Well, it’s happening again. Life is imitating art in absurdly creepy ways.
In high school, my pal John and I would get together and watch terrible sci-fi movies whilst gorging ourselves on “Six Foot Under-dogs”. Soylent Green was one of those movies. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it. It’s a classic. But whether you’ve seen it or not, you probably know Charlton Heston’s famous line, “It’s people! Soylent Green is made out of people!”
The film is set in an overpopulated future where women are regarded as furniture and food is less abundant than desirable. Charlton Heston’s character is a detective who has been tipped off to the mysterious origin of the government’s newest food supply, Soylent Green. In the course of his investigation, Heston follows his friend to one of the city’s many voluntary euthanization centers. Of course, he discovers that these centers are little more than glorified slaughterhouses that supply the main ingredient for Soylent Green.
If I just ruined the film for you, I apologize. But, if you know that famous line, you already know the surprise ending, so I don’t think I’ve ruined much.
Anyway, what does this have to do with life imitating art? Because Soylent is soon to be commercially available.
Sure, it may not be the “made out of people” variety that is so famous, but is food and you can buy it soon. Really, it is more of a drink than food, but it still counts. According to the NPR story where I first learned about Soylent, it was created by a busy thirtysomething who hated wasting time on preparing and eating food, so he made a kind of shake that fits the body’s basic needs. After its creation, he got some investors interested in producing the product on a large-scale.
Buy why name it “Soylent” when people will strongly associate that word with cannibalism?
I think the name is genius. It has a built-in marketing strategy. I mean, the only reason I read the original article is because it said that Soylent was food that people would soon be able to buy. I read it right away because it piqued my interest. I needed to know whether it was a joke or not and whether cadavers were actually becoming food. The name was the hook that drew me in. And no one is really going to think that it contains dead bodies in real life, right?
If you think about it, this isn’t that different from the formula that we already give to babies. True, formula isn’t as good for babies as breast milk, but that doesn’t stop millions of people from feeding it exclusively to babies until they are old enough to start eating mushy baby food. Soylent is kind of like formula for adults, although that isn’t a very appetizing thought. Though it is more appetizing than if it were made of people.
What are your thoughts on the name? Do you wish you didn’t have to eat or prepare meals?