♪ In perpetuity
All throughout the universe
You and me
Past end of time and edge of space
I fall forever in your face
The edge of space and the end of time
I am yours and you are mine ♪
— C’mon, ‘Cados! Just Love These Guys as Much as Uvular Does
“Chud,”—or, more properly, “C.H.U.D.” —survives in pop culture parlance in several combinations of connotation and denotation. The acronym first rose into the collective consciousness as the subtitle of a 1984 horror film. It officially spells out as “cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers.” As originally conceived, chuds occupied a weird fictional space between zombies, mutants and skeletons.
Writers for The Simpsons revivified the term as the topper for an all-time classic montage of young Homer barely surviving his first visit to New York City while on his way to the Harrisburg Coat Factory to buy an irregular coat. Most recently, the moniker has morphed into a shibboleth of left-leaning internet commenters invoking shorthand for “that certain type of incel MAGA troll who probably does not even vote but takes every opportunity to indulge their worst impulses and excrete their deplorable opinions.”1
Your Weekend Politics Thread header author discursively discourses on this evolution of an allegory to circle back to the other filmic meaning of C.H.U.D. Which demands one more tangent.2
Every good horror flick showcases and decries serious problemsTM in then-modern society. The original Steve McQueen-starring The Blob unloads both barrels against creeping communism and the kids these days. John Carpenter’s 1982 remake of The Thing plays on the paranoid style in American politics. The Stuff counterpoints calamitous consumerism while lamp-shading the retreat of righteous ‘Murcan snacks in the face of yogurt enjoyment.
C.H.U.D. swings big against toxic waste and what. decades later, folks would start calling environmental racism.3 It spoils nothing to recount that the movie stars Daniel Stern in full action hero mode saving a poor Harlem neighborhood from flesh-eating monsters. It spoils a pleasant surprise just bit to mention that the movie also features Ed’s friend’s husband from Raising Arizona, the one who tells way-homers and enjoys “you know, to swing.”4
Turns out, chuds emerged due to exposure to irradiated and corrosive sludge leaking from barrels labeled “Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal.” A corporation headed by John Heard figured it could save money on waste disposal by sticking it in the subbasements of city buildings.
Uvular went through all of this recollecting, reminiscing and ruminating on chemical perils in perpetuity a couple weeks back when so-called forever chemicals briefly flashed into international headlines. With exceptions acknowledged for Roman concrete, monuments and temples hewed from stone, and items forged with nonoxidizing metals, the stuff pre-Industrial Age people produced wore away or biodegraded over time. Clay pots shattered and reverted to dust. Wooden structures aged and either burned down or rotted to nothingness. Homo pick-a-subspecies’ very bones even went the way of flesh after enough eons.
Starting around 200 years ago, however, people started figuring ways to conjure constructs that never left the environment. Mass market steel,5 aluminum alloys, plastics of all sorts, split atoms, PFAS, microfilaments and -fibers … Oh my!
Thirty-seven years on from the cri de gore6 of C.H.U.D., humankind has barely even begun to wrangle its recondite refuse. For every minor victory such as pumping the poisons out of Love Canal, the world sees a dozen intractable Hanfords and Chernobyls. E-waste will burgeon once battery-powered vehicles muscle fossil-fueled cars and trucks off the road. And so forth.
Uvular tries not to panic as he also tries not to think too hard about the fate of the two to three plastic bottles’ worth of Diet Pepsi he downs each day. But he knows the window for doing something opened long before Calder Willingham, Buck Henry and Charles Webb had one of their characters advise Dustin Hoffman’s character to invest in plastics.7
Share your solutions for spare us a chuddish future in the comments.