The short film we watched in class, “The Social Life of Tomatoes”, uses the journey of one tomato to identify the similarities and differences between human beings and some of our social constructions, as well as to place major class divisions into context. The film follows one tomato from a field, where it is tended by the Japanese man, Mr. Suzuki, to a supermarket, where it is purchased by a woman who throws it in the garbage. It is then taken to a trash heap on the Island of Flowers, where it is meant to be fed to pigs. The pig’s owner decides that it is unfit for pigs, and it is then thrown in a pile where poor women and children are free to scavenge it to eat themselves.
The beginning of the film has a light tone, and finds connections between such topics as opposable thumbs, whales, and money. There is also a stress on religion, identifying Jews and Roman Catholics. However, by the end, it is obvious that this film has a more serious message. It uses satire to stress the major class divisions, such as the woman who sells perfume to buy food from the supermarket for her family, and the woman and children who line up to gather food which was rejected as pig food. The film also uses serious images, such as footage from concentration camps.
“The Social Life ofTomatoes” shows how an everyday item or concept can be connected to countless other items and concepts. This can be used as an exercise to open our eyes when considering our research projects. Sometimes, important connections can be made where we least expect them.