Motion (Picture) Sickness

I’m sick of all this puking in movies and TV. 

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It’s become pandemic. You can’t watch a movie or turn on a TV show without somebody hurling on-screen. And it keeps getting worse — in frequency and intensity.

I did an online search for vomiting in movies and TV and turned up dozens of articles — many of them written by critics — complaining about gratuitous and excessive vomiting in popular entertainment. They’ve been griping about it for at least 15 years and all the critics seemed to agree that it’s becoming more prevalent.

In a 2010 article Anne Billson wrote in The Guardian that the taboo against explicit on-screen vomiting was first breached in the 1953 film “The Wages of Fear.”

Billson said the “barf gates” really opened in the 1970s, most notably with pea soup projectile vomiting in “The Exorcist.”

Things went downhill from there. Thirty years later, Monte Python’s “The Meaning of Life” further pushed the envelope when the humongous Mr. Creosote flooded a fancy restaurant with vomit. (Legend has it the scene required 9,000 gallons of fake puke.)

In the article, Billman lamented that it would only be a matter of time before actors were throwing up in 3D.

In March of this year, New York Times TV critic Neil Genzlinger complained that on-screen vomiting had become a TV cliché “that deserves to die.”

Genzlinger indicated that, unlike other obsolete taboos such as sex and violence, puking generally does nothing to further plots or reveal the essence of characters.

Apparently on-screen puking isn’t just for the unwashed masses. In 2007 Joe Queenan wrote in The Guardian about an experiment he conducted. He rented five videos at random, watched them with his family and all but one had vomiting scenes.

“So there you have it,” Queenan concluded. “They’re puking in award-winning Franco-Algerian Films, they’re puking in mainstream animated films, they’re puking in Steven Soderbergh films, they’re puking in Korean horror movies, they’re puking in spellbinding indie features about enigmatic rock stars, and now they’re even puking in iconoclastic TV series.”

Not just the critics are saying, “Enough already!”

My online search turned up scores of discussion threads on the topic and even a Facebook page called “There’s Too Much Vomiting on TV Nowadays.”

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In a 2013 online discussion, participants talked about their struggle with emetophobia, the fear of vomit or vomiting. They bitterly complained that they could no longer enjoy movies or TV because of all the puking.

Had I been a part of the conversation, I would have added that it’s not so much a fear of puke; I just don’t want to see it. I have two kids — now adults — and a houseful of cats and dogs. There’s more than enough puke in my life already.

Who’s to blame? We are. We keep watching this dreck.

While we’re in mea culpa mode, I have to take at least some of the blame for puking in the movies.

When I was young, my friends and I sometimes went to the Garden Theater on the near West Side of Cleveland. It was the only movie theater in town still showing serials along with the Saturday matinee.

The entertainment was stale and so were the refreshments. Long story short, while sitting in the back row, I did my Mr. Creosote impression.

What followed can best be described as the parting of the Red Sea in super slow motion. Row by row, the people in the seats directly in front of us got up and scurried for the exits.

It was far more entertaining than what was on the screen.

If they make a movie about my life, I’m going to ask that they omit that scene.

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