"Pulp Fiction Trailer":
Pulp Fiction is not just a movie I love because of it's unbelievable story and acting, but the star-filled, and successful, movie is also a crusher of the idea of the "Representative Test". This test, if you will, is a checklist used to see how "culturally aware" a movie is. I'm sure the movies that make a C or below are hated upon by the probably left-winged extremists, but should they be? Pulp Fiction, is, by no means, a movie focusing on trying to be filled with all types of people, nor is it a film focusing on straying away from stereotypes, yet it does feature a very diverse cast. Director and screenplay writer Quentin Tarantino is actually the type of writer who embraces the stereotypes of certain people or groups. The movie is full of mostly white and male characters, yet it is still able to be argued that the movie can score a B (nine points) on the Representative Test. Pulp Fiction finds the flaws that lay inside the core of the Representative Test, presenting the system as broken.
Now that I have your attention, let's relax and go over this systematically and objectively. According to Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz's Everything's an Argument vol. 5, "In analyzing most arguments, you'll have to decide wether an argument makes a plausible claim and offers good reasons for you to believe it". The Representative Test claims it is a, "media literacy tool meant to spark learning and conversation around representation in film, and to encourage more overall diversity on screen and behind-the-scenes in Hollywood". This is all wonderful, and an honestly "good" intention, but there are two questions that bug me. Does this test really matter? Does the general public really care? Pulp Fiction is not exactly the kind of movie that has a single "protagonist". The movie follows the stories of four separate pairs of people who all cross paths in the end. It follows Vincent (a white man, gangster) and Jules (a black man, gangster), Butch (a white man, boxer) and Fabienne (a french woman, Butch's wife), Ringo (a white man, crook) and Yolanda (a white woman, crook), and Marcellus (a black man, ringleader) and Mia (a white woman, Marcellus' wife). The movie, which is roughly two-and-a-half hours long, gives dedicated time to each of these characters, thus leading to no single "protagonist". On top of this, each of the characters are extremely flawed and are not necessarily "good" people. All of these characters cross paths at different points, creating a very elaborate and detailed story.
The problem I have with the Representative test is that it seems to heavily imply that most movies are full of stereotypes, mainly against all woman. It asks a plethora of questions involving female leads, with male questions pertaining to violence and stereotypes. When it comes to Race, Ethnicity, and Culture, it only has one question! This is followed by just two questions about LGBT and Disabled People. How many questions are there are about Women? Seven! Moving onto Pulp Fiction, I will explain all of my checked off answers.
- Is the protagonist a woman? - Well, technically, one of the main characters is a woman, Mia, but there are also many other important female characters in the film.
- Does the film represent women as more than "objects for the male gaze"? - Most of the female characters are married and the only part that is really about sex, involves male-to-male.
- Does the film include women speaking roles with diverse types? - There is a particular scene where Butch hits Marcellus with his car and crashes. Marcellus awakens to a bunch of different women asking if he's okay. The same happens for Butch. This lasts less than a minute, but some of the women are of different body sizes. That should count, right?
- Does the film pass the Bechdel Test? - There is a scene where two rather insignificant characters, Jody and Trudi, discuss body piercings. They are both female. This means it counts.
- Does the film avoid perpetuating an extreme and unhealthy body ideal for men? - With it's multitude of characters, and with the story at hand, the body types of the men in the movie never seem to matter. Most of the action is done with guns and words, not fists.
- Does the film include one or more men of color, in speaking roles, who are NOT reduced to racial stereotypes? - The two main black characters, Jules are Marcellus, are both gangsters. However, Vincent, a white man, is also a gangster. Ringo, another white man, plays a crook and robber. This erases the "black people would be gangsters" stereotypes because white people are involved in these activities as well.
- Does the film include men in non-stereotypical roles? - There is a scene where a white man, Jimmy (played by Quentin Tarantino actually), complains about Jules and Vincent visiting him because his wife will be back from work soon. This implies that he is a stay-at-home husband, which is against the norm.
- Does the film include one or more LGBT characters who are NOT reduced to stereotypes? - There is a scene, one fourth hilarious and the rest awkward, where two homosexual men, ahem - excuse me here, rape Marcellus and keep Butch hostage. This is definitely against the stereotypes of gay men.
As we can see, it is rather easy to manipulate this system to work. Personally, I find it very important that men, women, all ethnicities, people of the LGBT community, and disabled people, all deserve equal and complete respect in the real world. However, when it comes to movies, it needs to be realized that movies are stories created for entertainment. While people like me love to see deep movies with intriguing characters (like Pulp Fiction), it is important to understand that the majority of people enjoy rather simple movies with simple characters.
According to Everything's an Argument vol. 5, "We don't need to be reminded that visual images have clout". The poster for Pulp Fiction features Mia laying on a bed smoking a cigarette. People who do not know the movie could easily say, "Oh wow. This movie has a female as a lead". While this is true in some sense, as we discussed, there are multiple leads in this film. Overall, what I am saying is that the Representative Test is not the best way to go about getting Hollywood to be more active in recruiting more diverse actors and stories. The stories and characters of Hollywood are all written to be played by certain roles. There are movies that have all white people and there are movies that have all black people. Every single movie has it's own group of people who enjoy them. Pulp Fiction, while scoring a high B with nine points, is also a movie with loads of violence, racism, bad language, and more. However, there are interracial couples, characters of different ethnicities, and leads of both men and women. Pulp Fiction is a solid representation of the lack of understanding the importance of story in the Representative Test. For these reasons, it deserves three director cuts, and a A+ in creating an elaborate and intriguing story.