You’ve got to know what kind of great, if somewhat shrewd kid I have.
Gorgeous and a little bit too smart for his own good, he’s an only child and is always included in adult conversation. Because we’re total news junkies and pretty much debate politics non-stop, he knows when Tim Russert is pitching softballs and completely understands why I get aggravated when Imus jokes around with Rick Santorum.
We have never been what I would call strict with him regarding video games, music or movies. He loved the movies Twister and Jurassic Park when he was 4. He’s gone from The Backstreet Boys to rap to most recently, The Doors and Jimi Hendrix, which has opened up conversations about the 60’s and drugs.
“Mom, did you ever puff the magic dragon?” Yes, he loved Meet the Parents.
When he was 9 he begged me to watch Saving Private Ryan. So, on the evening of September 10, 2001 we watched it together. Thank God he fell asleep in the middle of the movie. He was way too little to experience the scene where the American is begging not to be stabbed. The next morning, as we were eating breakfast we talked about war and sacrifice and freedom. And how lucky we were.
That meaningful discussion turned out to be very important when later in the day we had to sit down and talk about why people would fly planes into buildings on purpose.
When Madonna kissed Brittney Spears a couple of years ago, I turned to him and asked him: “Why do you think she just did that?”
His answer, “because her career is in the toilet.”
So, yes, I’ve got a very cool kid.
And now he wants to plaster his bedroom walls with posters. So, for his 13th birthday, I let him go to allposters.com and put the ones he wanted into a shopping cart. When he was done, I looked through his choices and noticed that he had included one from Pulp Fiction.
A huge, black and white poster of the scene where John Travolta (Vincent) and Samuel L. Jackson (Jules) are stiff-armed, pointing their guns, 3/4 angle, shooting those boys, right after eating a Kahuna burger. (At least I think it’s that scene)
To my knowledge, he’s never seen the movie. He knows I don’t want him to see it yet, so if he watched it at a friend’s house, he’s never admitted it. The thought of him watching that movie flips me out. I don’t want him to know yet that there are people with lifestyles like Eric Stoltz and Rosanna Arquette. The rednecks in that pawnshop. That scene? Oh God, I don’t want to have to even get into that one at all. No. No. No.
I don’t want to explain that maybe there are people like “The Wolf.” (Are there I wonder?)
Although it would give me a great opportunity to say, “See? Quentin Tarantino is a great director, a great writer, but a terrible actor!”
But I understood the attraction to the poster.
It brought to mind the scene where Paul Newman and Robert Redford come running out of that building at the end of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid with guns blaring. I loved that movie. I also loved Bonnie and Clyde.
I’ve always loved the bad buys. I have a highly developed morbid side.
I said no to the poster. He said I was treating him like a baby. He pressed the issue.
I explained that it was just too violent. I didn’t want him thinking something so violent was so cool.
“But, I’ve seen the Matrix! You’ve let me watch The Sopranos!”
I did a “search” for Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. The poster popped up and I said he could get that one.
“I don’t want that one! They die in the end! It’s too sad. And anyway, that’s violent too. What’s the difference?”
“I don’t know. There just is.”
We moved on quickly to other things and I’ve thought often about what that difference is.
Each movie poster you’ve got two guys with guns. All bad guys, shooting at people. I know, a poster is just a flat piece of paper covered in ink, but it portrays an image and each one has a story behind it. You look at Vince and Jules and you see cold blooded killers. They’re likable, but you don’t really care that much. You look at Butch and Sundance and you see kindred spirits who never really wanted to hurt anybody. By the end of the movie, you’ve fallen in love.
It’s Scum Bag World vs. Dreamy Nostalgia Paul Newman Robert Redford Burt Bacharach Ya Gotta Love ‘em World
I find no romance at all in Pulp Fiction.
Although born of someone’s quirky imagination and each scene pushed to the limit, it’s too realistic.
Vince and Jules are hit men. Granted, smart hit men exchanging witty dialogue, but guys with a grisly job to do, that comes way too easily. When they kill that poor guy in the back seat, do they feel bad about him dying? Kind of, but not really. No, they’re worried about getting the car cleaned up. When Mia overdoses, Vince only wants to revive her to save his own behind.
Although I got a kick out of Vince and Jules, did I care when Butch killed Vince? No, it was more about the scene “set-up” than emotional investment. Vince in the bathroom, Butch sneeking back into his apartment to find the gun on the counter. The pop tarts popping up. Bang. He’s dead. On to next shocking scene.
Pulp Fiction was never really about any emotional connection as much as how creative they could get. The dialogue was great. The storylines were outrageous. The acting was phenomenal. It was a work of art. But it was also pathetic.
And besides, I’ve spent 13 years teaching my son that when they rely on cursing and sex in a movie or TV show, where it just seems out of place, the only reason they are doing it is because either the writers are too lazy or the people making the show are too focused on making money.
How then could I explain Pulp Fiction to my 13 year old? My head hurts just thinking about it. They say the “F” word more than 700 times and it’s right on the money each and every time. It was great writing.
Now onto Butch Cassidy and Sundance. This movie was nothing but romance. The romance of soulmates, kindred spirits who really just wanted some dough. Clever dialogue between buddies with magical chemistry. And the golden boys were so damned gorgeous. Romantically lit. Funny, smart and in the end they lose. The bad guys lose. Not a bad lesson for a 13 year old. Even if you are heartbroken when it happens.
Sundance: What's your idea this time?
Sundance: What's Bolivia?
Butch: Bolivia. That's a country, stupid! In Central or South America, one or the other.
Sundance: Why don't we just go to Mexico instead?
Butch: 'Cause all they got in Mexico is sweat and there's too much of that here. Look, if we'd been in business during the California Gold Rush, where would we have gone? California - right?
Butch: So when I say Bolivia, you just think California. You wouldn't believe what they're finding in the ground down there. They're just fallin' into it. Silver mines, gold mines, tin mines, payrolls so heavy we'd strain ourselves stealin' 'em.
Sundance: (chuckling) You just keep thinkin', Butch. That's what you're good at.
Butch: Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.
In the end my son did not get the Pulp Fiction poster. I can glamorize violence all I want, in my own way that to me is acceptable. Bottom line: I'd much rather him fall in love with Butch Cassidy and Sundance than the twisted ideas of Quentin Tarrantino. My choice. I'm the mom. Too bad. End of story. Because I said so.
He did get a poster that I really get a kick out of. It’s a photo of a skateboarder and underneath it says, “Because bones heal and chicks dig scars.”
I can just picture Sundance, with a twinkle in his eye, tipping his hat and winking at my son, saying, “you’ll get ‘em son, don’t worry, you’ll get ‘em.
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