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Movies have long taught us that if a woman can kill a man on the battlefield, she can also do it in the kitchen. Remember Eowyn from The Two Towers, the Rohan noblewoman who goes up to the Witch-king of Angmar (the Lord of the Nazgul) and stabs him in the face? Yeah, earlier in the extended edition of the movie, she actually tries to seduce Aragorn with a bowl of stew so disgusting, he waits but two seconds before trying to throw it away, and this is a man who has effectively been homeless most of his life.
New Line Cinema
Making him the only hobo in history to turn down free soup.
But to be fair, in the last couple of decades writers have been steering away from the "strong women can't cook" stereotype ... while at the same time replacing it with an even stupider one. The new cliche suggests that tough ladies are like some bizarre, unclassified species beyond the understanding of normal humans, and the best way to show it is by giving those women some crazy cravings.
The cliche seems to have first started in 1976 with Laverne & Shirley, a spinoff of Happy Days about what would happen if Richie and Fonzie were female roommates with smoldering sexual tension between them. Laverne De Fazio is the tough tomboy of the duo, which you can tell not by her cynicism or implied promiscuity, but by the fact that she loves drinking a mixture of milk and Pepsi.
CBS Television Distribution
A concoction most befitting a grotesque monster sporting both self-esteem AND a vagina.
Next came The Breakfast Club (1985) with Allison Reynolds, the "basket case" of the group: Allison takes no shit from anyone, is confrontational, and even self-harms, so of course she must enjoy sandwiches with sugar and cereal instead of meat.
Meat is murder, but I still don't like it.
The trend was quickly picked up by Power Rangers in the 1993 episode The Rockstar, where the ass-kicking Yellow Ranger tries to feed the group her homemade brownies with snails baked into them. This isn't part of some comical misunderstanding, by the way. She knows exactly what those treats are but feels like giving them a chance anyway, because as a fictional female character that can kick your ass, she is a grotesque freak.
But if you want to see the "treating strong women like aliens" cliche taken to its most extreme conclusion, look no further than Starfire: an actual alien with the power of flight, super strength, and energy projections. Comic book fans may remember her as one of DC's most prominent fap fodder, but if you've watched the Teen Titans cartoon, you probably know Starfire as a caring, courageous young woman ... who enjoys drinking mustard and eating flies ...
Why do I know that a porn version of this exact scene already exists somewhere?
Now that I think about it, though, if the show really wanted to hammer in that Starfire is something other than human, they should have made her a vegetarian, seeing as ...
Monkey Business Images/Monkey Business/Getty Images
Can you imagine anything more horrific than eating human flesh? Actually, if you were a Hollywood scriptwriter, you'd probably answer "Yes! Eating plants!" while flailing your arms and making "Wooo-ooo!" noises.
It was most likely Mary Shelley who kick-started the cliche of mixing monsters and vegetables way back in 1818 with the publication of Frankenstein, where the famed monster is actually portrayed as being vegetarian. In Chapter 17 of the book, he outright says: "I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment." Movies eventually followed Shelley's example with Troll 2 (1990), a movie about goblins (and the importance of thinking your titles through) who eat people after first turning them into plants.
"Transformations" of sorts also play a major role with the monstrous and vegetable-crazy Were-Rabbit in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, or in an episode of Dexter's Laboratory where Dexter turns into a vegetarian parody of the Hulk.
So ... who exactly decided that not slaughtering animals for nourishment was suddenly a monstrous/evil trait? Well, in some cases, it might have something to do with making the villain the total opposite of the protagonist. Movie heroes have often been unintentional parodies of "manliness," so it'd make sense for villains to be their exact opposite: fragile, brainy, and vegetarian.
In Demolition Man (1993), for example, one of the villains is Raymond Cocteau, an elderly man who has taken over the combined mega-city of L.A. and San Diego while outlawing the consumption of meat, smoking, drinking, and sex, ironically fucking over a large number of the population who happen to enjoy those things, often at the same time. He's also the one who releases Wesley Snipes' character from cryogenic sleep and has him wreak havoc on the city, looking for the leader of a resistance movement fighting against Cocteau.
Cocteau actually shares a lot of similarities with the deranged President of the United States in Escape from L.A. (1996), who also outlaws all vices -- including red meat -- and tries to take over the world by first sending a badass action hero (Snake Plissken) after the leader of a resistance movement. (I just realized that Escape from L.A. is a blatant rip-off of Demolition Man.) A more lighthearted example of this cliche might be Evil Ex #3 from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, who has obtained otherworldly powers of telepathy and telekinesis thanks to his vegan diet.
Finally, seeing as today his primary diet consists of nothing but cookies and fruit, technically speaking, Sesame Street's Cookie MONSTER is vegetarian, so ... that's half a point maybe?
"C" is for "Cookie"! "D" is for "Deforestation of the Amazon"!
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a freelance Cracked columnist and editor. Check out his writing for The Huffington Post here.