Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Don Juan Rotisserie Chicken

Though best known as a seducer and a dueler, a libertine and a rake, Don Juan had a later career (apparently) as a professional victim. The cape, the hat, the rapier: here, but props. Empty, and mocking for their emptiness.

And see what the Don Juan Rotisserie Chicken company has done!

They have transformed a legendary figure ruled by his passions—for women, for conquest, for sheer bloody-minded selfishness—into a chicken.

A chicken ruled by the one grand anti-passion: the feverish desire to die. In his case, to be impaled and cooked, slowly unfurling the mortal coil and enfolding himself in a shroud of his own crisp skin.

(Are we meant to read into the logo—with its searing orange backdrop—the cautionary tale of Don Juan's encounter with the graveyard statue? The statue who came to life, grabbed Don Juan, and took him to Hell? Don Juan the chicken is extending his hand, all but begging to be dragged into his own Hell!)

When the most alive among us, the outrageous, the bold, the proud, the dangerous, are reduced to inert examples of self-denial, what hope have we got? When the example of a life apart, a life freed from the constraints of society, of propriety, of lawfulness, even of sense itself, is turned on its head, do we laugh? Weep? Or stumble numbly into a world we no longer recognize?

Or do we chuck it all and eat some dead birds?

(Painting: Max Slevogt, 1912.)

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