Fisher Price: A Retrospective
Fisher Price is the title of a groundbreaking 21st-century literary work by an unknown author who first published it in November 2005 under the pen name 18.104.22.168. It is considered by many art critics to be one of the greatest literary achievements of our time. At only four words long, this modern classic is also one of the shortest pieces of literature ever written.
"go eat shit fuckers"
Such a sentence seems, at first glance, crass and offensive. However, underneath the words themselves lies a statement of beautiful grammatical ambiguity and meaning. The author of this profound statement, 22.214.171.124, has long been considered one of the greatest writers in the history of modern literature. The depth and meaning of this sentence only cement this reputation and lifts him to new heights of literary esteem. Meanwhile, surrealism is highly prominent in this work. Truly, this sentence is in full accord with René Magritte's famous statement, "Allez manger des merdes baiseurs."
The obvious interpretation
The most literal interpretation of the sentence, from a purely grammatical perspective, would be as an exhortation to "go eat shit, fuckers." It literally requests that the subject of the sentence, fuckers (most likely referring to the reader) engage in the act of eating feces. Given the offensive nature of the idea, this meaning is probably meant both as a warning and as a deterrent by the author — not only to shield the sentence's deeper meanings from less-perceptive readers by providing such a crass and obvious interpretation, but also to warn those readers who do find potential for other meanings that they should not proceed, as the many layers of meaning in the sentence are meant to remain concealed. Additionally, the sentence also hints at the artist's "angst" towards his real or abstract subject, in a manner similar to that of Salvador Dali's depiction of the agony of abstraction in his masterpiece, The Persistence of Memory.
Plea or ironic metaphor?
If "shit" is viewed as meaning feces, then the sentence provides a timely reminder: In a world where plastic waste can be found even on the high seas, neglecting to reduce our consumption to sustainable levels will ultimately require us to consume our own waste. Otherwise, the sentence expresses a commentary on the rise of cheap junk-food ("shit") in contemporary working-class culture.
The cannibalistic interpretation
By simply shifting one's perception of the sentence slightly, a somewhat less obvious interpretation of the sentence may be construed. If grammatically interpreted as "go eat shit-fuckers," the sentence makes a request to the reader; specifically, it requests that the reader participates in a cannibalistic ritual of eating what is presumed to be another human.
To add to this interpretation, there are two possible sub-interpretations which are associated with it as well. The phrase shit fuckers, which appears at the end of the sentence, has both a literal and a derogatory meaning.
Literally, the phrase shit fuckers means, quite clearly, one who engages in the act of coprophilia. In this interpretation, it expresses the author's disdain for this particular act, but also adds a more subtle message which not only reflects on the author but also on his view of the reader. The effects of the message are twofold: First, it implies that while the author has a dislike for coprophilic behavior, he does not feel the same way about cannibalism, which as a societal taboo would normally have a similar stigma attached to it. Second, it adds a touch of insult to the reader, whose prospective victims, or meals, are considered to be coprophiliacs and, post ipso facto, would presumably not be very appetizing.
Alternatively, but still literally, the phrase shit fuckers could be understood to mean people who engage in sexual intercourse (fuckers), but are not very good, or are "shit", at it.
If the phrase is not taken literally, shit fuckers is most easily interpreted as being a simple insult with no literal meaning. In this case, it is, again, a request that the reader consumes other humans, but rather than the aforementioned coprophiliacs, the victims are not a clearly definable group.
"To eat" is a common colloquialism, meaning "to perform oral sex upon." Thus, the reader is requested to go fellate a coprophiliac. This may be seen as a compassionate act, in that we are entreated to empathize those whose sexual proclivities are unconventional, and whom society often shuns as a result. In this simple four-word phrase, we hear the echoes of the words of Jesus: As you would have others do unto you, goest thou and do likewise.
The variant of the above meaning to fellate feces (with the "fuckers" being those in the original interpretation) is often considered but is unpopular due to the lack of external genitalia on feces.
The other two variants of the "shit-fuckers" interpretation (that of those who are bad at sexual intercourse, and the use derogatorily as an insult), are also often considered, but much less.
Considering that this profound meaning comes to us in what seems a crude and offensive direct statement, we are reminded of the tax-collectors and prostitutes with whom Jesus often shared his meals. Many, after all, have entertained angels unaware. Are these "angels" the ones referred to in this seemingly offensive phrase, or is it the shit-fuckers themselves? Woe unto you, because when I was in prison you did not visit me; when I thirsted, you brought me not water to drink; when I was naked, you did not clothe me; and finally: when all the world hated and condemned me for my sexual predilections, you fellated me not. And here, the circle is complete: for Jesus in his glory condemns the "goats" to burn in Hell for eternity. "Go eat shit, fuckers!" indeed — if we will not do it one way, then we shall be condemned to do it the other way.
The Environmental Interpretation
Some Environmental Activists have interpreted the phrase as "Go, eat, shit. Fuckers!" By this interpretation, the author is summarizing the day to day life of a polluter using a chain of three verbs, while expressing backlash toward today's modern ways and those who partake in them. The author opposes modern transportation by the use of the phrase "Go". Pollution produced by vehicles is referred to by the author as being "shit".
The word following "Go" in the phrase is the verb "eat". "Eating" can have many meanings, however, the author's intention is none too clear: Consumerism will lead to the downfall of modern societies. Consuming products results in large quantities of waste. Like pollution from vehicles, the author describes this waste, simply, as "shit".
"Shit", the last word in the sentence, is also the most necessary for proper comprehension. "Shit" is clearly referred to as being the by-product of both the acts of "going" and "eating". The phrase is ended with the derogatory exclamation "Fuckers!" by which the author releases pent-up bitterness, perhaps toward the reader, especially if he or she had partaken in the aforementioned actions.
The newspaper interpretations
Many newspaper headlines eliminate the use of conjunctions to preserve space and prevent ambiguity. In this case, the headline would read "Go eat shit, fuckers" — which has the same punctuation as the first interpretation but carries a different meaning.
The meaning of the sentence in this interpretation is that of a statement to the reader to eat both feces and people (fuckers), amalgamating the meanings of the previous two interpretations. The headline style of this form adds a rather stinging, sarcastic tone to the statement, giving it a feeling of faux urgency and severity.
Alternatively, the work can be read as "Go: eat shit, fuckers". This introduces an enigmatic new character, Go. Nothing is known about Go's life, except for the fact that he was an active proponent of the idea that "fuckers" should "eat shit". The precise meanings of "fuckers" and "eat shit" are discussed elsewhere.
The food interpretation
The fourth meaning that can be tied to the sentence is of a less extreme nature than the others. The element of asking either the reader or another group of people to "eat" remains, but in this form, what should be eaten remains undefined; the sentence could be read as 'go eat, shit fuckers'. It is possible the phrase go eat is simply a euphemism for go away, indicative of the same hostile attitude toward the reader that has been suggested in the other interpretations. Like the cannibalistic interpretation, there are two possible meanings; an insult to the reader, or a suggested activity for coprophiliacs.
An insult to the reader
If the latter two words of the phrase shit fuckers are interpreted as a derogatory comment rather than as a literal description, it can be assumed that the phrase is targeted toward the reader as a direct insult. In this case, assuming the phrase go eat bears the double meaning mentioned above, this interpretation is the most basic, and yet also the most vivid of them all, epitomizing the author's succinct and efficient style of writing.
A statement to coprophiliacs
In an earlier section, the author's disdain for coprophilia was discussed, and it resurfaces again in this form. Following along with the previous interpretation of go eat, this sentence is a simple and direct statement of intolerance for coprophilic behavior. Once again, the efficiency and brief style of writing that is found throughout this work is exemplified here.
This reading parses the sentence as "Go, eat; shit fuckers." This begins with an exhortation to go and eat, and follows with a command to defecate--to defecate not the normal fecal material, but rather procreative beings, "fuckers." It is somewhat unclear whether the author asks the readers to shit fuckers as a way of bringing about more life, or as a curse (knowing that doing so would likely be a painful experience).
A group commanded away, and then dismissed
This reading parses the sentence as "Go! Eat shit! Fuckers." The first is a command to leave, perhaps harkening back to the fall, in which God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Having commanded the unnamed object of the piece of leave, they are dismissed to their faces with the words "eat shit!" before being dismissed again — apparently to another person, perhaps the reader — as nothing more than "fuckers."
A dinner party, surprised
Yet another interpretation would read the sentence as, "Go eat. Shit! Fuckers!" In this reading, the narrator is commanding a group of people to eat (whether the meal is dinner, lunch, breakfast, or even brunch is unspecified, perhaps to enhance suspense). At this point, the narrator cries out in alarm, "Shit!" before revealing what has resulted in his shock and surprise: the aforementioned fuckers.
The phrase could be attributed to an enthusiastic fan of a sports team, named the Fuckers, who play for Eat Shit High School. The phrase might be shouted from an arena full of fans in unison during a game, perhaps multiple times in succession, in order to cheer on their team and hopefully inspire them to victory. "Go Eat Shit Fuckers! Go Eat Shit Fuckers!"
Futility of life
A somewhat more interesting interpretation of the work is it truly shows how pointless existence is. "Go. Eat. Shit. Fuckers." This illustrates the futile and largely meaningless cycle of consumption and expulsion of wastes that one's life can be reduced to, in a minimalistic or even nihilistic sense. This is followed immediately by the author's almost guttural expression of rage at this reductionism, expressed in blatantly primitive, even bestial, exclamations of defiant obscenity. Truly, under this interpretation, the statement deeply resonates as an inspired message unto humanity.
Some scholars have stated that the phrase implies strong overtones of Philosophical Taoism. When reading the same way as suggested above, i.e., "Go. Eat. Shit. Fuckers," the author could be viewed as imploring the reader to do what comes most naturally: To Go with the flow of life as it comes to you. To Eat, or take in, that which surrounds you. To Shit, or let go of that which is without meaning. And finally, the author refers to the readers as Fuckers, which could be taken indirectly as a reference to the bringers of life, since those who partake in the act of procreation are, virtually by definition, fuckers. In four words, the author gives the reader a clear and peaceful path by which to live.
Erroneous Spelling Theory
As illiteracy was rampant during the time that the piece was written, it has been theorized by scholars that the author actually meant to say; "Goat Shi'ite Fuckers" and not "Go Eat Shit Fuckers". A Crusades era Christian author or a Sunni Muslim could have written the statement as propaganda against Shi'ite muslims. Not only are they Shi'ite, but they inherently -as seen in the statement- fuck goats. The thesis here is then, Goat Shi'ite Fuckers = Shi'ites that Fuck Goats.
An alternate interpretation of this theory is that the command was written, not to the Shi'ites, but as an anti-goat diatribe. This could be punctuated as "Goat = Shi'ite Fuckers". The philosophical implications of this interpretation include advocating vegetarianism (or, at least, not eating goats) for Sunni Muslims: that is, goats are ritually unclean from their associations with Shi'ites.
The Alien Theory
In a testament to the author's brilliance and knowledge of diverse subjects, this literary work also references a scientific discovery made in 1977. When Jerry R. Ehman witnessed a startlingly strong signal received by his astronomy class's telescope, he quickly circled the indication on a printout and scribbled the phrase “Wow!” in the margin (shown to the right). This signal, dubbed the Wow! signal, is considered by some to be the most likely candidate from an artificial, extraterrestrial source ever discovered, but it has not been detected again in several additional searches. (Jerry R. Ehman received the class's only A.)
By referencing this occurrence, perhaps the author means to imply that extraterrestrial beings must necessarily be on a higher level of understanding than humans, and again we see the condemnation of humanity so prevalent in this work.
A Comment on Profanity
In colloquial speech, the words "shit" and "fuckers" have both been used in the place of very nondescript nouns. "Shit" can be used to simply mean "stuff," e.g.: "get your shit out of the way." A "fucker" can refer to any type of person, for example: "That stupid fucker hit my car." If we take "shit" to mean "stuff" and "fuckers" to mean "people" then the sentence becomes: Go eat stuff, people. The author seems to be commanding the viewer to go and eat a very commonplace activity. Scholars have suggested that the profanity was used by the author to call attention to the power of language. By using profanity, the author has rendered ordinary life itself obscene and abhorrent.
A Rallying Cry against Anorexia
Expanding upon the more benign interpretations of "shit" as "stuff", and "fuckers" as people, modern linguists have suggested that this time-honoured work of literature could also be an attention-seeking statement against anorexia, reminding "fuckers", or the general maligned anorexic stereotype, to eat "shit", which seems to be an emphatically empathic statement about how disgusting these "fuckers" find food and the notion of eating in general.
A Call to Dinner
Some credit the author with highlighting the importance of the family dinner with the phrase "Go eat, Shit Fuckers!" Interpreted in this way, the phrase depicts that the Fuckers family just sitting down to a peaceful dinner. The Fuckers realize that eating together is the cornerstone of a stable and loving family unit. One member of the Fuckers beckons the child, Shit Fuckers, to join the rest of the family at dinner. This family's repulsive name may indeed be intended to reflect how the quality and nobility of bloodlines has been tarnished over the course of generations, much like how Dante attributed the fall of Florence to the arrival new, "vulgar" families in his Divine Comedy.
Although the context is ambiguous in nature, many conclude that Shit Fuckers is initially resistant. The fact that Shit Fuckers' entire name is used in the plea shows the family is getting agitated at his resistance to joining them. Critics praise the open-ended nature of this passage because it leaves the fate of the Fuckers' dinner uncertain. Indeed, it is up to the reader to decide. Does Shit Fuckers finally "go eat"? Or does he continue to defy his parents' wishes, telling them to "go eat shit"?
The phrase may also a statement against the historical oppression of Vietnamese tribesman by the French. A little-known hill people of northern Vietnam are known as the 'Shit Fuckers' in English, which is a mispronunciation of 'Shi Et Phu Kers'; Meaning "Those Who Eat Savoury Baked Goods On Thursdays and Afterwards Enjoy A Good Pint of Rice Wine From Time To Time". Being a very independent people they were a sore point for the French colonial administration. In order to conquer them, the French employed starvation tactics, depriving them of their sacred Yellow Guava. This causes severe backlash back in France where trade unionists and students marched to the Slogan "Allez Manger, Shi Et Phu Kers".
The Reverse Psychology Interpretation
Another possible interpretation of the phrase "go eat shit fuckers" is "Go, eat shit. Fuckers." While at a glance, this looks similar to the "Group, commanded away, and then dismissed" theory, in reality, the meaning of this interpretation is quite different. In this context, the first sentence "Go, eat shit." is instead of a command to leave, is instead means that the narrator is supposedly allowing the audience to "eat shit". He then turns away and mutters to himself, "Fuckers". The meaning is that although he looks upon coprophagy with disdain (as indicated by his muttering of "Fuckers"), he still seemingly allows them to eat shit. While this seems paradoxical, it makes sense when read aloud: generally, when written with the tone of the sentence in mind, this would read: "Gò. Éat shīt. Fuckers." This sounds condescending, and when looked at this way, the author thus shows his disdain for coprophagy by expressing it in reverse psychology.
While interpretations other than the ones listed in this analysis do exist, the ones that have been described here are most widely accepted by the majority of scholars working in the field. As has been made clear by the statement's manifold layers of interpretation and meaning, this piece of literature is not only one of the deepest of our time, but also one of the broadest. If this sentence were a visual art, it would most certainly bear a resemblance to M.C. Escher's Relativity, a seemingly simplistic and vulgar view — but ultimately, a profound look at what may arguably be termed the futility of existence.
- ^ The interpretation of 'fuckers' as being the company (or some other entity) known as "Fisher-Price" is generally considered to be flawed; Fisher-Price, though the title of the work, is clearly not the intended audience (as revealed in recent archaeological evidence). It is now believed that Fisher-Price refers to Lord Harold Fisher-Price, one of 17th Century England's lesser-known philosophical poets. It is unclear why the author titled his work after Fisher-Price. "Fuckers," however, could refer to all of the audience or just those who actively engage in sexual intercourse. (The implication that these are the same might also be a snide comment on modern sexual morés).
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