Requiem For A Film: The case for "Kill Bill", a true guilty pleasure
Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill is my guilty pleasure film. No, it is not mean girls or clueless or stepbrothers. It is Kill Bill. Although the sequel, in my personal opinion, is still a beautifully twisted film, it is the original that will truly always resonate in my brain. The characters, the plot, the excellent Sally Menke editing that is as iconic to Tarantino films as his love for feet or Samuel L Jackson. Doesn’t it just make you want to find a car and name it the pussy wagon? Guilty pleasures are usually brought out for when you’re basically feeling shitty. You might have the flu, or a broken leg, or something more internal like a broken heart from that piece of shit who decided you’re not good enough. It is something that we seek in order to simply make us feel better; a pleasant distraction. Anything can be a guilty pleasure. For me, it is cinema. I relish and squeal in pure joy when I come across a film so engulfing in its magic that whatever the world has done to make you feel not-so-great, doesn’t feel half as bad anymore. Similar to the infamous Pulp Fiction scene in which Mia Wallace is brought back to life by Vincent Vega’s dodgy-looking adrenaline shot to the heart, Kill Bill is my go-to resurgence.
Put simply, our protagonist, Beatrix Kiddo, is seeking to avenge for the wrong that has been done to her. Although I am not a lethal martial arts master like miss Kiddo, I too in my moments of sadness and general disappointment towards the world, seek some sort of revenge. Some sort of comeuppance for the person or situation that has caused my stress. Now, I may not be able to deliver a five finger death punch, nor will I ever be inclined or able to brutally murder a gang of 88 strong ninjas, but Beatrix can. Through this fictional world Tarantino has created, I, a woman of all 5 foot and a rather timid persona, can seek and establish my satisfying revenge. By living vicariously through Kiddo and the other badass characters we meet along the way (O-Ren’s beheading of the sleazy businessman anyone?), I can be at peace with my suffering. And for me, that is what a guilty pleasure is all about. Not some cheesy film that deals with high school cliques and teen romance. But a completely bad-ass film that cannot be in any way relatable, but rather an escape from the very real situations and issues that are happening back home on planet earth.
For example, a particular scene that makes your bruised sub-conscious scream ‘hell yeah!’, is a scene close to the beginning of the film. Beatrix wakes to a man taking advantage of her comatose state. A typical reaction may be to scream or shout for help, but not for our ass-kicking and complete boss-bitch Kiddo. As she proceeds to bite the deserving man’s tongue off, our goal of revenge begins. It is very easy to use the man, or any antagonist, as a representation of whatever crappy thing is going on that has lead us to want to indulge in a guilty pleasure film. In seeing the man’s tongue be completely annihilated by Kiddo’s sheer rage, our own sheer rage is lifted. As I previously mentioned, we may not be inclined to actually kill anyone (unless prison is in your future), but Beatrix is, and through her, we can seek our revenge that we deserve. I might just be an unusually big fan of gore, but watching Beatrix then proceed to smash buck’s head against a heavy door beats any “typical guilty pleasure” romance scene.
Whilst writing this I thought about the term: Guilty Pleasure. What does that mean? Why do our brains instantly go towards something that we love but should be embarrassed about? I have realised I hate the word ‘guilty pleasure’. Especially the ‘guilty’ part. Okay maybe not hate in the way the bride hates Bill for the awful tragedy he causes her, but why should we feel guilty for something that might possibly make you feel better? Why do guilty pleasures instantly make us think of something that is bad, whether it has been critically bombed or it is just not in your usual personal interests? Why can’t a guilty pleasure be something of a high quality? Although just a personal opinion and many will argue with me on this (bring it on, bitch), I believe Kill Bill is one of Tarantino’s best works. Okay, so It may not feature an intricate plot like cult favourite Pulp Fiction or bring forward important issues forward like Django Unchained did, but what it did was bring a bad-ass female ninja who is going to guarantee you she will fuck shit up. The plot is relatively simple; a revenge tale with eccentric characters that are only highlighted by the sometimes over-the-top music that has become accustomed to any Quentin Tarantino film. But the Sally Menke editing is unparalleled, with Tarantino obviously realising this and visually enabling a stunning masterpiece to be created.
However, it is also the relatability that can be found within the characters that makes Kill Bill not only an excellent film but also an excellent guilty pleasure. First, I’m going to stop using the ‘guilty’ part and just leave it as a pleasure. It is a pleasure film you watch when you’re upset. That pizza you eat when you have cramps is a pleasure. That Nikki Webster CD you have in your car; a pleasure. Never feel guilty for something you like. Okay, moving on.
Hidden deep underneath the bravado and exaggeration of it all, Kill Bill is simply a heartbroken woman looking for both revenge and answers. Elle Driver is a woman in love who is jealous of the person who her man, Bill, is ultimately fondest of. Not only can you relate to these two characters in particular, but you can also identify with them in a sense. It might be a tiny speck of humanity that we see in them amongst all the brutal killings and fights, but it is there. With this, we can sympathise, and root even more for them to receive their goals. With Elle, we hope her other eye is torn out, with Kiddo, we hope she gains what she lost on her wedding day.
This absolute pleasure of a film will forever be one of my favourites. The slightly predictable plot coupled with the fantastic special effects and the brilliance that is the character of Beatrix Kiddo is one of the best distractions you could ever hope to have on a day when things aren’t so great. So let’s stop shaming ourselves for guilty pleasures, let’s just enjoy the beauty of what makes you happy. Next time you sit down to watch a film to cheer yourself up, don’t just go with the choice that you feel embarrassed by, or by the ‘cool’ film you think you should watch, choose something that empowers you, that inspires you to wake up tomorrow and believe that tomorrow will be a much better day with much better circumstances and people. You got this, this is your day, go kill those 88 ninjas. Or maybe not.