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View Full Version : Please explain to me the Gimp in "Pulp Fiction"


mac_bolan00
10-11-2011, 10:50 PM
no such thing as a stupid question, right? is "gimp" a specific description or was it just a contrived character in the story? it was obviously an ensalved person but for what purpose? was it enslaved for sex or for some other purpose? is it mentally incapacitated by nature or rendered so? are there real-life cases?

thank you.

x-ray vision
10-11-2011, 10:53 PM
Like what the glowing thing in the case is, you're not supposed to know. It's meant to make the viewer think "WTF?"

Dignan
10-11-2011, 11:00 PM
According to this YouTube video of Norm MacDonald doing a Tarantino impression (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpZ8-ovfKc4), the character is kept in a trunk in the basement of some guy's house, and he is used for deviant, hardcore, gay sex.

TriPolar
10-11-2011, 11:02 PM
no such thing as a stupid question, right? is "gimp" a specific description or was it just a contrived character in the story? it was obviously an ensalved person but for what purpose? was it enslaved for sex or for some other purpose? is it mentally incapacitated by nature or rendered so? are there real-life cases?

thank you.

Well he would have liked being ensalved based on what they were probably doing with him.

There's probably additional info out there about this character, but I take him for what I see in the movie. A chained up and gagged guy. I assumed he was being kept for sexual purposes, although not necessarily involuntarily since he wasn't exactly helping when Bruce Willis was freeing himself. Mentally incapacitated? Kind of hard to tell with the way he was physically incapacitated.

Rigamarole
10-11-2011, 11:13 PM
Oh, it's definitely a thing. I dare you to Google it. Just make sure Safe Search is on.

Sage Rat
10-11-2011, 11:27 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimp_(sadomasochism)

mac_bolan00
10-12-2011, 03:12 AM
more replies than i expected. thanks guys!

njtt
10-12-2011, 09:38 AM
Sage Rat's link implies that the word's use in connection with sexual bondage and S&M originates with Pulp Fiction. Previously, gimp seems to have meant a physically handicapped person (http://www.onelook.com/?w=gimp&ls=b&sourceid=Mozilla-search) (at least, that seems to be the old meaning that is the most likely to be relevant). I suppose being in bondage bears some analogy to being physically handicapped, or perhaps it is a reference to actual physically handicapped people being sexually exploited by able-bodied sadists. I don't know whether Tarantino just made up the newer meaning, or if he was just popularizing a usage that was already extant in the S&M 'community'.

Rhythmdvl
10-12-2011, 09:55 AM
The Gimp is Keyser Söze.

Bryan Ekers
10-12-2011, 10:10 AM
And he's sleepin'.

kayaker
10-12-2011, 11:04 AM
The Gimp is Keyser Söze.

I'm not going to say this again. THERE IS NO KEYSER SOZE!!!


and i don't know how to do an umlaut.:(

Rigamarole
10-12-2011, 11:12 AM
Sage Rat's link implies that the word's use in connection with sexual bondage and S&M originates with Pulp Fiction.

The article also mentions a movie from 1992 (predating Pulp Fiction) where that type of suit appeared. So the question is whether it was called the same thing before.

Rhythmdvl
10-12-2011, 12:11 PM
I'm not going to say this again. THERE IS NO KEYSER SOZE!!!


and i don't know how to do an umlaut.:(

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled...


...was signing up on the SDMB as No umlaut for U (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/member.php?u=110560)

brewha
10-12-2011, 12:24 PM
I'm not going to say this again. THERE IS NO KEYSER SOZE!!!


and i don't know how to do an umlaut.:(

It's easy.

1. Highlight the letter with the umlaut
2. Ctrl C
3. Ctrl V
4. Pröfit!

brewha
10-12-2011, 12:26 PM
Or, if there's not one handy, hold down the 'alt' key and type 0246. 0214 is capital

ö
Ö

kayaker
10-12-2011, 01:15 PM
But. . .why are there no umlauts in umlaut?

Balance
10-12-2011, 01:55 PM
But. . .why are there no umlauts in umlaut?
That would be recürsive.

shantih
10-12-2011, 02:24 PM
But. . .why are there no umlauts in umlaut?

Irönic, isn't it?

msmith537
10-12-2011, 02:26 PM
Clearly the term "gimp" has long been in use prior to Pulp Fiction to mean a "crippled person". As has the leather S&M bondage outfit he was wearing.

The impression I got was that The Gimp was basically a simpleminded, animialistic, possibly metally retarded man who was probably going to rape the shit out of Butch and Marsellus. Possibly he was once normal and driven insane from the abuses of Zed & Co. Maybe he was always like that. Doesn't matter since we aren't really supposed to regard The Gimp as "human".

As to the "point", I think it was just another one of those bizarre non-sequitors one typically finds in a Tarantino film.

madmonk28
10-12-2011, 02:59 PM
Yeah, I think the point is that these guys in the pawn shop were in to some strange shit and that Wallace's and Butch's day just took a turn for the worst.

Bryan Ekers
10-12-2011, 03:57 PM
Yeah, I think the point is that these guys in the pawn shop were in to some strange shit and that Wallace's and Butch's day just took a turn for the worst.

And it's not like the day was going that well for either of them beforehand.

Miller
10-12-2011, 04:16 PM
As to the "point", I think it was just another one of those bizarre non-sequitors one typically finds in a Tarantino film.

I don't think it was a random nonsequitor (I'd argue that Tarantino films, as a rule, don't have a lot of nonsequitors), but rather, part of the overall homage to the pulp magazines and dime novels that were the inspiration for the film. Prior to, say, the late '70s, pulp novels and magazines were one of the few places where you could find media representations of homosexuality. Homosexuality was generally depicted as lurid and illicit, as much a part of the underground as the mobsters and drug addicts that populated the "straight" pulps, and no less trustworthy or honest. Homosexuals were presented as predators, and their deviancy almost always led to their death, or at the very least, total mental breakdown.

For Pulp Fiction, Tarantino clearly wanted to invoke that feeling of dangerous, almost monstrous sexuality conveyed by the old pulp magazines. Problem is, while fifty years ago, cruising gay bars or hooking up with other dudes at the gym was shockingly degenerate, by the 1990s it was positively suburban. In the pulps, you could have a character that's gay, and your audience would understand that to mean, "Probably some sort of a rapist or something." By the time the movie was released, you're more like to think, "Probably really likes Ikea." So, to convey the right mood, Tarantino had to go all the way and make them explicit, on-screen rapists.

The scene, of course, also serves as the movie's big nod to the pervasive bondage themes of the old pulp novels. What makes it interesting is that, for a movie based on a genre infamous for it's women in peril (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Bondage_in_pulp_magazines) themes, the only time in the film we see anyone tied up and menaced, the leggy blonde has been replaced by Ving Rhames and Bruce Willis. It's a pretty neat subversion of one of the dominant genre conventions, and very subtly done.

Robot Arm
10-12-2011, 05:54 PM
The impression I got was that The Gimp was basically a simpleminded, animialistic, possibly metally retarded man who was probably going to rape the shit out of Butch and Marsellus.I figured The Gimp was Maynard and Zed's victim on days when no convenient alternatives came into the pawn shop. (Which would probably be most days, too.)

If I may add a question, what happens to The Gimp? I think I read somewhere that he suffocated from hanging by his collar after Butch knocks him out, but I don't know if that's canon. Marsellus would have definitely wanted to conceal what had happened to him, but called a couple hard, pipe-hittin' brothers to come deal with Zed. Would he have sent The Gimp on his way and come up with some explanation why he wanted to go medieval on Zed's ass?

Sampiro
10-12-2011, 06:10 PM
If I may add a question, what happens to The Gimp? I think I read somewhere that he suffocated from hanging by his collar after Butch knocks him out, but I don't know if that's canon.

I read the screenplay- the one that was released as a book by Tarantino- and it's in there. I think he was intentionally being enigmatic on The Gimp, but in the notes he did say something about how Russell (Zed refers to Russell's old room) was a poor schlub who got kidnapped and enslaved like Butch and Marsellus and eventually was killed or died.

Trivia: Tarantino's original choice for the role of Zed was Christopher Jones (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Jones_(actor)), a heart-throb actor from the '60s and early '70s (pics (http://www.google.com/search?q=christopher+jones+actor&hl=en&rls=com.microsoft:en-us&biw=1007&bih=558&prmd=imvnso&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=Xx2WTu_yDabL0QHtsqDjBw&ved=0CC8QsAQ)) best known for Ryan's Daughter and somehow connected to Tarantino through Mama Tarantino. (She and Jones are both from Tennessee and cousins-through-marriage or some such- they don't know each other but whenever a Jones movie was on his mother or somebody in the family would tell Quentin "He's your cousin!".) Christopher Jones walked away from his acting career at the height of his success to devote himself to his artwork, and Tarantino wanted to revive his career for him like he did Travolta and Carradine. Jones was interested, then read the script: he didn't really want his return to be as a hillbilly rapist. (He did return for a later low budget movie, but not by Tarantino.)
Tarantino also wanted the song My Sharona to play during the rape scene. Whoever owns the publishing rights declined upon learning how it was to be used. Probably a good choice: I still can't hear Johnny Mathis's Wonderful without thinking of the most disturbing episode of X Files (an episode called Home that involves an incestuous hillbilly clan).

Robot Arm
10-12-2011, 06:23 PM
I read the screenplay- the one that was released as a book by Tarantino- and it's in there.I thought that was probably where I read it, but wasn't sure.

I still think there's a bit of an open question how Marsellus dealt with things after Butch left.

"Beat this guy up and make sure he feels every bit of it."
"Does this have anything to do with the bondage dungeon and the guy in the leather suit?"
"No."

Lemur866
10-12-2011, 06:35 PM
Or how about, "Boss, we're literally torturing the crap out of this one guy, and all he does is beg for more."

Miller
10-12-2011, 06:50 PM
I never saw the gimp as a victim. I think he's a willing participant in the festivities. When they drag Butch out of the room to focus on Marcellus, they leave the gimp there as a guard, tied to the wall but not really prevented from leaving the same way Butch did. Even if he is suffering from the world's worst case of Patty Hearst Syndrome, that seems to be a big risk for the other two guys to take, particularly considering what they're up to at the moment.

I'm pretty sure he strangles to death after Butch knocks him out, but if he's still alive when Marcellus's crew shows up, I doubt it lasts very long.

I thought that was probably where I read it, but wasn't sure.

I still think there's a bit of an open question how Marsellus dealt with things after Butch left.

"Beat this guy up and make sure he feels every bit of it."
"Does this have anything to do with the bondage dungeon and the guy in the leather suit?"
"No."

I think that's part of the reason why he was going to get a bunch of crack-heads in to do the work. First, of course, crack-heads will do absolutely anything, no matter how vile, for more crack. But secondly, nobody ever listens to crack-heads, because they're fucking crazy. Some hears a crack-head raving about how he helped Marcellus Wallace murder a gay hillbilly bondage rapist, they're not going to pay it a lot of attention, 'cause yesterday the same guy was talking about how he helped Bill Clinton and Batman defeat the space aliens, but nobody knows about it because the CIA owns all the newspapers.

Also, just for Sampiro, the basement scene set to "My Sharona." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJBng7Ge3Y0)

Sampiro
10-12-2011, 07:44 PM
Also, just for Sampiro, the basement scene set to "My Sharona." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJBng7Ge3Y0)

Tarantino's right: it is a "hillbilly buttfucking song". :D

Argent Towers
10-12-2011, 07:58 PM
I just watched the scene and it seems to be the case that the gimp is there willingly. He laughs at Butch (Bruce Willis) when the guys go into the other room with Marcellus, mocking him. If the Gimp were a captive, he'd have been asking Willis to help him. The Gimp wears a mask with a gag, but his hands are free and he could have easily undone it; he's also "tied" to something on the ceiling, but not in a very committed way; the tying of him seems to just be for show, part of the S&M game. When Willis frees himself from the chair, the Gimp starts screaming. He's not actually saying anything, just making an animalistic scream, to alert his "masters" in the next room.

The Gimp is actually pretty powerfully-built, and he doesn't have the posture and body language of a captive. It seems clear that he is a guy who, for whatever reason, enjoys living in the basement with these guys and participating in their games.

Ambivalid
10-12-2011, 08:02 PM
I just watched the scene and it seems to be the case that the gimp is there willingly. He laughs at Butch (Bruce Willis) when the guys go into the other room with Marcellus, mocking him. If the Gimp were a captive, he'd have been asking Willis to help him. The Gimp wears a mask with a gag, but his hands are free and he could have easily undone it; he's also "tied" to something on the ceiling, but not in a very committed way; the tying of him seems to just be for show, part of the S&M game. When Willis frees himself from the chair, the Gimp starts screaming. He's not actually saying anything, just making an animalistic scream, to alert his "masters" in the next room.

The Gimp is actually pretty powerfully-built, and he doesn't have the posture and body language of a captive. It seems clear that he is a guy who, for whatever reason, enjoys living in the basement with these guys and participating in their games.

Stockholm Syndrome is a term used to describe a real paradoxical psychological phenomenon where hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.

I am not saying this is what is going on in the movie, just that such a condition exists.

BrainGlutton
10-12-2011, 08:17 PM
and i don't know how to do an umlaut.:(

Don't feel bad, it took the Gimp weeks to learn that.

Argent Towers
10-12-2011, 08:38 PM
Stockholm Syndrome is a term used to describe a real paradoxical psychological phenomenon where hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.

I am not saying this is what is going on in the movie, just that such a condition exists.

Believe me, I know all about that and about many other psychological concepts - but from what we can see of the Gimp's short performance in the film, he seems pretty confident and secure in his role.

kayaker
10-13-2011, 08:40 AM
Also, just for Sampiro, the basement scene set to "My Sharona." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJBng7Ge3Y0)

Awesome.

Cartooniverse
10-13-2011, 04:09 PM
I don't think it was a random nonsequitor (I'd argue that Tarantino films, as a rule, don't have a lot of nonsequitors), but rather, part of the overall homage to the pulp magazines and dime novels that were the inspiration for the film. Prior to, say, the late '70s, pulp novels and magazines were one of the few places where you could find media representations of homosexuality. Homosexuality was generally depicted as lurid and illicit, as much a part of the underground as the mobsters and drug addicts that populated the "straight" pulps, and no less trustworthy or honest. Homosexuals were presented as predators, and their deviancy almost always led to their death, or at the very least, total mental breakdown.

For Pulp Fiction, Tarantino clearly wanted to invoke that feeling of dangerous, almost monstrous sexuality conveyed by the old pulp magazines. Problem is, while fifty years ago, cruising gay bars or hooking up with other dudes at the gym was shockingly degenerate, by the 1990s it was positively suburban. In the pulps, you could have a character that's gay, and your audience would understand that to mean, "Probably some sort of a rapist or something." By the time the movie was released, you're more like to think, "Probably really likes Ikea." So, to convey the right mood, Tarantino had to go all the way and make them explicit, on-screen rapists.

The scene, of course, also serves as the movie's big nod to the pervasive bondage themes of the old pulp novels. What makes it interesting is that, for a movie based on a genre infamous for it's women in peril (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Bondage_in_pulp_magazines) themes, the only time in the film we see anyone tied up and menaced, the leggy blonde has been replaced by Ving Rhames and Bruce Willis. It's a pretty neat subversion of one of the dominant genre conventions, and very subtly done.

Dude. My respect for your cinematic acumen just pinned the needle at 11. Very nicely articulated.

Bitchin' Youtubes edit too !!

AClockworkMelon
10-13-2011, 04:22 PM
I always assumed that the Gimp was a previous victim. If he's "willing" now it's only because he's been brainwashed after years of what I imagine was horrific abuse.

Miller
10-13-2011, 06:37 PM
Dude. My respect for your cinematic acumen just pinned the needle at 11. Very nicely articulated.

Bitchin' Youtubes edit too !!

Thanks! But the YouTube edit wasn't mine, I found it while I was trying to find a copy of the basement scene.

Evil Captor
10-13-2011, 06:55 PM
I don't think it was a random nonsequitor (I'd argue that Tarantino films, as a rule, don't have a lot of nonsequitors), but rather, part of the overall homage to the pulp magazines and dime novels that were the inspiration for the film. Prior to, say, the late '70s, pulp novels and magazines were one of the few places where you could find media representations of homosexuality. Homosexuality was generally depicted as lurid and illicit, as much a part of the underground as the mobsters and drug addicts that populated the "straight" pulps, and no less trustworthy or honest. Homosexuals were presented as predators, and their deviancy almost always led to their death, or at the very least, total mental breakdown.

For Pulp Fiction, Tarantino clearly wanted to invoke that feeling of dangerous, almost monstrous sexuality conveyed by the old pulp magazines. Problem is, while fifty years ago, cruising gay bars or hooking up with other dudes at the gym was shockingly degenerate, by the 1990s it was positively suburban. In the pulps, you could have a character that's gay, and your audience would understand that to mean, "Probably some sort of a rapist or something." By the time the movie was released, you're more like to think, "Probably really likes Ikea." So, to convey the right mood, Tarantino had to go all the way and make them explicit, on-screen rapists.

The scene, of course, also serves as the movie's big nod to the pervasive bondage themes of the old pulp novels. What makes it interesting is that, for a movie based on a genre infamous for it's women in peril (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Bondage_in_pulp_magazines) themes, the only time in the film we see anyone tied up and menaced, the leggy blonde has been replaced by Ving Rhames and Bruce Willis. It's a pretty neat subversion of one of the dominant genre conventions, and very subtly done.

I think you absolutely nailed it there, Miller. The scene resonates because at whatever level, Tarantino realized that he was going to have to extend the "homosexuals as monstrously evil" trope a LOT to make the theme work on the same level it did in the fifties. "The Children's Hour" was recently on TCM, and I was sitting there watching all the histrionics about the merest hint of lesbianism, and inwardly I was thinking "Well, just buy her a toaster and get on with your lives, idiots!"

And as you point out, nice subversion of the damsel in distress theme with the most macho, powerful characters in the story playing the role of damsels in distress in bondage and getting raped (though in the 50s the rape rarely, if ever, happened ... Hayes Code doncha know).

Now I need only borrow your analysis and present it as my own and everyone will think me a supah geenyus!

Cartooniverse
10-13-2011, 08:13 PM
Thanks! But the YouTube edit wasn't mine, I found it while I was trying to find a copy of the basement scene.

Well, a 9.75 isn't so bad.


:D

Frylock
10-13-2011, 08:16 PM
According to this YouTube video of Norm MacDonald doing a Tarantino impression (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpZ8-ovfKc4), the character is kept in a trunk in the basement of some guy's house, and he is used for deviant, hardcore, gay sex.

(That clip, btw, proves that Norm McDonald can do something well on screen other than being "Norm McDonald.")

JohnT
10-13-2011, 08:49 PM
I never realized until this thread that "hard, pipe-hittin'..." was a reference to crack addicts. I, er, just assumed that Marcellus was talking about a couple of bad-assed dudes who were wielding pipes used to beat on Zed and Company. :smack:

Jaledin
10-13-2011, 09:10 PM
I never realized until this thread that "hard, pipe-hittin'..." was a reference to crack addicts. I, er, just assumed that Marcellus was talking about a couple of bad-assed dudes who were wielding pipes used to beat on Zed and Company. :smack:

Soon to be living the rest of his short-assed life in agony rapist, here.

I'm shocked you didn't think pipe-hitting meant hitting the pipe. Live and learn, son!

Slow Moving Vehicle
10-13-2011, 11:05 PM
I never realized until this thread that "hard, pipe-hittin'..." was a reference to crack addicts. I, er, just assumed that Marcellus was talking about a couple of bad-assed dudes who were wielding pipes used to beat on Zed and Company. :smack:

Me, too. But I remembered the line as "pipe-swinging..." , which makes sense with your interpretation.

Robot Arm
10-13-2011, 11:20 PM
I'm shocked you didn't think pipe-hitting meant hitting the pipe. Live and learn, son!I took it the same way. Marsellus doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who'd have crack addicts on the payroll to come beat someone up at a moment's notice. It just seems a little too undisciplined. He does strike me as the kind of guy who'd know where to call to get a couple of 6'8" bodybuilders who know how to mess somebody up with plumbing supplies.

tr0psn4j
10-14-2011, 02:58 AM
First time I've heard of it being crackpipe and not hitting someone with a pipe.

Chou4555
10-14-2011, 04:02 AM
A fascinating thread. I feel as though I have been taken on a deviant journey of discovery! Thanks!

Kobal2
10-14-2011, 04:06 AM
I always assumed that the Gimp was a previous victim. If he's "willing" now it's only because he's been brainwashed after years of what I imagine was horrific abuse.

I always figured he was pretty darn relieved the two weirdoes weren't picking on him for once and would probably be busy with Butch & Marcellus for a couple days at least. Good incentive to try and prevent them from leaving so soon.