Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
A very popular “true movie fact” is that all of the clocks in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction are set to 4:20, a popular reference among marijuana enthusiasts. (The term has evolved from a meeting time for a group of teens in California in pursuit of weed to a code term used to refer to marijuana in general — a term popularized by the magazine High Times — to the point that April 20 has practically become a holiday for pot smokers).
Is that true? Are all of the clocks in Pulp Fiction set to 4:20?
No, it is not true.
It reminds me of a Comic Book Legends Revealed from a few years involving the belief that there’s a Superman reference in every episode of Seinfeld (either through a mention or by an appearance by the Superman magnet on Jerry’s refrigerator). As I pointed out then, that’s an exaggeration based on a fact. Superman was referenced a lot on Seinfeld, but obviously someone along the line felt it wasn’t enough merely for Superman to be referenced a lot; he had to be referenced in every episode.
Similarly, a number of clocks were set to 4:20 in Pulp Fiction. There are a couple in the pawn shop where Butch Coolidge is going to rescue Marcellus Wallace, for instance. However, even in those very scenes, there’s also a clock that’s not set to 4:20.
In addition, the most famous timepiece in the entire movie, Butch’s watch, isn’t set to 4:20 when we see it given to him as a child. There are others as well.
Obviously, at some point the telephone game went into effect, and instead of people simply noting the interesting bit of trivia that a number of clocks were set to 4:20 (which presumably is a marijuana reference), it soon became the more interesting (but also false) trivia that all of the clocks in Pulp Fiction were set to 4:20. It eventually became accepted as fact.
The legend is …
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