A Certain Point of View
by Elliot Millner
Sausage Party is not easy essay material. The R-rated film features numerous vulgar jokes, sexual innuendos, and profanity. Under its crude shell, however, lies a valuable perspective on the relationship between humanity and the food it consumes. Sausage Party was pitched as a spoof of popular animated movies from Disney and Pixar. The main characters of Sausage Party are foods personified. “People like to project their emotions on to the things around them – their toys, their cars, their pets,” said Seth Rogen, a writer on the film and voice of main protagonist “Frank,” during on stage Q&A about the film. He went on to pose an interesting question saying, “So we thought: ‘What would it be like if our food had feelings?’ We very quickly realized that it would be fucked up,” (Smith, 2016). Rogen’s words are key to understand fully the significance of Sausage Party and its place in the food film landscape. He’s right in that it would be “fucked up” but why and in what ways? Sausage Party illustrates the character that we give to food and the role it plays in human life by showing us that life through food’s own eyes.
How would food view us if it were sentient? According to Sausage Party, we are Gods to food, deeming only the best products worthy to travel from the market to our “Great Beyond.” The food praises us as walking giants with dominion over the world. However, we also hide an ugly truth. Once at home, we murder food in the most violent of ways and with a plethora of tools. The characters in Sausage Party are naïve to this at the beginning of the film. Frank the sausage can’t wait to make it to “The Great Beyond” and finally be with his lover Brenda, a hot dog bun.
The scene that defines the movie as a whole comes about 30 minutes into the film when we follow Frank and Brenda’s friends home from Shopwells the supermarket. The food is giddy with excitement. They are shaking inside their packaging. Light seeps through the windows in an angelic fashion. The landscape of the kitchen glistens with a hint of magic. The music invokes a sense of accomplishment, a long journey come to a glorious end. This is “The Great Beyond.”
“We’re out of the package!” Carl the sausage exclaims.
“This is beautiful!” Barry the sausage says in wonder.
However, the beauty doesn’t last. The woman who has brought them home is ready to prepare them for a meal. She grabs a potato, gently washes it off under some cool water, and then proceeds to cut off his skin. The food is horrified by this display. They begin to scream and run for their lives. The shadows on the woman’s face intensify. The lighting turns a harsh red.
Dooming music plays as the food products run for their lives. Two baby carrots try to jump to safety from the countertop. The film quickly cuts away to the woman’s perspective and all she sees is two baby carrots that are about to be spoiled by the filthy floor and go to waste. So she pops them in her mouth and begins to munch.
“They’re eating children!” Carl screams in horror.
The image that embodies this scene sees Carl and Barry standing in horror at what they are witnessing. The two have just seen the murder of two baby carrots and they can’t believe their eyes. Carl’s eyes widen in fear. Barry’s face grimaces as he looks away. The surrounding food share similar facial expressions. The lighting’s red tone invokes a feeling of danger and chaos.
We’ve never seen cooking from this perspective, where the food’s emotions are given voice. This particular scene and the film as a whole are a commentary on humanity’s place in the world. Are we so savage as the film portrays us? The film treats all food consumption as evil. Meat and vegetables are alive all the same. Although I did not see Sausage Party in theaters, I imagine moviegoers walked out of showings of the film with a strange sense of shame. They most likely questioned their eating habits and looked at their food a little differently once they returned home. Drawing back on Seth Rogen’s words (Smith, 2016), it seems that was the point of this film; to present a scenario that makes us think about what role food plays in our lives and our dominion over it.
Smith, Nigel M. “Seth Rogen’s animated film Sausage Party is provocative food for thought.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 15 Mar. 2016,www.theguardian.com/film/2016/mar/15/sausage-party-seth-rogen-animated-sxsw-film-festival.
Vernon, Conrad and Greg Tiernan, directors. Sausage Party. Columbia Pictures, 2016.