Friday, September 12, 2008

Would you eat me? I'd eat me.

In Julian Baggini's book The Pig That Wants to be Eaten, he poses 100 short philosophical experiments, sort of like 2 minute mysteries written by Plato. In one of them, the experiment that shares the title of the book, Baggini invokes a moment from Douglas Adams' The Restaurant at the End of the Universe in which Max Berger is about to eat a plate of sausages and bacon:

"The sausages and bacon had come from a pig called Priscilla he had met the week before. The pig had been genetically engineered to be able to speak and, more importantly, to want to be eaten. Ending up on a human's table was Priscilla's lifetime ambition and she woke up on the day of her slaughter with a keen sense of anticipation. She had told all this to Max just before rushing off to the comfortable and humane slaughterhouse. Having heard her story, Max thought it would be disrespectful not to eat her."
At then end of all this Baggini offers questions over the morality of engineering such an animal, and, finally, eating it. If the animal is kept in a respectful and humane environment, and is delivered unto death in a peaceful and non-violent fashion, is there any reason to abstain from such a meal?

I will admit that I do have some strong misgivings over how the animals we eat are treated. I am also troubled by the basic notion that "If it don't have human consciousness, who gives a shit?" Just because an animal can't speak and express the same ideas about Being and Time that we can, doesn't mean that a certain other awareness doesn't exist.

All that said, I'm not a vegetarian. I eat meat on a regular basis. But I would not eat Priscilla the pig because I DO NOT WANT MY FOOD TALKING TO ME.

I do not want my food anthropomorphized on ANY LEVEL. I don't want it talking to me, telling me how delicious it is, I don't want it trying to seduce me into eating it, I don't want to see it getting dressed in little clothes and hoppity-skippity cheering as it heads full of glee to the apocalypse in my mouth.

I want it to be food. That's all. Food.

So why, OH WHY, do advertising companies want to show us images of food, talking, singing, dancing or any manner of human activities?? Why do they think its appetizing? WHY ARE THEY TRYING TO POISON MY MIND WITH THE IDEA THAT THE VERY FOOD I'M EATING MAY BE EXPERIENCING PAIN OF DEATH IN MY MOUTH AS I CHEW IT TO BITS AND THEN DISSOLVE IT IN THE ACIDS OF MY STOMACH (Oh, god, what if a piece of still-conscious being gets down my esophagus and into the gas chamber of my stomach...those creaks and growls from your belly? Those are screams.)


Great Scott.

Tell me this: Would we be in a rage to buy and eat McDonald's pressed chicken blobs if, at the end of this commercial, Ronald McDonald snatched up one of those little guys and took a big wet bite out of its ass? How quickly would the scene of cheering chicken dollops turn into a screaming frenzy as the GIANT CLOWN GOES ON RAMPAGE SCOOPING THEM UP, DUNKING THEM FACE FIRST INTO THE BBQ SAUCE AND SNARFING THEM DOWN. Would we stand for this slaughter of innocents?

Because they are, aren't they? Innocents? Foolishly weaving baskets and taking every pun literally, dunking THEMSELVES in a sauce of sugar and salt? Does McDonald's even realize that they are reinforcing PETA's principle that meat is indeed murder?

Oh, my god...someone call the police.

The saddest part about this is that the Cookie doesn't even know why he's there at first. He was invited, sure, but I bet he figured he was there to enjoy the birthday party.

I wonder if the children have been stalking him for months, waiting for just right moment. Jesus, is it even really her birthday?

And then, like a scene out of The Lottery, the children lean in with an ominous hunger, as the Cookie understands his fate. They cut before any real violence begins...but I wonder if he tries to make a break for it. If he is capable of understanding that the end is nigh, would he plead for his life? This has the makings of a telling societal allegory.'s pretty funny.

But it doesn't make me want to eat the makes me want to befriend it. I don't want to be friends with my food. I WANT TO EAT IT.

The other disturbing thought about this commercial is, if you replace the M&M with a human, you have and unsettling allusion to Englishman William Hall who, in 1982 committed suicide by drilling 8 holes in his head.

Morbid? Oh, sure, but so are the advertising companies for setting up scenarios in which the ineluctable end consists of killing of a sentient being for our dining pleasure. Even in this last, arguably funny candy commercial, the implication stands that our little balding green friend could feel pain or even die...otherwise why NOT drill some ear holes for crying out loud?

The food we eat these days is such a quagmire. There is no end to the tangled web of moral, ethical, political and/or Health issues associated with what we put in our mouths on a daily basis. And I am very open to discussing these issues.



Don Hall said...

Best post ever. I love da rage...

stephanie said...

OH MY GOD, I think the same thing. I hate anthropomorphized food. It's wrong on so many levels.

There used to be a commercial for a pasta bake where the noodles would flirt with each other and talk about how tasty they were, and then jump onto the oven. Gave me nightmares.

-j-j- said...

Oh My GOD! I tried to find that commercial but I couldn't.

It wigged me right the hell out.

Add to Technorati Favorites