Quentin Tarantino’s films are always controversial, and Pulp Fiction is no exception. The film depicts graphic violence and overt drug usage, while shying away from politically correct language. The film’s controversial topics such as racial stereotypes, has led some critics to hail the movie as racist; however, the movie denies many of these stereotypes, portraying character and character relationships as not exclusive to their stereotype. Furthermore, the movie mocks many of societies stereotypes, and it is not afraid to address, or not to address, uncomfortable racial topics. Thus, Pulp Fiction challenges racial barriers.
Jules Winnifield begins the movie as a criminal, a hit-man to be specific, but as the movie progresses he decides to move away from his life of crime in pursuit of righteousness. Jules’s character development challenges racial stereotypes because he is initially presented as a stereotype, but as the movie progresses he moves away from the cliché and becomes an individual. His character development thus shows the audience that African Americans are not confined to a few archetypes. African American males are frequently portrayed in media as heartless criminals, who do not think twice about their actions, and this is how Jules is portrayed the beginning of the story. However, after he makes it out of the morning visit alive, Jules decides to reevaluate his life, deciding to end his criminal activity and search for a more righteous life. This is a movement away from the stereotype and thus the breaking of our racial barriers. Further, Jules goes from merely reciting scripture to searching for the deeper meaning behind its versus, thus showing him moving away from stereotypical African American preachers and churchgoers shown on television towards becoming a free thinking individual. Jules’s movement away from the African American male stereotype is a prime example of a challenge to racial stereotypes because it displays what the current stereotype and then destroys that hackneyed idea. By featuring a character who shows that people are not confined to their particular racial archetype, Pulp Fiction helps us revaluate why we have these preconceived stereotypes, thus challenging our racial barriers.
Pulp Fiction displays many positive interracial friendships, which was severely lacking from films made during the 20th century. In the movie when Jules is in trouble and needs a place to go, he calls his friend Jimmie. Here we have an African American man who has a close friendship with a Caucasian man. Furthermore, we see the relationship between Jules and Vince, partners as hit-men for Marsellus Wallace, who also appear to be friends, as another positive example of interracial friendships. In all of these instances Pulp Fiction depicts these friendships as completely natural, whereas when other movies and television shows featured interracial friendships at the time they always seemed forced.
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