On Pigs and “Margot at the Wedding”
I’m going to have to add "Films" to my categories, although that would involve some serious backtracking to reorganize and label everything correctly. I watched "Margot at the Wedding" on my computer while the guests were watching golf on the television (yes, we have only one). It’s about a dysfunctional family, which I guess is redundant, and it has some funny moments and some poignant moments, but here’s what irked me to no end: a trite usage of pig as metaphor.
The neighbors in this lower-end, waterside Block Island/Nantucket/Hamptons-ish community, the Voglers, are painted as right out of "Deliverance." They’re surly. They’re savages. They’re barbaric. They’re naked a lot. And they do an odd ritual around the slaughtering of a pig (or an already slaughtered pig–I couldn’t tell). They gut the pig and then . . . . horror of horrors . . . . they cook him on a spit and eat him. And then . . . . then . . . . a pig hoof shows up in the garbage that Jack Black is cleaning up, I guess to remind him of the savages who live next door.
So the family with the bully of a child who bites another child on the neck after taunting and chasing him, is composed of the kind of people who would actually hunt, kill, gut and eat a pig. (Oh, and of course it’s a pig, as their house is a mess and you are made to believe they’re filthy people.)
The message? The uncivilized people who are stupid, dirty and classless not only eat pigs (appropriately), but they’re disgusting enough to take part in the gutting and they cook the pit whole on a spit. When Jack Black finds the pig hoof, he doesn’t react as if he found a chicken wing. A pig hoof–now that’s creepy and gives one pause.
I know a little about screenwriting and I guess what I’d like to see is the retiring of the pig cliche. Perpetuating the myth that pigs are filthy and consistently associating them with savages seems lazy and unimaginative, not to mention unjust and inaccurate.
To heap on the cliches, the civilized, cultured people have a dog named Wizard (and when he’s missing they’re frantic), and when several of them are driving at night and pass a woman whose dog was hit by a car, they help her by taking her to a vet and even paying her expenses (she didn’t have a purse with her). Part of being refined is being associated with domesticated animals, and wanting to help them. The juxtaposition was no surprise.
I look forward to the day we put the stereotypes to rest and appreciate nonhuman animals for who they are, rather than what we’ve decided they represent.