“Kill Bill” as Parable

I have completely changed my paper topic.  Instead of looking at glamour, I am going to look at how certain stories shape our consciousness, “false” and otherwise.  In particular, I will use the “Kill Bill” movies as an example of present-day story that has taken hold on popular culture and public imagination.  This choice is also relevant as a type of cinematic indicator, since Tarantino uses so many references to other films and other styles/genres of filmmaking.

So far, much of my reading has been about the “trickster” figure in mythology.  For example, the protagonist of much Native American lore is a coyote or raven.  Hermes is also an example in Greek mythology.  “Tricksters” share characteristics such as an ability to wriggle their way out of traps, to exist on the edges, to adopt other animals’ ways of survival, to confound polarity (ie trick others into thinking down is up or visa-versa) and to deny their apetite in favor of some other goal.

I am interested in what this figure means about the cultures that tell stories about it.  Stories seem like powerful ways of reading a society because so many values are embedded in them.  This is particularly true for parables, or stories where “good” and “bad” are painted clearly.  The valuative aspect becomes all the more clear in children’s stories, which have a “good” protagonist and a “bad” antagonist who tempts the protagonist to break the rules.  Yet so often the protagonist is a transgressor, and almost always falls for the temptation. Thus it seems clear that the trickster figure still exists in our culture and, despite being a rule-breaker and a boundary-crosser, nevertheless has a great hold on popular imagination.

My argument is that Beatrix Kiddo, the protagonist of “Kill Bill,” is a type of protagonist similar to the trickster in that she can cross boundaries between regular society and the underworld.  Furthermore, a huge part of her character has to do with learning how to discipline herself (ie denying her momentary “apetite” or fatigue in favor of a future conquest).  The entire premise of the film is related to revenge and a search for justice, which is a justification for enormous brutality.  This brutality, in turn, is also culturally indicative.  The movies are told in chapters, which can be treated as distinct episodes dealing with archetypical characters.  The stories have to do with discipline, determination, the Wild West, and the struggle between master and student, to name a few.

My main question, then, is as follows: when analyzed as a sort of parable or legend, what can the themes and characters in the “Kill Bill” films tells us about our culture and consciousness?  How are these (culture and consciousness) related to our economic means of production?

This second question is obviously the link the Marxism, and will have to be expanded upon quite a bit.  There are two approaches to this question.  First of all, how do the figures and concerns raised in the film relate to consumerism, capitalism, and the ways in which Americans exist economically?  Second, how do the behind-the-scenes aspects of the film relate to consumerism, capitalism, etc.?  These questions may turn out to be circular.  In other words, I’m asking how the film’s subject reflects our economy.  I’m also asking how/why the economic realities of Hollywood made this film come about.

One response to ““Kill Bill” as Parable