Saturday, May 26, 2007


I saw Grindhouse last night in the only theatre in Boston where it's still playing. I don't understand why it performed so poorly, I really enjoyed it. The first movie (it's a double feature), Planet Terror, is a very over-the-top, violent, and gross zombie movie, but it's entertaining if you're into that sort of thing, and it's an honest-to-goodness grindhouse film, which was, after all, the whole point.

But I want to write something about the second movie, Death Proof, directed by Tarantino. Unlike Planet Terror, it's not just a campy grindhouse homage, it's actually a terrific action movie in it's own right. And, I would like to argue, it has some surprisingly conservative themes and dialogue (in Tarantino's usual vulgar, wordy, and funny style). Before I get to the conservative message, which will require spoilers, I wanted to excerpt a pro-gun discussion from the movie. Lots of foul language, so be warned, proceed at your own risk. The context here is that one of the characters, Kim, explains to her friends why she always carries a concealed pistol (the transcript I'm using is from IMDB):

Lee: Did you know Kim carried a gun?
Abernathy: Yes. Do I approve? No. Do I know? Yes.
Kim: I don't know what futuristic utopia you live in, but in the world I live in, a bitch need a gun.
Abernathy: You can't get around the fact that people who carry guns, tend to get shot more than people who don't.
Kim: And you can't get around the fact that if I go down to the laundry room in my building at midnight enough times, I might get my ass raped! Lee: Don't do your laundry at midnight.
Kim: Fuck that! I wanna do my laundry whenever the fuck I want to do my laundry.
Abernathy: There are other things you can carry other than a gun. Pepper spray.
Kim: Uh, muthafucka tryin to rape me, I don't want to give him a skin rash. I wanna shut that nigga down!
Abernathy: How about a knife at least.
Kim: Yeah, you know what happens to muthafuckas who carry knives?They get shot!

(Spoilers ahead)
As for the overall theme, it's one of strong female empowerment. No, no, not that kind of empowerment - not spoken-word poetry or low-rise jeans or sleeping around or whatever the latest thing is that liberal women claim empowers them. No, I'm talking about real empowerment - women shooting a bad guy, chasing after him, scaring the daylights out of him, attacking him with a lead pipe, and finally punching and kicking the life out of him. The movie follows two sets of women, and the maniac who tries to kill them. The first set, who are portayed on a typical modern immoral girls' night out, drinking heavily, smoking pot, giving lapdances to strangers, etc., are easy prey for the killer. But then the movie moves on to a second group, not girls this time, but women - two strong and brave stuntwomen (one, as noted, packing heat) and another woman who doesn't let the men in her world use and abuse her (she explains, in another conservative moment, why she won't sleep with her boyfriend, but I couldn't find a transcript of it). The maniac sees these women as prey and tries to kill them, but soon regrets the decision, since these women are no victims - they soon turn the tables and begin hunting and terrorizing him. The movie ends as they take turns beating the hell out of him.

In short, the moral of the movie: don't let yourself be a victim, don't let men push you around; be strong, fight back, and don't forget your gun!

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