2008 Abstracts Stage 3

How Can we Account for Organised Crime in Western Society?

Adam Newton, 2008, Stage 3

Territory – Pulp Fiction. Object – Jules Winnfield. 1994 Quentin Tarantino cult classic set in the glamorized gang culture of the Los Angeles underworld. Hitman Jules works alongside Vincent Vega for mob boss Marsellus Wallace. The film portrays Jules’ lifestyle as a double existence in which his brutal career disposing of those who have fallen out of favour with Mr. Wallace is contrasted by his integration into legitimate society. Aims. To uncover the drives and mentality behind Jules’ lifestyle I focussed the project around two main questions; • Why does Jules live this lifestyle of crime outside of the sphere of legitimate society? • Is he at any point truly disenchanted with the constraints of capitalist society? Philosophical Ideas I used Marx’s work to develop a foundation for a critique of modern western society. This theory displays the weaknesses and problems of a consumer-driven market that is based on profit and hierarchal discrimination of classes. The systematic manipulation of the consumer market by the predominant corporative sphere in contemporary society is then analysed using Adorno’s theory of the culture industry. This provides me with perspective for the use of the theme of Americana which is so prominent throughout the film. I then used Beck’s theory of individualization to examine Jules’ character and uncover how and why he has assumed his double role within society. Conclusions. The penetration of the American culture fits with Adorno’s notion of a culture industry; it demonstrates how invasive the extreme exposure of specified and manipulated creativity can be in the lives of the average person. Jules immerses himself in this element of western life while maintaining his role as a hitman, displaying the autonomy he exercises to work both within and outside of this framework of legitimate society. His existence within gang culture in its totality reflects the two-faced nature of capitalism; we see a prosperous exterior that hides the brutal capabilities of a paranoid core.

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