Monday, July 07, 2008

Day Seven: NaBloPoMo Goes to the Movies

In the last four days, we've gone to the movies three times. One of the movies, Hancock, doesn't have a food focus, unless you count two bizarre scenes of exxxxtreme close-ups in which Will Smith gnaws on a meatball.

The other two movies were Jarrah movies, and I've realized something about my parenting experience: while some moms get sucked into all-things princess, or outfits of tulle and bunting, I think I've found my guilty mommy pleasure: kids movies. I suddenly have an excuse to while away the afternoon with every piece of craftily marketed Disney dreck to hit the dark, cozy cineplex, and here's a confession. I'm lurving it.

On Friday all three of us went to see Wall-E. It was very entertaining, though I marveled that the very premise would be totally impenetrable to anyone under the age of...eight? I don't know. But I'd wager not a lot of kindergarteners can stretch their minds around a post-apocalyptic Earth devoid of humans and covered in mountains of garbage, populated only by an adorable little droid with a Fine Collectibles fetish and his cockroach pal. Strangely enough, the establishment of this premise--about 20 minutes worth--is the most fun part of the movie.

Later, the terrain shifts to a space station like an all-inclusive resort for people with no bones. Some of these scenes got sort of busy and manic and not as contemplative as the early ones focused just on Wall-E, but I am coming to my point here. The humans in their hover-chairs all have Big Gulp-type vessels from which they continually slurp, and butler droids refill them whenever they get low. At first, somewhat dopily, I imagined that they were all very thirsty from proximity to a thousand suns or something, but when the captain announces the 700th anniversary of the space station and reminds residents to get their celebratory "cupcake in a cup," I realized that they get all their nourishment from those cups.

This was interesting because it's not very interesting. Or rather, I had an incredible sense of deja-vu (and maybe some of you can help me out, since of course I'm inconveniently drawing a blank) that this all-food-becomes-liquid (or pills?) in the future/space is a theme in movies with a long and illustrious history. I know that people are fascinated by the freeze-dried food bricks that astronauts eat, but it's not like astronauts prefer to eat them. And I know that everything in the future is supposed to be really convenient (that's how the future is always depicted, anyway) and yes, it would be convenient to slurp all our nutrients on the go.

But it wouldn't be very yummy. Eating is about sight and smell and touch and even sound. You can't take away four senses and leave only one and expect anyone to care about it anymore. Maybe that's the point...maybe these movies are being satirical about just how "convenient" the future would be. But I do think there's some ideal that, without shopping, preparation, cooking and mealtimes, we'd be able to cram so much more into each day. As someone who has done many 24-hour fasts in my life (it's a Jew thing) I can attest to the accuracy of this notion. You do save a LOT of time. You just don't want to. You wish with every fiber of your being that you were wasting that time, and not just because you're hungry. Because so much of our social lives revolves around food and eating. Without those rituals, we have very little reason to talk to each other. Which I guess is why, in Wall-E, no one does talk to each other, at least not in person. They just cruise around on their hover-chairs, slurping their slop and yakking on the phone. Creepy.

Can you help me out, Readers? Why does this "convenience" motif keep coming up in movies about the future when no one would actually want to live that way?

Today Jarrah and I had a mommy and me matinee of Kit Kittredge. I know, I know, she's supposed to be the live-action version of one of those American Girl dolls, which is kinda scary, but that doesn't come up. Kit is living through The Great Depression, and her family takes in quirky boarders to get by now that her father's lost his job. Also, she hankers to be a reporter for the Cincinatti Register, and she's all spunky and righteous and a defender of hobos, of which there are many at this moment in history (they even have their own language.)

The main currency in the film is food. I wouldn't have realized this except that Jarrah was so mystified by the scenes depicting a crowded soup kitchen, hobos asking to work for food, the "tricks" Kit's mama uses to make meals go further for the boarders, the team ethic of "hobo soup," and the general air of worry that, without work, no one can eat. Jarrah kept twisting around and whispering "Wha' happened?" in that way she does, and I found I was having a hard time explaining. "They don't have money, and you need money to buy food," I whispered back, several times, with slight variation. "But we have money, right? Right?" she whispered a few times. I suppose I could have been more reassuring in some way but I wasn't sure what to say.

I tried explaining that it was a hard time for everyone, but I must have been vague because when we got home she said, "I'm worried about Daddy."

"Why? Daddy's fine."

"When will I see him again?" Suddenly, I remember that Kit's daddy goes away to Chicago for a long time to try to find work. I explained that the movie was just pretend, and that her daddy would be home at 6:30 like always. But I marveled at her inability to understand that people might not have money for food. Not that I expect her to understand the connection between poverty and hunger. But because I'm so glad she doesn't know what hunger means at all.


Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

That child is so brilliant.

And this post is a gem.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure this is what you meant in your question about the motif in Sci Fi for all food being turned into pills or drink, but there's the famous Soylent Green, in which all food is a little brick like thing (I think I'm remembering this right) and "It's people!!" as Charlton Heston learns to his dismay.

This is, of course, another example of your thesis about "convenience" not really being convenient.


Sam said...

Thanks, T. I was trying to think of Soylent Green and it was escaping me. And what's the Woody Allen one? Oh, Sleeper! I think they ate only pills.