' Cinema Romantico: Shark Steak Sandwich

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Shark Steak Sandwich

One of the more underrated Movie Presidents is Jeff Bridges’s Jackson Evans in “The Contender” (2000). Forced to choose a replacement Vice President after the current VP has passed away, Evans settles on Senator Laine Hanson (Joan Allen, fire), a woman, obviously, which, obviously, unleashes the wrath of so many insecure white good ol’ boys in position of power. This leads to all manner of political machinations, with Illinois Congressman Shelly Runyon (Gary Oldman) and President Evans playing what amounts to a high stakes game of governmental. “I’ll die before Shelly Runyon checkmates me,” says Evans, which is simply one of the best political movie lines you will ever hear, signaling that all these events on which the fate of the republic (and the free world) hinge are less about you and me and everyone else then settling personal beefs and demonstrating whose balls are brassiest.

Bridges plays this idea for all its worth, laying the charismatic smarm on thick, a guy who is in control and wants you to know he is in control. He demonstrates this control with food. Seriously. Anyone Evans invites up to the Oval Office is immediately met with a Presidential overture of food, not as a peace offering but as a “Look What I Can Do, Sparky” alert. We see this most memorably when President Evans takes a meeting with Delaware Congressman Reginald Webster (Christian Slater) who is part of Runyon’s Vice Presidential Confirmation Committee and who, like Runyon, is showing great resistance to Hanson. Before they dive into politics, however, President Evans shows off the impressive edible material in his hand.


Evans: “You know what this is? That’s a shark steak sandwich. Fucking shark steak. You want half?”
Webster: “Uh, no, thank you.”
Evans: “Are you a vegan? Had lunch?”
Webster: “Uh, no—”
Evans: “So you choose not to break bread with the President of the United States?”

So sure, Webster chooses to break bread with the President, taking half of the Commander-in-Chief’s shark steak sandwich, managing a small bite while Evans hovers with a “Mine Are Bigger” look on his face before they fall into conversation where Evans, in so many words, and quite a few more, tells Webster to back the fuck off his gonna-be VP. And all the while that shark steak sandwich lingers like a culinary threat.

I thought of this when Chris Christie revealed that President Trump, hosting the New Jersey Governor for dinner at the White House on Tuesday, ordered for Christie, explaining they would both be having the meatloaf. I liked imagining Trump as a variation of Evans, using the White House Chef as a kind of negotiating tool, lording his position with ground meat. Going further, I like imagining Trump, pettiest of the petty, doing this all the time, ordering the New York strip steaks of foreign dignarities and bootlicking congressmen well done because “everyone prefers their steak well done, as you know”, and then cancelling the Congressman’s order of a Malbec for a Diet Coke instead because “Diet Coke goes very well with steak, believe me.”

1 comment:

Jessica said...

The title of this post made me think it was going to be about Spinal Tap. But this is great, too.