Essay on Gender Role and Tarantino

Submitted By redgraylax94
Words: 1990
Pages: 8

Gus Corwin
Prof. McGowan
Cmpl 251
April 21, 2015
The Quentin Tarantino’s Use of Derrida and Judith Butler to Reject Ideology

In Pulp Fiction (1994), Quentin Tarantino utilizes the ideas presented in Derrida’s “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of Human Sciences,” a lecture given in 1966, to lay the foundation of the film. Tarantino uses the idea of bricolage to both pull from and reject the ideas of previous filmmakers and the idea that the center cannot be set to design a non-linear narrative. The use of bricolage and the lack of a center create a cinematic universe in which all ideological systems can change fluidly. The fluid relationships reject a standard cultural identity, which serves the upper class, white, heterosexual male. Instead Tarantino’s diegesis expands and furthers Judith Butler’s ideas on gender associations presented in Gender Trouble. He broadens the ideas to include genre along with “gender” and pushes the idea of the performative further by creating a world in which gender identity can change fluidly depending on the individual’s current situation. The film opens with a couple sitting in a diner talking about their futures as armed robbers. In the scene, Tarantino pulls from Derrida’s beliefs on bricolage through his ironic use of the a trope associated with film noir in order to incite a state of freeplay through the creation of a non-linear narrative, which breaks the audience’s expectations. After he rejects classical narrative and genre form, he introduces the fluid gender roles through the couple’s interaction and the fluid genre through the creation of comedy during a serious moment. In his lecture, Derrida expresses a belief that there is no center to structure because through deconstruction one can see that an “event” or center is simply a “rupture and redoubling” of a previous exterior center (1). The center has taken on many names throughout the history, such as God, eidos, and telos, but the issue with the center is it based on the adapting of the ideas from the previous center (Derrida 2). He defines this borrowing through Claude Levi-Strauss’ idea of bricolage. Derrida defines bricolage as the use of the “‘means at hand” to create an “event” by adapting those antecedents (6). Derrida expresses the referential nature of the center through the destructive discourses of Nietzsche, Freud, and Heidegger. Derrida states when Heidegger was considering the ideas of Nietzsche and in turn rejecting them, he was also dragging “along with it the whole of metaphysics” (2-3). Heidegger created his ideology by borrowing some ideas from Nietzsche while rejecting others. The evolution of the center is not linear though because when Heidegger rejects Nietzsche, he comes to his own conclusions by drawing from different fields of study. The non-linear nature of knowledge discovery is the base of free-play because people determine their beliefs by drawing from a multitude of sources, which do not come into existence linearly. Tarantino confirms free-play in Pulp Fiction through the creation of film, which does not adhere to the previous generation’s standards but still uses them referentially and ironically. Starting at the structural base of film, Tarantino rejects the idea of “an event” as the base for a structure using the opening scene of Pulp Fiction. Classical Hollywood narratives start with an inciting incident, which cause a rupturing of the protagonist’s normal life. By opening with the robbery of a diner in medias res, Tarantino intentionally leads the audience to believe they are watching this exciting event. The presentation of an event, such as a robbery or murder, at the beginning of a film is the base of an open mystery, a technique common to film noir in which the directors reveals the perpetrator before the protagonist knows the event has even occurred. In reality, the opening scene occurs in parallel with other disconnected events. The events that occur at the opening and