“Pulp Fiction is a perfect example of a postmodern text” – Discuss.

Pulp Fiction is one of a few recognised films for its extraordinary conventions and the ingenious directing that Quentin Tarantino brings to the screen. Despite attracting target audiences that are interested in the gangster’s genre of film, Tarantino presents numerous representations and links to previous icon and recognised films. The advantage of this method is that through the diverse range of genre references made throughout the film it creates a mutual level of understanding between the different audiences and Tarantino; this is important the cultural code enables Tarantino to gain the interest and trust from the audience as they can rely on his knowledge to relate to the public. Tarantino was hugely influenced by Jean Luc Godardwhich perhaps was the reason behind the extent of his many strong references to iconic events and people resulting in creating an illusion the opposite of reality. This alone links to Plato’s theory of forms where be believed for every ‘thing’ that existed in reality there was a duplicate in another world however this was presented as a form and so not literal or reality. These influences encouraged Tarantino to create parodies in his films and the best example of this is Pulp Fiction, in addition to this he also subverted film conventions which caused the effect of removing reality by creating an image within the film that is widely recognised as fake or not real. Their are many elements within the film which suggest that Pulp Fiction is one of many films that falls under a category of postmodern media, however to suggest that it is a perfect example may not be so straight forward. A clear example where Tarantino deliberately creates an a false sense of reality is where the mise en scene is manipulated in the car scene with Butch travelling in the taxi; the black and white back-drop behind the car windows harshly contrasts with Butch’s clothing and the rest of the taxi’s interior. However, more importantly the connotation of this makes reference to the quality of the camera when this film was made (the colour inside of the taxi) and before coloured film (the black and white back drop). This example supports part of Dominic Strinati’s quote that he made in 1992 - "Media images encourage superficiality rather than substance, cynicism rather than belief, the thirst for constant change rather than security of stable traditions, the desires of the moment rather than the truths of history". This suggests that Tarantino’s efforts to remove reality is due to recent cultural behaviour to rebel against what people believe to be reality, although because postmodern media has reached such extremes society now questions what really is reality therefore the illusions made by Tarantino may be so dramatic because he feels the need to emphasis his own world of new reality. Similarly Tarantino makes reference to The Mason-Dixon Line. Surveyed between 1763 and 1767 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, this line was the resolution of a border dispute between British colonies in Colonial America. Consequently it is what forms a demarcation line making contact with four US states and forming part of their borders, these included; Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia. This is now part of cultural history as it symbolises the boundary between the Northern United States and the Southern United

States; it is this that Tarantino adapts to fit in to Pulp Fiction. It appears in the scene where Marcellus and Butch are assaulted, this happens in a shop by the person working in the shop and a policeman; the connection is relevant as the shop in this scene is called Masion-Dixon. The historical reference of slave owners and non slave owners from either side of the Masion-Dixon line is highlighted within the scene through the cultural differences between Marcellus’s power of reputation and Butch’s physical power which contrast to the status that the shop owner holds. Tarantino reversed these levels of power through the event of sexual assault being acted upon Marcellus; this in any persons mind wouldn’t be realistic and however the main reference to the line and its connotations emphasis the power of Tarantino’s new reality. In contrast to the previous points there is one reference that’s impact is lost because the consistency is broken by a few shots. To create this particular element of new reality Tarantino planned to have all clocks visible in scenes to be set to 4:20; this implied that the whole duration for the story within the film happened at the same time, as if it didn’t happen or exist at all. Similarly Tarantino manipulates time throughout the film by ordering the scene deliberately not in chronological order, and so some of these scenes appear as flashbacks however the rest are just extra information about the past revealed to the audience later in the film allowing viewer to try and piece together what’s happened and what is next to happen. As it happens this specific time of 4:20 makes another link; 420 is known as slang for smoking marijuana, this originated in California when students from San Rafael High School would meet up at 4:20 after school to smoke marijuana at the Louise Pasteur statue. This was originated because the students wanted to be recognised as a subculture of people who smoked the drug; Tarantino clearly links this in with the gangster lifestyle portrayed though Jules and Vincent’s characters. However this clear reference may be seen as ruined due to the two scenes when the clocks are set to 8:15 and 7:22am; the impact is lost because of this. Overall I feel that that Pulp Fiction is indeed a perfect example of postmodernism because of the extent of detailed references involved in the film, including those that are widely recognised such as iconic names and people as well as events that may not be so widely known. However it is these elements that piece together a new world of time and place, all contributing to a new reality.

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