On Christmas Eve, I felt blessed to be surrounded by friends and family, all of us hardcore fans of Pulp Fiction. Unbeknownst to my husband, the entire 4-set collection of Pulp Fiction Action Figures was wrapped and waiting for him under the tree. The plan was to watch the movie and shout out our favorite lines of dialogue.
If you don’t care about Pulp Fiction, this is a good time for you to stop reading.
If you do: Achtung!
Having commented to my nephew, Russell, that The Gimp sequence was always hard for me to take, I settled into the action as Butch and Marcellus were trapped by the Racist Hillbillies in the back of the pawnshop. Becca, a beautiful young girl sitting on the floor near the TV, chided me for not knowing more about ball gags.
As Bruce Willis pauses at the door of the pawn shop, splattered with blood and about to escape, he stops and reconsiders. When he heads back into the lunacy of the back room, I am always moved by his heroism. I turned to my nephew and said, for pointless emphasis, “That’s character!”
“No it isn’t,” Russell replied, with a hint of annoyance at my stupidity. “Butch goes back to save his own ass. You can see the wheels turning in his head as he stands by the door! He’s thinking, if he leaves, he will always be a hunted man. Marcellus has given the order to kill him. If he saves Marcellus, the hit could be called off.”
I was astonished by this interpretation. This is one of my favorite Pulp Fiction moments, and Russell was daring to fuck it up.
“No, it’s pure selfless courage!” I insisted. “Butch can’t bear to leave Marcellus to his fate. The idea sickens him! It’s moral outrage! He’s standing right in front of the Confederate flag for Christsake! It represents racism and hillbillies! He even chooses a samurai sword as his weapon!”
Everyone else agreed with Russell, who tried to soften the blow by saying he was touched by my innocent, benevolent interpretation. I scolded him for being a cynic. And for denying that as always, the subject was The Love Between Men (see a post on that elsewhere at godammit.)
I have discussed this controversy with my experts, and the smartest among them supports my argument. He pointed out that the entire movie is about honor. It is brought up constantly, and explicitly. The watch scene; the statement that you don’t scratch another man’s car; Vince’s determination to put loyalty before lust. Even when Jules lets Ringo go, it’s a point of honor as a newly religious man. Hmph!
Okay then. Comments? Arguments? Pulp Fiction scholars and/or critics, please speak up.
Let me just add that it was a lovely Christmas Eve by any standard. Our friend Mishelle gave out lottery tickets and my kid won $70! Plus, my SweetSpot gifts were a big hit, resulting in a delighted scream of: “I LOVE VAGINA WIPES!”