Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently emailed Fortune magazine with the news that this year he is undertaking a personal quest to eat only meat that he kills himself. As of this writing, he’s reportedly axed a chicken, a pig, a goat, and – in a particularly Woody Allenesque gesture – a lobster, the last of which was “boiled alive.”
Zuckerberg packages his slayage as a brand of gastronomical “gratitude” that is linked to whole-foodist-cum-low-carbon-footprinty aspirations. Most of the (acidic, hilarious) commentary has matched this reading of Z’s “me kill, me eat” carnilosophy, and has taken him to task for being a bad vegetarian. Laurel Miller of Huffpost Food accuses Z of being a possibly unhinged throat-slasher of baby livestock. Lynn Crosbie of the Globe and Mail accuses him of “gross eco-crimes.”
But I think that the main thrust, so to speak, of Z’s enthusiasm for garroting hens and porcinicide is that we all understand that he is A Real Man. He’s not the little thumbsucker that screenwriter Aaron Sorkin said couldn’t get into a Harvard finals club in The Social Network! He’s not the creepy freako who got shot down by the lawyer played by Rashida Jones! No! His muscles shine as he dashes through the woods after his prey! He’s covered in blood! He’s roaring at the moon after feasting on the still-beating heart of a boar! Rashida is hungrily quivering next to him dressed in nothing but a badger skin, her bosoms heaving as she murmurs “You so sexy, Z!”
“Ya’ eat what ya’ kill, kid,” is a golden rule that grisly old Masters of the Universes like to spew to their shuddering little underlings in investment banks and law firms, and the image that they intend to convey is not of Diane Keaton cackling as Woody wiggishly minces around a snapping horde of crustaceans (Annie Hall!). The desired implication instead is of a swinging-dickesque Captain Schwarzenegger thug who magically maintains a psychotic level of masculinity while blathering on a phone all day.
And, hey, I almost understand. If a) I were a dude and b) I’d had said masculinity profoundly shivved by Jesse Eisenberg, perhaps I’d be hankering to bust a cap in a lobster’s ass, too. Hell, ok, even as a female, I’m frustrated. Authentic Studly Awesomeness is difficult enough to maintain as it is, with all of us sitting at our computers for so long that we’re developing duck butts and frighteningly agile typing skills. Also, when even our #1 role model for stupid machohood, Arnold himself, is now coming Charlie Sheenishly close to a sex addiction diagnosis, it’s hard to know where to look for guidance. It’s time, we think, to Get Back to Basics. The Cave. The Fire. The glittering sword. Good! Evil! Man! Nature! You know, The Lord of the Rings.
Stay with me, here. Yes, I do mean The Lord of the Rings. Because the one person I’ve ever read about who can pull this kill-eat crap off is Viggo Mortensen, who played Strider in the film. In the Extras discs of TLOTR there are these absolutely awesome interviews with The Viggo, who – besides admitting to writing poetry, publishing books, singing, playing jazz, and bowling like a champion – says that when he hits little creatures with his car (I don’t know, I guess he’s not a great driver) he likes to take the roadkill and skin it with his big hunting knife and then roast it over an open fire and eat it. Take out your DVDs and look it up. And, yes, of course it makes The Viggo sound crazy when he patiently explains his eco-car crash-diet, but he’s otherwise such a god he makes it sound environmental and niftily colorful. So, get it? Sure, you get to kill-and-eat with impunity – when you are Strider.
Z is not Strider. “I just killed a pig and a goat,” he warbled on his Facebook page on May 4. He also said he wanted to “thank the animals whose lives [he] take[s] in order to eat them.” His friend and chef-neighbor, Jesse Cool, added in an interview, “he cut[s their] throat[s], which is the most kind way to do it.” CNNMoney reports that after the tender mercies, the carcasses get sent off to a butcher, where they get cut up for cooking.
Okay, so, put the machete down, Mr. Z. You obviously just want to kill stuff, and you are coming across as a maybe homicidal maniac. This is why people are making fun of you. I think that you are also playing at being poor, which additionally fits into the hyper masculine/man against the elements fantasy. And, like I said, I get it. It’s hard to be a real person, much less a nonvirtual man, with all of this weird technology – which you helped invent. Also, you are rich and famous and lots of people want to attack you. But coming at your insecurities from this angle is a little like me reacting to having a fight with my boyfriend by Glenn Close-ishly strangling a bunny rabbit and eating its innards for breakfast. Sadly, you are not The Viggo. Sadly, I, also, am not The Viggo. Only Viggo is The Viggo. The rest of us have to go to Ralph’s.
Yxta Maya Murray teaches criminal law, feminist legal theory, and law and literature at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. She is the author of six novels, most recently The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Kidnapped.
*Photo courtesy of deneyterrio