NOTE: This article is a republication- Source: The Millions (by Chris Barsanti).
Near the end of 1993’s True Romance, that Quentin Tarantino-scripted echt-1990s gumbo of trash-film lore and pop culture nerdom tarted up with perfume-ad Tony Scott direction and just-cameoing A-list stars, the comic-store-clerk-turned-gunslinger-on-the-run Clarence (Christian Slater) meets with Hollywood producer Lee (Saul Rubinek) to finalize a drug deal. Immediately, Clarence launches into a diatribe about what cinema means to him.
What does Clarence not like? Merchant Ivory award films. “Safe, geriatric, coffee table dog shit.” What does he like? “Mad Max, that’s a movie. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, that’s a movie. Rio Bravo, that’s a movie.” Lee—who just so happens to have made a Vietnam war flick which Clarence reveres—tips his cap to the young enthusiast: “We park our cars in the same garage.”
Given that Tarantino has called the script of True Romance his most autobiographical, Clarence can be read as his stand-in. Clarence also embodies the cinematic fan culture then coalescing. Within a few years, his dogmatic rage-screeding would become the coin of the realm, as sites like Ain’t It Cool News churned out the kinds of caps-lock manifestos that Clarence-ian enthusiasts could only dream of delivering to a producer’s face.
Much of the hype around some of the specific breed of ‘90s indie filmmakers—Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez, et al—centered on their dedication not to the high art of cinema but to the disrespected lower tranche of movies. A young Turk like Tarantino was more apt to cite Sonny Chiba, Silver Surfer, or women-in-prison exploitation flicks than Ozu, Ford, or Welles, preferring what Pauline Kael (whose writing enthralled a young Tarantino) called “a tawdry, corrupt art for a tawdry, corrupt world.” Like with each new generation of movie brats looking to upset the old order, this attitude seemed somewhat revolutionary at the time.
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