Friday, April 11, 2008

They Use Soup: Throwing Up in Hollywood

Way back when, it sometimes happened in the movies, a girl turning green and then quickly, discreetly running to the bathroom, with an urgent closing of the door. And maybe some muted noise. This was the subtle way of telling the audience that the girl is pregnant. Turn the clock and it became the ick factor that got teenage boys (and Boy Men) laughing. Now it's become a shorthand for the Serious Emotional Moment. You don't think Angel's Connor has emotional depth? Have him upchuck after seeing "Daddy's Birthday" marked on a calendar, the words lovingly encased in a red heart. See how much he wants a daddy? A normal home? Want to show how horrible cancer is? Have a bald-headed person throw up in someone's arms. Want a bonding moment in Sex and the City? Have Charlotte and hubby upchuck in tandem an outrageously expensive dinner -- and don't forget to throw in the diarrhea, the cherry on the cake.

(Apparently the preferred fake vomit is canned vegetable soup. I always thought the thing looked foul, even heated up.)

Now what's the correlation between sex and vomit? Both involve projectile bodily fluids, yes. But hasn't the rise in the Vomit Moment gone hand in hand with the rise in the fuck scene? Both involve the pre-coital moment, the post-coital moment, and lots and lots of sound. Easy, brain-dead story telling for the cloning generation. The beauty of the Vomit Moment, unlike the fuck scene, is that you don't need plot development. In fact, development spoils the Vomit Moment. The more unexpected, the more sudden, the better. No warning. You must not give the viewer time to zap to another channel. If you do, you're an amateur, a poseur. You do not understand the essence of the Vomit Moment.

I really, really don't like to see vomit. For me, projectile vomiting is what strobe lighting is for epileptics. It really makes me sick and then I have to run to the bathroom. And there is no reason to be so graphic. What are we going to see next? People literally crapping? I'm begging Hollywood to give out warnings. Like you know how they have codes for violence and strong language? Let's add VM.

Of course what infects the movies infects the theater. God of Carnage, a play by Yasmina Reza which is currently playing in London, has a surprise Vomit Moment. Well, it was a surprise until everyone started talking about it. Now, the plays a critical success. So be scared. Be very scared. There's no place to hide. Vomit is everywhere.

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