Kill Bill: Quentin Tarantino’s Orientalist Classic

Beatrix Kiddo battles O-Ren Ishii’s Crazy 88 in Kill Bill Vol. 1.

Quentin Tarantino’s two part classic Kill Bill will go down as one of the greatest action films of the past 20 years and one of the critically-acclaimed director’s greatest films in terms of visual and auditory effects.

However, Kill Bill is one of the best examples of orientalism, which defines western society’s historically patronizing representation of “The East”: Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East.

The first volume of Kill Bill shows the film’s protagonist, Beatrix Kiddo, travel to Japan, where she immediately goes to purchase a samurai sword from “former Kung-Fu star” Hatori Hanso. After a scene which shows Kiddo fetishize over a wall lined with beautiful samurai swords, she purchases a sword and then she is on her way to kill Bill and the others who stand in her path, the first being Japanese native O-Ren Ishii.

Kiddo then finds O-Ren and battles all 88 of her henchmen, killing each one, and then eventually killing O-Ren and her two “bodyguards.”

By the end of Kill Bill Vol. 1, over 90 people had been killed by Kiddo, a white woman; because what else is there to do in Japan other then killing people with a samurai sword?

Not once throughout the movie are we, the audience, introduced to a Japanese native not associated with death or violence. This connotes that Japanese people are violent and have no true meaning to life other than killing others to stay alive.

Music Poetry: Neil Young’s Don’t Let it Bring You Down

I’ve been trying hard to find song which resonates what we’re all experiencing with this pandemic and I felt that Neil Young’s “Don’t Let it Bring You Down” off of his After The Gold Rush album fits my current mindset perfectly.

The title of the album itself is one which portrays my generation’s feelings toward the pandemic. Without any real wars or other mass pandemics like this one, my generation has gotten pretty easy up until this point. However, we, for the most part, have been so safe and healthy that we hadn’t even realized how good we’ve had it.

For the rest of our lives we will be living in the time after the gold rush. Coronavirus should be a huge wake up call to anyone, myself included, who has lived without any real worries and expected life to be handed to them.

In “Don’t Let it Bring You Down,” Young speaks of staying positive through hardship, which is exactly what we all most do, among other things, to get through this pandemic quickly and safely.

Old man lying
By the side of the road
With the lorries rolling by
Blue moon sinking
From the weight of the load
And the buildings scrape the sky

Cold wind ripping
Down the alley at dawn
And the morning paper flies
Dead man lying
By the side of the road
With the daylight in his eyes

Don’t let it bring you down
It’s only castles burning
Find someone who’s turning
And you will come around

We’re all old men on the side of the road and it seems as if the world is sinking from the weight of our worries. However, this is only castles burning and it will pass. So find someone with a positive mindset and follow them and eventually we will get through this and be happy.

Local Man Shocked To Find His Vote Only Vote To Count

November 4, 2020

“I don’t believe it!” cried 45-year-old Oak Parker George Shure when he was informed by local government officials that he was the only one to vote in Tuesday’s general election in the entire state of Illinois.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” said Shure. “I’ve heard people say that a vote in Illinois doesn’t really count because of how consistently blue the state is, but I never thought it would come to this.”

After a 2016 general election which had roughly 43% of eligible voters not bother filling out a ballot, Illinois’ 2020 general election marks a new low in voter turnout, with Shure as the lone voter.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot among all other Illinois residents not to cast a vote Tuesday.

“I’ve had a lot of work on my hands recently and didn’t really love either of the candidates, so I decided to sit this one out,” said Pritzker. 

“I, as all other Illinois residents, believed this election was surely going to be a win for the Democratic candidate,” said Lightfoot.

Oddly enough, Shure didn’t even vote for one of the eligible candidates, having written in Bears linebacker Khalil Mack. “I thought it would be something I could joke with my friends about,” said Shure. “Turns out none of them even voted.”

A Perfect Miracle

The cover of Spiritualized’s 2018 album And Nothing Hurt.

When Jason Pierce left Spaceman 3 in 1991 he had bigger and more ambitious plans with his musical career.

In his last album with the Spaceman 3, Recurring, Pierce showed some poetic ability but it was not until he began his solo project, Spiritualized, that Pierce truly achieved poetic justice.

While Spiritualized is mainly known for their orchestric, psychedelic melodies, something Pierce took with him from Spaceman 3, the lyrics get substantially more sophisticated each album.

If you’ve listened to any of Pierce’s works you would know that his main theme is love. This is the case in Spiritualized’s first album, Lazer Guided Melodies, and in their eighth and most recent album And Nothing Hurt.

However, over time, Pierce takes love and makes it something more.

This is a verse from ‘Angel Sigh,’ a song on Spiritualized’s first album:

Girl it’s like an angels’ sigh

When I see you walkin’ by

Girl y’know the reason why

Girl y’know the reason why

While Pierce does incorporate an a-b-a-a rhyme scheme and even adds simile into his verse, the reader/listener knows exactly what he is talking about as it stated clearly. A good poet makes a reader think.

On ‘A Perfect Miracle,’ the first song of his 2018 masterpiece And Nothing Hurt shares the same theme as ‘Angel Sigh,’ love, but the lyrics are much more sophisticated and reading or hearing them may transport you to the world Pierce is imagining.

See the difference:

I’d like to sit around and dream you up a perfect miracle

Then take the clouds and have the sun proudly shining on you

Take the stars as well and line them up to spell “Darling, I love you”

And little by little watch it all come true

These lyrics invoke a warm and refreshing feeling. A feeling of hopefulness and loving. A feeling many novelists have tried so hard to transfer to their reader.

If a poem is a compressed novel, than ‘A Perfect Miracle’ is absolutely a poem because of its ability to capture Pierce’s mind and transfer it to the reader/listener who can then connect it to his or her’s own life.

Pierce’s poetic ability in And Nothing Hurt solidifies himself as one of the best songwriters in the world and sets the album apart from any other album of his career.

Every Breath You Take: Sting and Beloved

It’s been commonly inferred by the public that The Police’s 1983 smash hit ‘Every Breath You Take’ is about a man a stalking a woman, in this case the band’s front-man Sting and his recently divorced wife Frances Tomelty.

While Sting has even backed the claim that the song is about a mans’ obsession with a lost lover, it’s possible that when he finished reading the book Beloved by Toni Morrison, he wanted to write a song from the perspective of one of the book’s most important figures: Beloved.

Sethe, the novel’s protagonist, killed Beloved, her child, when she was a baby to save her from going into slavery. Since her death, Beloved has haunted her family’s house, throwing dogs and having temper tantrums.

However, one day Beloved comes back to life, showing up at the house, tired and confused. Although some initial confusion, Sethe, her other daughter Denver, and her boyfriend Paul D let Beloved stay at the house for as long as she would like.

Although it is not discovered until later in the book that Beloved is in fact Sethe’s late daughter, Beloved gives major hints when talking about Sethe to Denver and Paul D.

In one instance, Beloved tells Denver that Sethe ” is the one. She is the one I need. You can go but she is the one I have to have.”

Later telling Paul D that Sethe “don’t love me like I love her. I don’t love nobody but her.”

These quotes alone resemble the lyrics of ‘Every Breath You Take.’

“Every breath you take and every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you
Every single day and every word you say
Every game you play, every night you stay, I’ll be watching you.”

“Since you’ve gone I’ve been lost without a trace
I dream at night, I can only see your face
I look around but it’s you I can’t replace
I feel so cold and I long for your embrace
I keep crying, “Baby, baby, please”.”

After her death Beloved shows her love by haunting Sethe and her family, watching every move they make and every breath they take.

When Beloved comes to life she is obsessed with Sethe and says she can love nothing else.

While it’s still likely that the song is about Sting’s dangerous stalking habit, there is still a chance that he had just finished reading Beloved and wanted to write a song about 124’s ghost, Beloved.

Saeed and Nadia prove that opposites do attract

In Moshin Hamid’s novel ‘Exit West,’ the two main characters, Saeed and Nadia, share a romantic relationship for most of the story. However, the two are almost polar opposites from each other, backing the theory that opposites do attract in a relationship.

The main difference between Saeed and Nadia is their opposite views on the meanings of life. While Saeed is revealed to be a man of great morality, he is much more conforming to the traditions of his family, culture, and religion. Nadia on the other hand is not, as she holds existentialist commonalities. As an ultra-religious man, Saeed refuses to have sex with Nadia before marriage, although she persists frequently. Throughout the book, it is discovered that Saeed feels very strongly about his parents, constantly praying for them. However, Nadia left her parents and does not mention them much.

Although, Saeed and Nadia’s relationship eventually came to a close at the end of the novel, they still remained friendly. This goes to show that opposites do attract, as different lifestyles can be appealing and interesting.

The Dark Side of the Moon: The Greatest Existential Album of All Time

Pink Floyd’s 1973 album, “The Dark Side of the Moon.”

“Breathe, breathe in the air. Don’t be afraid to care. Leave, but don’t leave me. Look around and choose your own ground. For long you live and high you fly, and smiles you’ll give and tears you’ll cry, and all you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be.” These are the first stanzas of ‘Breathe (In the Air),’ the first song on Pink Floyd’s existential masterpiece, “The Dark Side of the Moon.”

A concept album is any album, particularly a rock album, featuring a cycle of songs expressing a theme or idea. “The Dark Side of the Moon,” often cited as one of the most important concept albums ever released, highlights the pressures of society which can ultimately drive someone mad.

While natural actions such as living and dying or simply breathing can have an effect on someones life, socially constructed “values” such as time and money are often falsely idolized and lack of these “values” can lead to even more pain and suffering.

In ‘Time,’ Pink Floyd provides a full explanation of what time is and the effects it can have on ordinary people. Like Meursault in Albert Camus’s “The Stranger,” sometimes people try to kill time whether out of boredom, depression, or hysteria. However, time moves in a way that it seems to get faster every day. So by killing time, Pink Floyd argues, you are essentially only killing yourself.

“Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time. Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines. Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way. The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say.”

Although completely instrumental, ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ is an exact compilation of a lifetime. Starting softly and slowly, a piano begins to play and eventually a woman joins with an unforgettable shrieking. The shrieking and piano playing start to ramp up, getting louder, representing hope in young life. Eventually the shrieking and piano slow down again, but more and more overtime, reflecting adulthood and eventually old age. With 12 seconds left in the song, the music completely stops. Death.

While arguably the most popular song on the album, ‘Money’ analyzes the greatest false idol to man, one which can either leave you in a strong state of power or leave you rotting in a back alley somewhere, money. Songwriter Roger Waters writes that people believe money can lead to happiness, maybe by buying a new car, a Lear jet, or a football team. Though he quickly refutes that assumption calling money a gas, a crime, and the root of all evil today.

Those who have money are seen as selfish and those who don’t are seen as greedy. People will do anything to acquire more money if they are in need and if unsuccessful, one’s life could be ruined, making one feel like a failure. And eventually, as Pink Floyd argues, that failure can turn into madness.

In ‘Brain Damage’ Pink Floyd illustrates the total downfall of man. After running out of time, money, and breathe, one is driven insane, shortly leading to them to the after life, or as Pink Floyd puts it, the dark side of the moon.

The Theme of Life/Liberation

As human beings, we are construed to the concept of life and death. Life happens and death is. While on the surface these two concepts may seem like mirror opposites, life and death can be placed into the same category of liberation.

In “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, an old man with wings is found face down in the sand. He is then taken in by his finder, Payola, and his wife, Elisenda.

During his stay with Payola and Elisenda, no one else seems to take notice of him. He is described as a “stray dying man” (359) and never seems to fit in with the people in Marquez’s fictional world. That is until he flies away.

For the old man, flying away is a form of liberation from the unrecognizable world he had been living in. He was not himself in this world and was virtually no one to the people who lived there. He was a nuisance who would be truly free until his wings would work again.

Another story which shows the power of life is “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner.

“Barn Burning” is the story of Abner Snoppes, man who burns barns as a means of payback, and his family as they go through trial, a move, and a death.

Throughout the story, Snoppes is seen as abusive toward his son, Sarty. Snoppes has strange ideologies of what the father-son relationship is meant to be and that rubs of oddly on Sarty, confusing him as to whether his father to someone to look up to or someone to run away from.

After his father’s death, Sarty decides to run away. “He went on down the hill, toward the dark woods within which the liquid silver voices of the birds called unceasing–the rapid and urgent beating of the urgent and quiring heart of the late spring night. He did not look back” (158), writes Faulkner.

Sarty’s act of running away is liberating for him after all those years of his father’s nonsense.