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Sunday, April 08, 2007

I can think of a lot of different commercials that reference movies--like this one or this one--but I can't think of a lot that do it like this one:



"You don't give another man's girl a foot massage, and you definitely don't put her in your five."

It's fitting that a commercial borrowing a line from a popular movie would borrow one from Quentin Tarantino. One of Tarantino's trademarks is the way he pays homage to other genres, directors, and films by embedding characters, scenes, and lines from other movies into his own movies. Most of the time, viewers who don't have some knowledge of the movies he borrows from would have no idea they're not original.

The most obvious example is in Kill Bill, when The Bride fights the Crazy 88 in a yellow jumpsuit . . .



which is borrowed from the Bruce Lee movie Game of Death:



A lot of the more traditional critics are wary of this brand of postmodern art, some with good reasons and some with not-as-good reasons. Others condone it as a part of the artistic process. Jonathan Lethem, in a recent plagiarism in Harper's, explains that stealing is a part of art.

I agree almost completely with Lethem's plagiarism, but one thing about Tarantino-style borrowing interests me, and I've said it already here: Most people will never know anything was ever being borrowed in the first place. For example, that T-Mobile commercial with the Pulp Fiction line? AOL has a trivia game called Gold Rush that asks the question "Watch this video (the T-Mobile commercial) and figure out what popular 90's movie made breaking the first rule famous." Now read this message board in which someone asks for the movie title for the movie that includes a line about a guy giving someone a foot massage to a girlfriend and having her in their top five.

I'm not sure if this is a complaint about online culture, borrowing art, or just stupid people in general--but they're all connected, and they've all come up in various places in recent years.

Related:

-
The New Republic
discusses how web research and availability is killing rock snobs (if everything is available, nothing is obscure)
- For some reason it seems like we're all getting dumber
- Grad-student-style essay on Tarantino

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