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Filmspotting Message Boards => Movie Talk (Spoiler Edition) => Topic started by: Totoro on January 25, 2016, 06:52:18 PM

Title: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: Totoro on January 25, 2016, 06:52:18 PM
Listening to the Nerdist podcast, Hardwick asks Tarantino a question like, "What's your favorite death scene in one of your movies?" And Tarantino first says when Marvin gets killed in Pulp Fiction. Everyone laughs.

 ???

Apparently this was a funny scene? I guess it's played for humor too but I never found it that funny. I found it pretty sad and dark that they "accidentally" killed this young black man. The subsequent story of them covering it up is also played mostly straight for laughs and I never found much of it funny either. But I may also be further in the minority by stating - I also just don't get why the Marvin story needs to exist. It's the least interesting story to me in Pulp Fiction. All it does is reinforce the fact that these characters are bad people which isn't needed to be further restated after the first two stories.
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: 1SO on January 25, 2016, 07:18:41 PM
It reinforces the casual way these criminals deal with death. It's not a major event in their lives, but part of the lifestyle they've grown into. This combines with their near death minutes earlier, leading Jules to his decision at the restaurant.

And the color of Marvin's skin has nothing to do with these events. It's not any sort of comment on race. It's the wild part of the Bonnie Situation story.

How do you feel about what happens to Marsellus Wallace in the basement?

All it does is reinforce the fact that these characters are bad people which isn't needed to be further restated after the first two stories.
Then maybe that's not all it does. I thought it showed that - like with any profession - there are pros and there are idiots. Travolta's character is an idiot, especially when it comes to be careless with loaded weapons, which is why he ends up on the bad end of Bruce Willis.
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: maņana on January 25, 2016, 08:25:26 PM
I thought it was funny.
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: chardy999 on January 26, 2016, 02:01:28 AM
Hilarious.

And also all the actual explanations of 1SO.  ;D
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: verbALs on January 26, 2016, 03:21:31 AM
The murder of the guy on the couch in the previous scene is a lot more disturbing. It is premeditated rather than being a stupid accident. It's sole aim is to shut someone up who is talking too much. That's a completely pointless act that only "looks cool" in the context of the movie it serves.

The stupid accident in the car is farce. I've seen very funny farce; particularly Feydeau. If you analyse it pratfall humour always sounds puerile. The punchline in farce is generally the stupid act and then the tension and nerves that come from covering up the mistake. This part of PF follows that process. If farce isn't funny to any individual then that's fine but that doesn't mean farce isn't humour.

I suppose if Tarantino made some weird point about it being funny that it's a black guy being shot then that would deserve comment. Otherwise I'm not aware that Marvin's race has much bearing on whether it's farce or not.

Perhaps the current race debate at the Oscars has its roots in this level of thinking. It might be safer not to shoot or punch any minority. If you just shoot or punch a white Anglo Saxon type you'll not risk raising this delicate issue. Perhaps when this becomes the way people start thinking then the issue has become overly delicate. So I have to ask; is this how people seriously think? I've heard the discussion over JJLeigh being punched a lot in The Hateful 8. Would it have been easier for Tarantino to have cast a white man to be repeatedly punched? Of course it would, in the light of the discussion that followed. So Tarantino can be seen to be courting this controversy obviously, with his casting. What reaction does it get if I say that Daisy Domergue looks tougher because she can take a punch and ends up looking the baddest badass of the bunch? If it was just another man in that role Tarantino loses a dramatic element. In his way of thinking he might just think it would make his film more bland. Of course, he knows what placing black men in a film and calling them "n..." Or punching women will do. It will cause a discussion, controversy or offence. I can see he is either brazenly or bravely using those story elements. My personal PoV is that I'm tired with it because he hammers the same point repeatedly so I start ignoring it. That's the reaction I always feel when I think my chain is being jerked; just like in any dull piece of storytelling- I can see the strings being pulled or the buttons being pushed and I ignore it. I'm sure most people are the same.

So to bring this back to Pulp Fiction; if I don't care about his placement of minorities and how he treats them in his new film then I'm not going to reel back 20 years to treat his placement of minorities differently then.
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: wuatenigenu1 on January 26, 2016, 05:45:14 AM
I think it's funny, the "rape dungeon" scene is cringeworthy too me though.
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: Totoro on January 26, 2016, 05:36:46 PM

And the color of Marvin's skin has nothing to do with these events. It's not any sort of comment on race. It's the wild part of the Bonnie Situation story.


Why do you get (or Verbals) get to say this?

I don't want to distract from my main point of the thread and focus primarily on race, but why does the race not matter? None of Tarantino's films take place in a post-racial world. Pulp Fiction is FULL of conversations on race and even displays acts of blatant racism. So why does this get a free pass?
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: Monty on January 26, 2016, 06:06:25 PM
I was actually thinking about this awhile ago. Most stupid death scenes in a movie...and I had the following

Marvin (Pulp Fiction)
White Boy Bob (Out Of Sight) - Clooney's look! ;D
Samuel L. Jackson & Dwayne Johnson (The Other Guys)

They are the ones that instantly came to mind. I sure there's a Coen or two that should be in the list?
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: JakeIsntFake on January 26, 2016, 06:21:55 PM
For one thing, Totoro, Jules is African-American. The scene would be considerably different if Vincent and Jules were both white.
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: Junior on January 26, 2016, 07:02:36 PM
I think 1SO and verbals have roughly the same right as you to say whether or not the scene has a racial element, Totoro. As for my own opinion - which again, same as everybody else - is that the murder scene itself doesn't have a racial tinge, though the Tarantino-starring scene afterwards certainly does, and it's an uncomfortable element at that. It is one of the reasons why I don't love Pulp Fiction like I do some of his other movies.
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: 1SO on January 26, 2016, 07:05:49 PM

And the color of Marvin's skin has nothing to do with these events. It's not any sort of comment on race. It's the wild part of the Bonnie Situation story.


Why do you get (or Verbals) get to say this?

I don't want to distract from my main point of the thread and focus primarily on race, but why does the race not matter? None of Tarantino's films take place in a post-racial world. Pulp Fiction is FULL of conversations on race and even displays acts of blatant racism. So why does this get a free pass?

Why do I get to say this? Such strange phrasing. I'm saying if Marvin was played by a white guy or an Asian it wouldn't change the tone of the scene at all. If Jonah Hill played Marvin, my reaction would be exactly the same. I wouldn't for a moment think that Tarantino was making this about overweight people. It's about getting the pie in the face, not whose face gets the pie.

My one racial problem with the film is that Tarantino's character flings about the 'N' word in front of Jules and Jules doesn't say a thing about it. I know at the time Tarantino said he was trying to take the power away from the word, but it appears that he's changed his position since he now uses it liberally to make the viewer uncomfortable.
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: Teproc on January 26, 2016, 08:12:17 PM
Tarantino's character (Jimmy) is a dick. Jules does react to it IIRC, though subtly : he's clearly annoyed by Jimmy, but holds it in because he knows it's a... well, sticky situation, and he's a professional, unlike Vincent.

Marvin's race never seemed particularly relevant to the scene to me either, but what do I know.
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: Totoro on January 26, 2016, 11:55:05 PM
I think it's odd that someone can so easily say,

Quote
And the color of Marvin's skin has nothing to do with these events.

Then why was a black man chosen?
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: Junior on January 26, 2016, 11:59:50 PM
Because he's a good actor? Because he's friends with QT? Because he read well in the audition? Because QT wanted to make questionable jokes (in a later scene)?
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: 1SO on January 27, 2016, 01:15:29 AM
There are a number of reasons, but you're like a dog with a bone insisting that your take is the only one possible, even though it's an angle that goes against the tone of the sequence. You're dead set that Tarantino cast a black man as Marvin because he's a racist and thought we would all get a huge laugh watching this black man get gunned down by John Travolta. And we did, which only shows how horrible we all are as people.

Why did Ozu insist on casting Japanese actors in his films? Certainly the domestic situations he presented were universal. Why keep such a limited focus? Clearly Ozu only liked to work with Japanese people because he hated all other races and believed only the Japanese understand family dynamics and traditions.
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: verbALs on January 27, 2016, 02:46:36 AM
I'm interested for Totoro to expand on the phrase "post racial world" if he cares to. I wonder what that world would look like. Also if he could clarify whether he feels the post racial world already exists, if only in some parts of the world or whether it is still a concept.

Since race, culture and history are so inextricably linked how would a post racial world observe the fascinations of culture without reference to the race involved. As an example, the roots of blues music in slavery. Hopefully the post racial still allows that conversation because to do otherwise would depower that particular art. Would a black man have to ignore his own history in a post racial world? In a post gender world would a writer be derided for insisting on writing about the female condition; spoiling the harmony?

I had an unanswered question wondering just how delicate people want to get on this subject. It appears some want to be very delicate. I think we want a post discrimination world. That would seem the real aim. Tarantino wants to explore aspects of racism in his films. It's art. It's boring art because he has said it so often by now. Pulp Fiction was the first time he was saying it substantively so there is some power in there. He hasn't really said much more since then on the subject. Just the same thing. It was provoking initially and that is a vital component of art. It wasn't common to hear it back then in film. If you listened to rap it was old hat by the time Pulp Fiction came round. Spike Lee is infinitely more interesting on this subject than Tarantino in his films. It doesn't matter at all whether I find Tarantino boring now but I'm beginning to see how valuable he is if his films provoke the argument and highlight the delicacy that is being brought to the argument.
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: Dave the Necrobumper on January 27, 2016, 03:37:54 AM
I think it's odd that someone can so easily say,

Quote
And the color of Marvin's skin has nothing to do with these events.

Then why was a black man chosen?


Stupid white guy kills defenceless black guy.
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: Dave the Necrobumper on January 27, 2016, 03:50:55 AM
Actual Totoro, you asked why was he black, based on all the events around the character, what race should he have been and why?
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: Totoro on January 27, 2016, 04:57:31 AM
There are a number of reasons, but you're like a dog with a bone insisting that your take is the only one possible, even though it's an angle that goes against the tone of the sequence. You're dead set that Tarantino cast a black man as Marvin because he's a racist and thought we would all get a huge laugh watching this black man get gunned down by John Travolta. And we did, which only shows how horrible we all are as people.

Why did Ozu insist on casting Japanese actors in his films? Certainly the domestic situations he presented were universal. Why keep such a limited focus? Clearly Ozu only liked to work with Japanese people because he hated all other races and believed only the Japanese understand family dynamics and traditions.

This is the single meanest post you've ever posted towards me. :(

I don't want to say Tarantino is anything. I'm simply asking why. And you're telling me to stop asking the question.
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: 1SO on January 27, 2016, 08:52:58 AM
You're not "simply asking why". You've already answered the question for yourself and are asking why we don't see the racism. I'm saying there was no racial agenda.

And this will be my last post in this thread since you feel the debate has turned into a personal attack.
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: colonel_mexico on January 27, 2016, 09:27:38 AM
If you listened to rap it was old hat by the time Pulp Fiction came round.

LOL, hardly.  Wu-Tangs 36 Chambers the year before, Bigs Ready to Die same year, and Tupac's All Eyez on Me 96.  Old hat, you must be joking.
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: Totoro on January 27, 2016, 07:26:24 PM
You're not "simply asking why". You've already answered the question for yourself and are asking why we don't see the racism. I'm saying there was no racial agenda.

And this will be my last post in this thread since you feel the debate has turned into a personal attack.

Yeah, it's yet another failure of discourse here since you specifically brought up Ozu, a director I have a personalized history with, instead of a different director that I don't. You could've chosen an objective director to make an example with in order to make your point.

It's not that I feel it's a personal attack. It's that it's a personal attack. 
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: verbALs on January 28, 2016, 03:06:11 AM
I'm interested in the consequences of the delicate response to minority performances. Let's take it as a given that you are perfectly right in the sensitivity of your reaction to how this man's race is being employed. If one feels this way, it seems reasonable to expect others to feel the same way, and that extends to people within the film-making industry. They treat the casting of minorities into roles with this sensitivity; analysing the effect it will have on a post racial world (PRW) (I'd prefer post discrimination world but I'll use your phrase, even though I asked for some expansion on the phrase so that I really knew what you meant by it- can't expect an answer though, I know). The bigger the role is the more delicate the situation becomes. Tarantino uses it the opposite way; the more delicate the situation it might create, the more likely he is to bludgeon the discriminatory point, as if he thinks desensitisation might be the route to take.

So the creators who are sensitive might be less confident with a black lead; knowing a white lead won't present the same delicate connotations to the PRW. The people at the controls of awards might be as sensitive as you are. In fact because they operate an organisation, which by definition has a political aspect, they might be ultra-sensitive. They will certainly analyse a minority performance differently, being sensitive people. They can't possibly analyse it equally with a white performance. They also have to be concerned about the reaction of their decisions out in the PRW press. How could they not be? Being delicate themselves. Also being political, they may not, naturally, court controversy. A white performance becomes, by definition, non-controversial, certainly by comparison to a minority one. And we have a very white looking Oscars as a consequence.

It doesn't look anymore complicated than decisions and actions have consequences. I think it is a personal decision how sensitive one wants to be about any of this, but I think the consequences seem quite clear.
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: DarkeningHumour on February 18, 2016, 11:28:10 PM
Marvin's death is not racial in any way. This had never crossed my mind until you mentioned it.

Why did Ozu insist on casting Japanese actors in his films? Certainly the domestic situations he presented were universal. Why keep such a limited focus? Clearly Ozu only liked to work with Japanese people because he hated all other races and believed only the Japanese understand family dynamics and traditions.

 ;D
Title: Re: Anyone else find the Marvin story in Pulp Fiction unfunny?
Post by: DarkeningHumour on February 18, 2016, 11:32:01 PM
It doesn't look anymore complicated than decisions and actions have consequences. I think it is a personal decision how sensitive one wants to be about any of this, but I think the consequences seem quite clear.

I'm thankful for this point because I feel people don't realize that they do not help the situation by focusing on race all the time.