Novelty salt and pepper shakers tend to be cute–that is, they represent the objects and animals and people they depict as harmless and adorable, as innocently jolly residents or cheerful artefacts of a blissfully utopian world where the sun always seems to be shining and there is no pain and no angst and no taxes. I’ll say more about the implications of this cuteness in a later post. Meanwhile, there’s this shaker:
It seems, on first glance, to be the essence of cuteness, a jolly little fellow or gal who could compete with the Happy Face face for the Miss Congeniality title, if he or she only had a mouth to smile with. But things get a little confusing when you view this shaker alongside the other in its set:
With the two holes that imply cute little round eyes replaced by its partner’s three holes, the effect of eyeness disappears–it’s not exactly cute anymore, but more like a surrealistic Picasso version of cuteness, a cute face with a gunshot wound, perhaps, or a face on the way into plastic surgery. Just what’s going on here anyway? The answer appears as the shakers are placed properly on the tray that accompanies them:
Not faces at all, it seems. Breasts. Detachable breasts that detach from a body with no head and no arms. The ultimate realization of mid-Victorian or early adolescent male fantasies about the ideal woman with breasts like weather balloons, the always available bolster cushion that doesn’t ever talk or complain or say “No” and who just lies there and does it for the Empire? It’s the ultimate no-fuss collection of usefully and conveniently separable body parts. It’s the ultimate expression of breast fetishism. It is, I think, the most disturbing slat-and-pepper set I have in my collection. Looking at it too much could give you nightmares. Thinking about it too much could turn even the Hugh-Hefner-approved version of a playboy into a feminist. Or maybe a serial rapist. I mean more of a serial rapist.
And what are we to make of people who might actually enjoy providing themselves with salt and pepper by means of detachable breasts? It puts a whole new light on the idea of seasoning.
I am sorry to report that my collection includes other amputated body parts and more armless and headless female torsos. More, inevitably, about those later.