A hatch opened up somewhere way down inside and a high-pressure fountain of red and yellow sprayed forth into the basin, oozing down its sides and swirling into the water below. While I vomited with all my strength, and with a sound halfway between a frog’s “ribbit” and a lion’s “roar,” at the back of my mind I thought: “This is despicable — but also kinda, sorta funny.”
I mean, if someone with the right sense of humour was watching me heave (eight cans of Lucky Lager and a half digested pancake) into the proverbial “big white telephone” they might actually be enjoying it, right? Sure they would!
Now, I don’t usually indulge in this kind of analysis but ’tis the season for musings on the carnal, the bizarre, the horrible and the gross. At this time of year we ask ourselves: Where do these fascinations come from? What is their purpose? Are we simply laughing at the misery of others? What the Germans call “Schadenfreude.” Yet, it seems to me that with the fascination of the gross, there is something more complicated going on.
In Stephen King’s short story, “The Body” — later adapted into the film Stand By Me — one of the most monstrous and genius depictions of projectile vomiting resides. The story within the story is simply named “The Revenge of Lard Ass Hogan.” In it the main character masterminds a plot to projectile vomit all over the local town’s people. It seems they’ve been teasing him about his weight while simultaneously pressuring him into winning the annual pie-eating contest. One instance of projectile vomit sparks another and so forth.
King admits that when he can’t create something horrifying he will go for the gross out. He claims that he’s “not proud” of it but I don’t really believe him. He’s simply too good at it.
Perhaps it’s the experience of feeling simultaneously drawn-in and pushed away that we desire. It’s a tug-of-war with rival emotions that results in something utterly irrational. In this hard-hitting emotional chaos we are lifted out of our everyday sober thinking into carnival-like depravity.
This year we can get our cheap thrills from Jackass 3D. Steve-O’s bungee-jump whilst strapped into an outhouse — in 3D! — takes the gross out factor to its logical conclusion. If not Jackass, than you can always make your way into the back catalogue of horror and comedy films which have embraced the throw-up. From the “wafer thin” scene in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life to The Exorcist’s split-pea soup, there’s ample barf to get you through the season and beyond!