Writing means sharing. It’s part of the human condition to want to share things – thoughts, ideas, opinions. – Paulo Coelho
Last year, I was given the unique opportunity to read my essay “Lisa and Lolita, Le Viol de deux” for John King’s The Drunken Odyssey, since working on that project with him we have remained in touch (shameless plug: my reading is included in Episode 107 after Boris Fishman’s; check it out!). After sharing my essay on “Natural Born Killers” with him and our subsequent intriguing discussion on the my essay, the film, its director and Quentin Tarantino he has kindly given his blessing to share his comments on my website. Enjoy!
“Lisa, The most interesting part of your essay is about the couples who re-enact the wedding scene in NBK. While I don’t think there is a generation of NBK, which suggests a generation defined by the movie, seeing why people did like it and identified with it or became obsessed with it does seem like a fascinating subject to explore, and I don’t have to like NBK to find that odd cultural quirk revelatory and exciting. FYI: I was one of those viewers who was told by people who had seen Natural Born Killers that I would love it, as I like the weird and disturbing, apparently, but I deeply hated the movie, for reasons similar to the Rolling Stone critic. I wasn’t able to read this in the spirit you were hoping for, since you seem to be diligently dignifying what seems like a truly bad piece of art to me. Your claims about the film’s longstanding relevance fell a little flat with me. Quentin Tarantino was so horrified by the cheesy liberties Oliver Stone had taken with his screenplay that Tarantino insisted that he NOT be credited as a screenwriter, so the credit reads something like “based on a script by” or “based on the ideas of.” The dramatic context in the way that QT presents violence is so compelling, yet unnerving that we don’t quite cheer for it. For me, the loving way Oliver Stone made violence look cool and slick, often like a rock video, made him totally complicit in the critique he thought he was making against American media. I did like the “I Love Malory” sequence rather a lot; the satire there was effective, the laugh track disturbing (a trick used earlier, if I am not mistaken, in the Jungle Goddess episode of Mystery Science Theater). Some of the parts of NBK were good I thought, but the few good parts were worth far more than the tiresome whole, in my opinion. I found the story so stupid, the satire so gigantically self-unaware, that I wasn’t asking any big questions at the end other than why, oh why, does Oliver Stone have a messianic ego and who keeps green-lighting his films? Don’t even get me started on Baz Luhrmann or Steven Spielberg. With me, OS hits a nerve, apparently. Sigh.
I adore Tarantino, who could do no wrong … until the last act of Django. Pulp Fiction is a masterpiece in so many ways. Not since Sam Peckinpah has someone shown us the violence we crave, and then make us feel uneasy with our cravings. The questioning of race and gender politics is also pretty wonderful. The way he takes the most basic pulp fiction plot tropes and makes them deviously interesting. Oliver Stone was a good writer (Midnight Express, Conan the Barbarian, Scarface) before he became a director, and then he became intolerable, to me at least. Here’s a link to an article I wrote on MST3K.”