You Mean We're Made of Meat?

March 1, 2005

When I was a young child I made a horrifying discovery. The vehicle for that discovery? Television, of course. Where else do children get to viscerally experience the ugliest parts of humanity with the full endorsement of their culture and parents?

Now, to be fair, my parents were quite strict with our television viewing. The programs my sister and I enjoyed were closely monitored (with the exception of Saturday morning cartoons, which apparently were given a pass because they allowed my exhausted mother and father a chance to sleep in). We were not allowed to view anything that preached jingoistic pride in the military complex (G.I. Joe), nor were we to spend any time with debased pop-culture sensations (MTV). When I take stock of the television landscape now it is hard not to chuckle at how vigorously my parents worked to protect us from trifling animated depictions of Reagan-ear foreign policy fears and Prince videos. What would they do with Dexter or The Girls Next Door?

On one occasion my mother decided to let me watch a cheesy 80's film called Romancing the Stone when it aired on television. As my parents didn't seem to have the time or funds to get away to the movies much (VCR players were still astronomically expensive) they often relied on the television to bring the megaplex of two years ago home to them. This is how I'd seen much of 2001 before a small plane crashed three blocks away and took out all of the power lines to our neighborhood. I spent many years after that wondering if the evil computer that shared my birth date had felt badly about turning against the humans. It would take a late night double feature in Berkeley ten years later to answer that question.

In Romancing the Stone, the baddie ends up falling in a pool with some alligators or crocodiles. They immediately proceed to munch on him. In a fit of agony he holds up a bloody stump of an arm, and it was at that point that little Jeffrey just lost it. Hot tears of terror raced over my cheeks as I turned to my mother and screamed out the dreadful epiphany granted me by the TV:

"You mean we're made of meat?"


Hannah said...

When I first to moved to America, it was to a job in West Virginia. Within days of living in Charleston, I realized that the reality was less welcoming than the promise. Somewhat depressed I went to see a movie: Romancing the Stone. It cheered me up no end and as cheesy as it may have been, the movie helped me through my first week in WVA (although I must admit that it didn't little for the second!).

Jeffrey T. Baker said...

Well, I'm pleased to find out that Romancing the Stone also did some good in the world. I must admit that I've never watched it again— more out of fears related to 80's fashion than out of concerns about my body being composed of meat.