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Something Obscene at the Movies

Something Obscene at the Movies
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  • Something Obscene at the Movies

    Post #1 - November 23rd, 2004, 12:49 am
    Post #1 - November 23rd, 2004, 12:49 am Post #1 - November 23rd, 2004, 12:49 am
    I saw Kinsey today, the movie about the pioneering sex researcher of the 40s and 50s (a household name then, at least, demonstrated by the series of New Yorker cartoons shown having fun with him at one point). A very good movie, unusually accurate in its historical recreation of the period, and one which I hope will go a long way to breaking down our societal reticence to talk about sex-- perhaps one day it will even be discussed freely on daytime talk shows, for instance.

    I jest, of course, because this is Hollywood as usual rushing in to take a firm stand on a subject which has been settled for thirty years, at least I expect there are very few ticketbuyers for art cinemas who haven't long since come down on the side of Kinsey, not to mention Masters, Johnson, Alex Comfort and Dr. Ruth, in regard to things like acceptance of premarital sex, homosexuality, etc. It's gotten to the point where it's more daring, more provocative to take the opposite tack, to come out in favor of demureness and chastity, as Tom Wolfe does in his new novel-- behaving like it's 1950 is the one perversion that no one can imagine indulging in today.

    But if sexual puritanism has all but vanished, our own age is hardly free of bugbears and complexes of its own. And it was at this movie today that I was exposed to something genuinely obscene-- something which shocked me to my core, something which violated my values utterly, something so depraved and corrupting that I immediately sought ways to protect the children from it, lest society itself crumble under its onslaught.

    It's called Orville Redenbacher's Kettle Corn. Now the late Mr. Redenbacher has joined the not entirely dissimilar Dr. Kinsey in the next world, so we should not blame him for what is being done in his name. Kettle Corn implies some sort of premium product-- this seems as if it might be the Redenbacher of Sonoma next to all the usual Redenbacher plonk-- but it is nothing of the sort. It is, simply, popcorn which instead of salt and butter, tastes of a glossy, shellac-like sugar-coating. Imagine eating warmed Sugar Pops, and you have the very sensation.

    Now, no one would ever say that it has been difficult to get a sugar fix at the movie theaters. I was once supremely fond of Junior Mints, washed down with Dr. Pepper. But popcorn was the savory, salty alternative, a living link to the saltier days when our grandfathers munched on peanuts over a dark beer, interspersed with a deviled egg or chewy sausage, and left the youngsters to suck down sugar in the form of licorice or horehound sticks. To take such an honest, time-honored snack and infantilize it with sugar is truly repellent...

    ...But of course, though I say time-honored, there is one significant change in movie popcorn in the last few years. Which is, as we all know, that the nutrition nannies made theater chains give up the trans-fatty delights of coconut oil in favor of canola or Olestra or some such allegedly less deadly 10W30 concoction. Is it really coincidence that after one such momentous change like that, the first in decades, the floodgates to other bastardizations open?

    It makes me wish for a Hollywood epic which would rip the veil off the face of today's puritanism and finally let us speak, open and freely, of the desires burning inside us. Imagine a tall, handsome crusading scientist, working late into the night until his own questing mind begins to see the truth, then fighting the prejudice all around him to gain exposure for his radical ideas. Imagine him on trial for his job, maybe even for subversion against the state, and using this persecution as a chance to directly confront the sins of the age. When you take away coconut oil, he tells the hostile court, you do not kill the desire for its buttery goodness inside our hearts-- you only deform it, so that twisted new ideas like sugary-sweet popcorn take its place, making children of us all. We will only be free when we admit that all men are brothers, that our love is normal, not something to be ashamed of, that there was nothing wrong in a snack eaten under circumstances which meant that most of us would only have it once or twice a month anyway.

    Here would be a hero whose message would truly ring out amid the oppression we face today. For that reason, expect to see it at your local movie theater in about thirty years, at which time they'll be selling sugar-dipped hot dogs and God only knows what else.
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  • Post #2 - November 23rd, 2004, 12:57 am
    Post #2 - November 23rd, 2004, 12:57 am Post #2 - November 23rd, 2004, 12:57 am
    Mike G wrote: Kettle Corn implies some sort of premium product-- this seems as if it might be the Redenbacher of Sonoma next to all the usual Redenbacher plonk-- but it is nothing of the sort. It is, simply, popcorn which instead of salt and butter, tastes of a glossy, shellac-like sugar-coating. Imagine eating warmed Sugar Pops, and you have the very sensation.


    G,

    I think the "kettle" conjures associations with "kettle chips," a typically higher end potato chip product.

    I got nothing against sugar, but I continue to take my personal stand against the rising tide of anti-saltism and anti-butterism by using both as often as possible, accepting no substitutes. My favorite quote from the late Julia Child, as she added a stick of butter to a sauce, "Now, I know some of you are afraid of butter, so if you are, instead of butter, just use cream."

    Hammond
  • Post #3 - November 23rd, 2004, 1:14 am
    Post #3 - November 23rd, 2004, 1:14 am Post #3 - November 23rd, 2004, 1:14 am
    Mike,

    You are an extremely thoughtful and talented writer, and I really enjoy reading your posts. I'm not sure how great your ambition is to turn this into a paying gig, but someday when your whiling away your afternoons chatting up Polish waitresses in their fetchingly broken English or further investigating the Mennonite origins of Wichita burgers on the dime of some fancy publication like The New Yorker or Vogue, I'll be glad to shell out five bucks for the privilege of reading your stuff. Or at least I'll schlep out to Barnes and Noble and sit down to read it there. Really, I'm continually impressed by your wordplay, structure, distinctive voice, and originality of thought. Keep up the good work.

    Cheers,

    Aaron
  • Post #4 - November 23rd, 2004, 1:15 am
    Post #4 - November 23rd, 2004, 1:15 am Post #4 - November 23rd, 2004, 1:15 am
    Kettle corn and salty,buttery popcorn can peacefully coexist.And thanks for the opportunity to reference The Sensuous Man,The Sensuous Woman and Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask.If my post is too far off topic ,please delete.
  • Post #5 - November 23rd, 2004, 1:38 am
    Post #5 - November 23rd, 2004, 1:38 am Post #5 - November 23rd, 2004, 1:38 am
    I very much enjoyed reading your diatribe, Mike. You're a very entertaining writer.

    I like my popcorn with real butter and salt, but I was under the impression that kettle corn is a legitimate snack that's been around for at least a century. Is it, in fact, a new bastardization of popcorn?

    And what about caramel corn? Or Cracker Jack?
  • Post #6 - November 23rd, 2004, 8:53 am
    Post #6 - November 23rd, 2004, 8:53 am Post #6 - November 23rd, 2004, 8:53 am
    That some populace somewhere bathed popcorn in this sugar wash is not surprising; but its appearance suddenly, in movie theaters nationwide where it has never been known before, is a matter of marketing, not tradition. One is reminded of the Ploughman's Lunch, surely some ploughman somewhere had its ingredients somewhere in the history of rural England, but it was invented as a bar-friendly fast food by a tourism agency in the 60s all the same, and backed by a marketing campaign selling it as instant tradition.

    None of this is meant to denigrate Cracker Jack and its like, an admirably sweet AND savory treat.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #7 - November 23rd, 2004, 1:16 pm
    Post #7 - November 23rd, 2004, 1:16 pm Post #7 - November 23rd, 2004, 1:16 pm
    Kettle Corn's been a staple on the county fair scene for quite awhile. Occasionally, one spies the opportunity to buy into the Kettle Corn manufacturing process via TV shills. The S.O. and I find KC absolutely repulsive. And we love the siren song of caramel corn or chocolate caramel corn or, even fruit-flavored corn. The attenuated white sugar shriek of Kettle Corn; oh, my aching head.
  • Post #8 - November 23rd, 2004, 3:12 pm
    Post #8 - November 23rd, 2004, 3:12 pm Post #8 - November 23rd, 2004, 3:12 pm
    I glazed over a little on the hedonism sermon, but...

    I think CG is right that it's been a staple at fairs and the like. I can remember it as a kid. We even have a kettle corn maker often at the Portland Farmer's Market.

    Of course, basing an opinion of a thing on its mass-produced or microwave version is totally unfair. Imagine if everyone based their opinion of Chicago deep dish on Godfather's Pizza. Plus, items like this can be so much better when made fresh. Think of the churros at Maxwell Street as compared with the ones sitting in a case for hours at some panaderia.

    Why don't you sneak food into the theater like the rest of us? When I was a kid, I could get two bags of Doritos and 2 liters of Mt. Dew in just by wearing a big coat. Now it's pistachios and Aquafina and the occasional pastrami on rye, but....
  • Post #9 - November 23rd, 2004, 5:07 pm
    Post #9 - November 23rd, 2004, 5:07 pm Post #9 - November 23rd, 2004, 5:07 pm
    Anyone who does not bring his own treats to the movies gets what he deserves...bad treats at high prices. I have long ago learned that I have a responsibility to myself and my guests to bring our own treats to the theatre!

    Phil Simborg
  • Post #10 - November 23rd, 2004, 7:42 pm
    Post #10 - November 23rd, 2004, 7:42 pm Post #10 - November 23rd, 2004, 7:42 pm
    Phil Simborg wrote:Anyone who does not bring his own treats to the movies gets what he deserves...bad treats at high prices. I have long ago learned that I have a responsibility to myself and my guests to bring our own treats to the theatre!

    Though the ethics of breaking the "carry-in" policy of movie theaters is another matter, I cannot help but admire your dedication to snacking solidarity. I salute you, sir!

    --Dan
  • Post #11 - November 24th, 2004, 12:48 am
    Post #11 - November 24th, 2004, 12:48 am Post #11 - November 24th, 2004, 12:48 am
    The question of ethics is and has always been a matter of price...in otherwords, "everyone has their price." My price is not paying $30 for snacks for me and my kids after paying $25 to get in!

    Phil
  • Post #12 - November 24th, 2004, 12:55 am
    Post #12 - November 24th, 2004, 12:55 am Post #12 - November 24th, 2004, 12:55 am
    Phil Simborg wrote:The question of ethics is and has always been a matter of price...in otherwords, "everyone has their price." My price is not paying $30 for snacks for me and my kids after paying $25 to get in!

    Phil


    I guess we're in agreement. I'm not seeing the ethical dimension at all. The theater wants to squeeze an extra (and usually large) percentage of the ticket price out of every customer, so they make a rule that, as you say, is based strictly on profit motive (nothing wrong with that, but nothing really "ethical" either). Frankly though, I'm too lazy to bring my own treats, so I use the theater-going experience as an opportunity to indulge in over-priced Goobers and Dots.

    Hammond
  • Post #13 - November 24th, 2004, 1:05 am
    Post #13 - November 24th, 2004, 1:05 am Post #13 - November 24th, 2004, 1:05 am
    Sneak in some Larvets,Mr. Hammond.
  • Post #14 - November 24th, 2004, 1:07 am
    Post #14 - November 24th, 2004, 1:07 am Post #14 - November 24th, 2004, 1:07 am
    hattyn wrote:Sneak in some Larvets,Mr. Hammond.


    hattyn,

    See, I think that would be even less of an ethical question because most would not even consider Larvets food. :lol:

    Hammond
  • Post #15 - November 24th, 2004, 1:36 am
    Post #15 - November 24th, 2004, 1:36 am Post #15 - November 24th, 2004, 1:36 am
    David Hammond wrote:I guess we're in agreement. I'm not seeing the ethical dimension at all. The theater wants to squeeze an extra (and usually large) percentage of the ticket price out of every customer, so they make a rule that, as you say, is based strictly on profit motive (nothing wrong with that, but nothing really "ethical" either).

    Whether you see an ethical dimension probably hinges on your view of whether the need to follow an establishment's rules is negated by a high cost, monetary or otherwise. I guess the issue falls along similar lines to those surrounding the sharing of music and movie files: if the price (and other assorted restrictions) of CDs and DVDs is higher than what I'm willing to pay (fairness and profit motive aside), does that mean it's okay for me to obtain a copy through illegal means -- breaking the rules, so to speak?

    Some would say we should not follow any unenforceable law or rule that seems unfair, but that's where I think the ethical quandary begins. As one of those Matrix flicks was fond of saying, "The problem is choice." Is it ethical to charge such high prices, and is it ethical for me to make use of the theater's services while not respecting their rules (their terms of service)? Do I have no other (legal) means to meeting my entertainment and dining needs?

    Yeah, this is a hot potato of a topic (especially on a public message board), but I felt compelled to respond. Is ethics always a matter of price? I would hope not. As for the Larvets, I think I'll leave that up to the management.

    --Dan
  • Post #16 - November 24th, 2004, 2:10 am
    Post #16 - November 24th, 2004, 2:10 am Post #16 - November 24th, 2004, 2:10 am
    There are laws and there are laws. I think it is wrong to break the law and kill someone. I think it is fine to bring your own treats against the theatre rules. Each must decide whether or not he believes a law justified and if he is willing to risk the consequences of getting caught breaking the law. I like to live on the edge and bring my own treats. Call me an adventurer, I don't care!
  • Post #17 - November 24th, 2004, 2:18 am
    Post #17 - November 24th, 2004, 2:18 am Post #17 - November 24th, 2004, 2:18 am
    As I understand them (and I'm no lawyer), laws are created by governments and other legal authorities (including God?), while rules are set up (and set aside) by individuals, businesses, and groups. We could go further and add things like taboos (such as sexual mores), which cultures may more or less follow and adopt, though there are always exceptions (which could finally bring us back to the topic that kind of started this whole thread). I just think that we should basically follow the rules of the groups we're a part of, and if we cannot follow or change the rules (or utterly demolish the group to start another -- gotta love revolutions), then we should no longer remain a party to that group (watch a movie at another theater or at home, for instance).

    Here's what I hope is a relevant example: moderation rules at an online forum (like, say, a certain food site we all know and love) are found to be too restrictive for certain regular users. The users in questions could keep their heads down and follow the rules set out by management, decide to continue to flout the group or moderator's rules (in spite or due to loyalty... or both), seek to reform the original outlet in their own image (viva la France!), or set out to form their own group with more agreeable restrictions and recommendations. Of course, you could completely tune out, and, say, stop watching any movies in theaters altogether, but most people try to find some happy compromise.

    In the case of food and movies, if a theater does not offer anything you can eat (due to religious reasons or convictions of conscience), I don't believe that means you can force your way in with restricted goods, as your attendance at said private establishment is basically voluntary and unforced. I don't believe it's discriminatory (like, say, the seating of colored people at the back of buses), as everyone's welcome to come watch a movie. The option of bringing in outside food is simply not allowed. No one HAS to eat in a theater (the next Lord of the Rings marathon could be an exception), save those who medically require it. I would have to defer to other legal experts on what rules diabetics can break to maintain their blood-sugar levels (I imagine most would allow you to live), but I don't believe personal preferences (and not medical requirements) are required to be accommodated by any private practice. Whether that makes business sense or not is another matter.

    --Dan
    Last edited by fastfoodsnob on November 24th, 2004, 2:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #18 - November 24th, 2004, 2:27 am
    Post #18 - November 24th, 2004, 2:27 am Post #18 - November 24th, 2004, 2:27 am
    My feeling is that as long as I'm bringing in something that can't be purchased at the theater, they can stuff it.

    Until they'll start selling jalapeno krunchers and lemon drops, with high quality root beer or ginger beer to wash it down with, I'll continue to sneak stuff in from time to time.

    If they catch me, they can refuse to let me in, and I'll willingly comply with that... but until then, these pockets are made for stuffin'.

    -ed
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #19 - November 24th, 2004, 2:35 am
    Post #19 - November 24th, 2004, 2:35 am Post #19 - November 24th, 2004, 2:35 am
    gleam wrote:Until they'll start selling jalapeno krunchers...

    That would be a beautiful day (sniff). However, in order to save money, I'd still probably stick with buying those chips in stores to avoid the theater markup (and, of course, eat them outside of the theater). Now if they offered those smaller bags for 25 cents each at the concessions stand, I'd be in the market for some of those before my next movie.
  • Post #20 - November 24th, 2004, 10:37 am
    Post #20 - November 24th, 2004, 10:37 am Post #20 - November 24th, 2004, 10:37 am
    Is ethics always a matter of price? I would hope not.



    When ETHICAL behavior is just a matter of dollars (I'd never do it for this price but I'll do it for that price), it's not a question of whether or not you're a prostitute, just how high your rates are.
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #21 - November 24th, 2004, 10:45 am
    Post #21 - November 24th, 2004, 10:45 am Post #21 - November 24th, 2004, 10:45 am
    If they catch me, they can refuse to let me in, and I'll willingly comply with that... but until then, these pockets are made for stuffin'.



    I'm with you ed, beef jerky and cold beer are may personal favorites.

    JSM
  • Post #22 - November 24th, 2004, 10:58 am
    Post #22 - November 24th, 2004, 10:58 am Post #22 - November 24th, 2004, 10:58 am
    Here's my first and last thought on the topic: ethics are (with limited exceptions not raised here) strangers to contract, and the movie patron's relationship to the movie theatre in the scenario above is contractual. In exchange for your hard earned money and your implicit promise to abide by the rules, the movie house provides you with a reasonably safe, warm, dark room, a seat and a view to a motion picture. If you break the rules, and if the movie theatre does not, and if the movie theatre catches you, the movie theatre's performance is excused and you are likely back on the sidewalk, status quo ex ante.

    Ethics and public policy might play a role in some discussion of the formation of the contract; viz, to argue that the contract does not exist because it was not legally formed. That is, if the movie patron is incompetent by reason of infancy or mental disability, or if the movie theatre can impose unconscionable terms on the moviegoer through duress, then the law will step in and vitiate the agreement.

    Good luck with the argument that you just had to see Sponge Bob and you had to see it while eating KFC.

    I don't make this stuff up, I just live it.
    Last edited by JeffB on November 24th, 2004, 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #23 - November 24th, 2004, 10:58 am
    Post #23 - November 24th, 2004, 10:58 am Post #23 - November 24th, 2004, 10:58 am
    I just love it when people talk in "absolutes" about morality, right and wrong, following laws, etc. Anyone who has ever studied the subject carefully (as I have) knows that the subject is full of gray areas. If everyone always followed the laws there would have been no revolutions. There would be no United States. Blacks would still not be voting and would still be sitting in the back of the bus.

    Many laws and rules are unfair and unreasonable, and all individuals have a responsibility and right to decide which ones to follow and which ones to break and be willing to pay the price and live up to their decisions. And people who tell others what is wrong or right follow a very slippery slope.

    Phil Simborg
  • Post #24 - November 24th, 2004, 11:31 am
    Post #24 - November 24th, 2004, 11:31 am Post #24 - November 24th, 2004, 11:31 am
    I find the easiest way to sneak food into a theater is in my stomach. Alas, this movie was at 11 in the morning, so a bit early for lunch.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #25 - May 12th, 2015, 10:41 am
    Post #25 - May 12th, 2015, 10:41 am Post #25 - May 12th, 2015, 10:41 am
    Moviegoing is most associated with one dietary indulgence: buttery popcorn, served up by a bored teenager filling tub after tub. Now, some entrepreneurs want to fit the entire food pyramid into the multiplex.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/movie-treat ... 1431382016
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin

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