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Tomato vs. Book vs. Fiction vs. Farce
A Gander Into Farce

Tomato vs. Book vs. Fiction vs. Farce
  • The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope; Vo... (by )
  • A Modest Proposal (by )
  • Gulliver's Travels (by )
  • Don Quixote (by )
  • The Satyricon (by )
  • Candide (by )
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A peanut gallery was, in the days of vaudeville, a nickname for the cheapest (and ostensibly rowdiest) seats in the theater, the occupants of which were often known to heckle.

The least expensive snack served at the theatre would often be peanuts, which the patrons would sometimes throw at the performers on stage to convey their disapproval. The phrases "no comments from the peanut gallery" or "quiet in the peanut gallery" are extensions of the name.

In 1943 the Howdy Doody children's radio show adopted the name to represent its audience of children. Howdy Doody is most remembered for its later transition to television, which continued the Peanut Gallery audience, now on camera.

It is thought that rotten tomatoes have always been the choice projectile to hurl at bad theatre productions. It makes sense, as they fit snugly in the palm like a baseball, they are equally hard and soft, guaranteed to fly true and gush upon impact, and they spew red, a highly visible and evocative color.

In fact, the tomato seems to have nearly missed the theatre heyday completely. Audiences instead were known to have thrown trash, produce other than the tomato, eggs, and peanuts, from which sprung the peanut gallery. Although the tomato travelled over from Central and South America to Europe in the 16th century, it took another 200 years for the first recorded tomato chucking, in 1883 The New York Times reported in an article headlined, An Actor Demoralized by Tomatoes, “[…] a large tomato thrown from the gallery struck him square between the eyes, and he fell to the stage floor […]”

Today, tomato thrower’s numbers remain between few to none. Indeed, nearly all throwing of produce has steered close to a dull nil.
Tomato vs. Fiction
Tomato vs. Fiction
Life is chaos, fiction is ordered chaos, but the tomato is a physical object of truth. The tomato has stuck around despite the smear campaign of the 16th century where people deemed it poisonous, and it has even survived the more inventive and insidious smear of the late 19th century to split its identity between vegetable and fruit (a fruit botanically speaking, and a vegetable in everyday life was the ruling).

With these hot debates behind us, I propose we finally bring the tomato to the limelight. Let the tomato reign as critic once and for all.
Fiction vs. Facts
Fiction vs. Facts
It’s hard to tell in this post-modern, feeling-filled, conspiracy-driven, meta-loving, gut-centered, paid-performer, reality-on-reality-within-reality reality what is the real story and what is play. While we decide which truths to collage, a smokescreen is created for the ‘artist’ to churn out more garbage and not call it content. We return to our old literature and what was once true to us now reads hollow. This is part of the new show, the non-reality reality, the battle between fiction fact and farce for who gets the most views. 

(Further questions to consider: What is good, what is bad, and what about personal feelings? What is projection, what is farce, what is rhetoric, what is belief, delusion, fact? Can a satire be a satire of itself, an insular, self-referential universe that obstructs all outside commentary? What is runaround, what does a satirical reality reveal about the classic satires?) 

Facts vs. Farce
Facts vs. Farce
In this struggle to squeeze any sort of understanding out of a book, words are given a bad reputation. They are used like a mote, to save one from the invaders who would plunder facts from them, the basis of their performance.

Enter stage left, tomato.

Authors who jockey around five repeated plots like talking points, to them give the fact of the tomato in the face, straight from the Aztecs. To those authors who would rebel anarchically from words and meanings of words, rain upon them the fact of the tomato, over 10,000 varieties. 

Let us take back the literature. Remember the honest words of Jonathan Swift in A Modest Proposal. Let’s retell the clear-cut stories of Don Quixote.  From Voltaire’s Candide, we can learn to tell a true and accurate story of your day. And to all books not of the straight and true vein, a tomato in the face is the cure.

By Thad Higa

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