Pizza the Hutt (Spaceballs) – Lee
André, I’ll one-up you. Not only is my choice for favorite fictional food alive, it’s also a sentient being. I am of course referring to Pizza the Hutt:
Oh, and lest we forget, Vinnie/Max Headroom wasn’t the only one snacking on Pizza the Hutt. He tastes so damn good that he ate himself to death.
Pizza the Hutt also beats out gagh in the metaphorical meaning department. Spaceballs hit theaters in 1987, at the height of the hedonistic, consumption-oriented 1980’s. Pizza the Hutt is both a symbol of that decade’s hedonism and a prophetic forewarning of the stock market crash that followed the movie’s debut that same year.
Sadly, the lesson of Pizza the Hutt–and the stock market crash–went unheeded. America keeps eating itself to death to this day.
Soylent Green (Soylent Green) – Shechner
[I’d like to alert our affiliates I’ll be running over time.]
It is the rare movie that invents a foodstuff so emotionally weighted that the film co-opts said foodstuff’s name for its own. Fried Green Tomatoes, for one. Old Yeller, maybe. Soylent Green – the 1973 Hugo Award Nominated Film – definitely fits the bill. It, like Citizen Kane and pretty much every Sandra Bullock movie, is the kind few of us have watched, but of which pretty much everyone knows the ending. Admit it, you’ve never seen this flick, but since you’re here reading OTI, odds are you know the principal ingredient of that greeny goodness:
Now, I’ve actually seen this film, this doting love poem to Malthusian economics. For the uninitiated, Soylent Green is a potpourri of the Future Dystopian and Government Paranoia films which were both so popular in the 70’s. Think a mix of The Conversation and Logan’s Run, but replace all acting and laser battles with Chuck Heston. Briefly, sometime in the distant future (say, ~13 years from now), the world’s become absurdly overpopulated, choking to death on the smog which long ago replaced air. This environment is utterly inhospitable for vegetation, and hence the traditional sources of food have become scarce. Via a dummy corporation, the Gov’ment (composed of the standard shady and/or thuggish conspiracy types) have developed a series of foodstuffs called “Soylent,” and distribute it to the starving masses. Soylents Red and Orange were allegedly made from sea-kelp, as the oceans are purportedly immune to the be-smogification of the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s assumed the latest-n-greatest offering–Soylent Green–is more of the same. Of course by film’s end (probably the beginning) we know better:
What’s ironically great about Soylent Green, the foodstuff, is that actually negates both of the central themes of Soylent Green, the movie: (A) The Future Sucks, and (B) The Government Cannot Be Trusted.
Regarding (A) – let’s assume that the dystopian corporatized Gov’ment follows the traditional lowest-bidder policy, and would therefore attempt any cost-cutting measure plausible. As it applies to Soylent production, materials, texture and color are easy to obtain and manipulate, but the taste would be difficult and expensive to disguise. But why should they even try? Why not just leave Green with it’s natural flavor?
Yep, as established by cultural anthropologists a century ago, and confirmed by modern day technology, people taste just. like. pork. So let’s consider your life in this future dystopia: No job, so you don’t have to work. No need for a home, because it’s pretty much 80 degrees and sunny outside every day anyway. As an average every-day citizen, you basically just hang out, occasionally get laid, and try to scrap together enough cash for a helping of the only foodstuff available: delicious bacon. This is what most of us call “vacation.”
Regarding (B) – let’s first recall the second law of thermodynamics. In a closed system, as spontaneous processes move forward, the amount of usable energy in the system decreases. Now, let’s consider the amount of energy (the “nutrient content”) present in, say, a newly-deceased 150 lb man. By definition of the Second Law, the energy in this 150 lb man would be insufficient to fuel a living 150 lb man. Over his lifetime the latter would have to consume more of his own weight in food. For one, the scarcity of supplies would help make the living population on earth progressively thinner.
But more importantly, the collective energy stored in a generation of people would be insufficient to fuel a group equal in size. Hence over time, if Soylent is the only ready foodstuff present, the Earth’s population would have to decrease. Overcrowding would subside to the point where the other remaining food stores would allow them to wait out the restoration of the environment. Thus, the shady Soylent Corporation–far from ensuring the destruction of the human race for their own nefarious ends–actually provides humanity with its salvation! I feel like this is an idea which has come up before…