames me for fucking it up?”

  18. Pearatty Says:

    But yeah, I never got that Marvin was the guy inside either.

  19. Alceste Says:

    Marvin very obviously moves into a corner of the room after he opens the door to jules and vincent.

    The dialog before they go in:

    JULES We should have shotguns for this
    kind of deal.

    VINCENT
    How many up there?

    JULES
    Three or four.

    VINCENT
    Counting our guy?

    JULES
    I’m not sure.

    VINCENT
    So there could be five guys up
    there?

    JULES
    It’s possible.

    VINCENT
    We should have fuckin’ shotguns.

    And then afterwards, Vincent starts going on after Marvin about why he didn’t tell them about the guy in the bathroom with a gun.

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