Would you eat something someone whispered to sweetly? Would you eat something someone cared about?
On an episode of the brilliant, hidden camera show on TruTV called Impractical Jokers, the comedian Salvatore (Sal) Vulcano assumed the role of a worker at the counter of a bakery. In the course of his duties, in an episode, titled “Who Arted?”, Sal speaks to the pastries that a customer ordered before placing them in that customer’s take home pastry box. The implied joke, in this transaction, was that Sal had developed a familiar bond with these pastries that went beyond the usual, professional association a baker has with his creations.
“I’m going to give you to this lady now, and she’s going to eat you,” he whispered to the pastry. Then, as if involved in an argument with the pastry, Sal Vulcano added: “I’m sorry, this is just the way things are.”
In reaction to this display, the customer on the other side of the counter, decided that she did not want that particular pastry. She didn’t reveal anything about her decision making process, but it was obvious that she was uncomfortable with the idea of eating that particular pastry. Without saying a word, Sal selected another pastry, and he proceeded to speak to that one too. The woman interrupted him saying:
“I don’t want one that you’ve spoken to.”
At the conclusion of the segment, all four comedians provided comment on the segment, and they admitted that they wouldn’t eat food that someone has spoken to either.
The question that is not answered by the four comedians, or the woman in question, is why a person would reject the idea of eating an inanimate object, such as a pastry, because someone has spoken to it? I put this scenario to a friend, and he said that his decision would be based on what the person said to the pastry.
“So if the person said things you deemed to be unacceptable you wouldn’t eat it? It’s creepy, I’ll grant you that, and I may join you in giving the man an odd look when he does it, but I would then sit and eat it without any uncomfortable feelings or guilt.”
The obvious answer is that Sal’s presentation animated the pastries in a manner that this customer found disconcerting. In her world, presumably, it had always been socially acceptable to eat pastries, and she wanted to return that world. She didn’t want the guilt associated with eating a product that had a friend, or that someone cared about, or at the very least she didn’t want to watch their interaction. She was so uneasy with the association that she made a boldfaced demand that Sal give her a pastry that hasn’t been spoken to in any manner, and she did this without recognizing the lunacy of such a demand.
Proper analysis of the segment is almost impossible, since we don’t know what was going on in this customer’s head, but it appears to be an excellent portrayal, albeit incidental, of an individual that over thinks matters. She appears to be an individual who cares about matters that prop up her perception before others. Who would eat something that someone cares so much about? A cad would. Someone who doesn’t care about a person, place, or thing would. They might worry that doing so could reflect poorly on them if they could do so without a second thought. You’re saying you would eat such a thing without guilt? What kind of person are you? How would you sell yourself to those around in the aftermath?
Would you eat a small child’s beloved dog? If the answer is no, what are your parameters? Would you have any problems eating a turkey? What if you met that turkey, and that turkey had a little personality to it? What if that turkey displayed a little spunk that the observer couldn’t help but appreciate? What if that turkey befriend another turkey in a manner that was so obvious it was a little endearing? What if it displayed some kindness that left an impression? What if it allowed you to fondle its wattle? What if that turkey had a name? How could you eat a thing with a name? What kind of person are you? Would you rather eat a turkey that you’ve never met, that some individual in a factory farm slaughtered and packaged for you? If you are that caring person that doesn’t want to see anything (or anyone) suffer, how could you eat a pastry that an individual appears to have bonded with? What’s the difference? Where is the line? It’s a pastry you say, and a pastry does not have the recognition of its own life in the manner a turkey does.
If you’re a person that would have difficulty eating a pastry that someone spoke to lovingly, then you may be a little too obsessed with presentation. You may be as susceptible to commercialization and suggestion as all those people you claim to hate. You’re a “high-minded” person that cares so much about the perception others have of you that you will not even eat a pastry that you purchased when no one you knew was around. You’re afraid of what it says about you that you will eat this beloved pastry guilt-free. You’re afraid you won’t be able to sleep at night knowing that you took a bite out of something that Sal appeared to love. You think too much, you have too much time on your hands, and you probably think less of a person that would eat such a thing, because it gives you a feeling of superiority.
How do we make our decisions on what not to eat? Does a vegetarian, or a vegan, make their decisions based entirely on a love of animals? Is their decision-making process entirely based on health and other non-political reasons? Most of them will tell you this when they introduce their predilections to you, but you usually find out their politics on the issue before you find out their last name. You’re usually left with the notion that their predilection is a superiority play, before you learn their middle name. If these characteristics play no role in the decision-making process, I say in an effort to try to appear objective, we have to ask why a seemingly reasonable woman would reject a pastry based solely on the fact that a Sal whispered sweet nothings to it before placing it in a pastry box?
If Sal had a Snickers bar perform the Can Can to animate that candy bar in a realistic, non-comedic manner would that woman, a vegan, or a vegetarian, be able to then eat that Snickers bar without regret or guilt? I realize that Snickers bars and pastries are relatively inanimate, but with proper, serious characterization would it be possible to animate them in such a fashion that a person, with susceptibilities to messaging, could be made to feel guilty about eating them? If that was successful, could an enterprising young documentarian launch a well-funded campaign, steeped in political pressure, lead a segment of the population to avoid eating all Snickers bars based on videos about the inhumane manufacturing process involved in the creation and packaging of Snickers bars? With the proper documentarian displaying the inhumane process through which the peanuts and caramel are adjoined with the nougat in a final process that involves what could be called a suffocation technique employed by the layer of chocolate placed over the top, would it be possible to substantiate this cause to a point where a person would not only stop eating Snickers but denigrate those that do, until they believe those people, and anyone that supports the Mars corporation to be identifying with evil? It’s not only possible, in my humble opinion, the seeds of it were on display in the inadvertent brilliance of this comic sketch on this episode of Impractical Jokers.