Cool Men and the Second Sex (2003, New York:Columbia University Press)
By Susan Fraiman
I have argued that Tarantino’s method of administering repeated adrenaline shots may, like the Fort!/Da! game, address certain male needs. Yet the rush of feeling the shots produce also goes against the grain of manliness; culturally speaking, jolted nerves, along with penetrable cavities and dripping orifices belong to women. And although (or because) this film primarily addresses sensation-seeking men, it pays homage to the cultural norm through the scene that inspired my trope, in which the body jump-started by adrenaline is not actually male but female. Meanwhile, the masculine counterpart to this oozing, punctured feminine is represented by the much-discussed briefcase that Jules and Vincent kill for. My own answer to the cult question, “What’s inside the briefcase?” is interiority – that is, defended, mystified, male interiority. Much valued, much vaunted, and never finally shown, this radiant, indefinable softness is lost within a hard, exterior shell. Even Jules, who wants to lose the baggage of a barricaded self, walks out of the movie clutching it still.