It seems obvious now, but Quentin Tarantino popularized the act of seedy film characters discussing the day-to-day realities of their existence. During one scene in Pulp Fiction, hired thug Vincent Vega goes to visit his heroin dealer, and they discuss the unfortunate fact that someone messed with his car.
There will be spoilers, be warned.
Here's the video, to get caught up:
It’s an interesting scene, simply because it’s fun to see a version of the underworld where gangsters are buddies with their drug dealers. They’re not always out shooting people or being hardasses; this is just a scene of ordinary people at their most relaxed and comfortable.
The fact that someone keyed the car was almost beside the point, but still ... who did it? And why?
It turns out, we have an answer, and it's been known online for a while now. I was researching something completely unrelated when I stumbled on a strange fact that kind of blew my mind: Butch, the boxer played by Bruce Willis, is the character who keyed Vega's car.
You've either known this for years, or you're blown away as well.
How it happened
Remember the film is shot out of order. The scene at the drug dealer's house happens after the murder in the car that necessitates a visit from The Wolf, but before Vega takes his boss' wife out for that ill-fated date. It also happens after the diner scene that both opens and closes the film. But what else happens before the scene at the drug dealer's house?
Vincent Vega meets Butch in a bar, as they both have a meeting with Marcellus Wallace.
Let's watch that scene again to get into the proper mood.
Let's keep in mind the day that Vincent Vega has had. He's accidentally killed someone in a car, he had to have that car cleaned, he's been in a robbery in a coffee shop, he's wearing someone else's silly clothes, and he's off to see the boss to talk about taking said boss' wife out for a date.
This is a man who has already been through way too much in a 24-hour period, and he's not about to take shit from a boxer he likely knows has been bought and paid for. This is a man desperately in need of some respect knowing that he doesn't have to give any to Butch.
Butch, on the other hand, just sold his soul, and he knows he can't really fight back against the kingpin's right hand man in the bar. Watch how Butch watches Vega and Wallace hug. Dude's had a shit day himself, and he has no real outlet on which to unload.
So what does he do? He goes out and scratches the hell out of Vega's car. There aren't many people in the bar, it's certainly not the barkeep's vehicle, so Butch is pretty safe knowing whose car he's messing up. He had the opportunity and the motive. It all fits.
Just in case you're not convinced, Tarantino himself confirmed this during an episode of Opie and Anthony. Start at the three minute mark if you'd like to see the discussion. Trust me, Tarantino on Opie and Anthony is just as annoying as it sounds.
So the question is asked, did Butch key Vega's car? Tarantino all but explodes. "Oh yes! And that's very good on your part! That's good reading between the lines!"