Friday, March 15, 2013


Year Two as a happy vegan gal is rapidly approaching. Of course, anyone who might read this blog with any regularity knows that I reflect a lot. Since delving a bit into the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, I've become more comfortable with this side of my personality and less prone to apologizing for it. The Thinker, after all, is a sculpture that is regarded with awe. You don't hear of many people admiring a piece of artwork called The Multitasker or The Chatterbox. It doesn't have quite the same appeal, does it?

In the midst of this ongoing reflection, I'm often taken aback that I didn't give up eating animals much sooner. Memories of roadsigns along the way begin to resurface. Like the time when I lived in Indiana and a humungous truckload of pigs passed me on the highway. Their snouts were coming out of the holes in the side of the truck and one of those pigs looked at me from between the slats. Our eyes actually met. Then the truck pulled ahead. I was pulling off at the next exit anyway, which was probably the safest thing for me, as I had begun crying in gulping sobs. I pulled to the side of the first available road and put my little Toyota in park, noting that my hands were actually shaking on the steering wheel as I tried to pull myself together.

For the life of me, I cannot remember my frame of mind afterwards. Why didn't I give up eating animals once seeing that? After coming face to face with the eyes of someone's dinner, perhaps my own? I have no answers. It's like trying to remember what sight was like with my two eyes, after having injured one substantially at the age of nine. I simply have no recollection of seeing the previous way. And I don't mean that in a snobbish "I'm so evolved" manner. I simply cannot remember and feel a little confounded by that memory lapse in both situations.

About six years prior, there had been another roadsign. Like the pigs on their way to slaughter, this one left an indelible mark on my heart. It was a movie called Powder. I think I saw it in a theater, and so many scenes stayed with me. Every now and again, I'd mention the title to friends, but no one had heard of it. Wondering if it was as good as I remembered, I started a little google search and saw, to my amazement, that the film got bad reviews left and right.

So tonight, almost twenty years later, I decided to sit back and rewatch it and see if my memory's raves had any merit.

I don't know what those reviewers were talking about. And I don't care. Because this is one powerful movie. The many tears I shed earlier have now dried on my face, leaving it feeling a little -- hey! -- powdery and sticky in a been-at-the-beach way.

The basic idea of the story is that a boy is born after his mother is struck and killed by a lightning strike. The boy (Jeremy, aka Powder) has some very unique characteristics as a result and is completely white with no hair. Fast forward to his latter teen years and he is in his grandfather's home, with the grandfather having just passed away of natural causes. The boy is taken by the state, after having been hidden away from strangers for his whole life. Along the way, Jeremy (Sean Patrick Flannery) gains a stray ally here and there (Mary Steenburgen, Jeff Goldblum, and Lance Henrikson) while enduring the torments of small-minded people. He's this kind, gentle soul who only wants to be back in his familiar farmhouse and away from the taunts of others. He's so believably sweet and scared, he breaks your heart. Animals sense his kindness throughout the movie and are drawn to him.

The scene that made me loathe hunting more than I did before was one in which Jeremy is in the woods and comes upon several older boys and a deputy (Duncan) who have just shot a deer. He sees them whooping and congratulating each other as the deer lays dying at their feet. Duncan has already made his distaste for Jeremy known and gets threatening as Jeremy approaches the wounded deer. Jeremy, crying, puts his white hand on the writhing deer's neck and grabs the arm of the deputy with a firm, powerful grip. Duncan instantly starts crying and falls to the ground, spasming each time the deer spasms. Jeremy finally lets Duncan go, and the deputy curls up on the ground, crying and shaking as the boys surround him and look at Jeremy in fear.

When Jeremy is later questioned, he says calmly but with sadness in his eyes, "I let him see. I opened him up and I let him see. He just couldn't see what he was doing. So I helped him."

Later the sheriff (Doug) finds Duncan at home and discovers that he has relinqished his rather substantial gun collection. When pressed, Duncan finally opens up to his boss.
"Let me tell you something, Doug. You ever tell anybody I said this, I'm movin' out of town. 

"That ... kid? He lays his hand on the deer while it's still shakin'. And then he touches me at the same time. Now I can't figure out why, 'till my heart starts pounding and I'm shakin'. And I'm feelin' myself hurt and scared shitless in the goddamn dark. That's the worse thing I ever felt. It's like I could feel that animal dyin'. Hell, it's like I was that goddamned thing. 

... Now ... I just can't do it anymore. I can't look at something down the barrel without thinkin' about it. I tried it ... I'm tellin' you, he took whatever's in that goddamn deer and he put it right into me."

It sounds a little forced as I even read over those words, but boy I found the whole thing so well acted.

Now the obvious problem here is, Did they use an actual deer in the film? It does look like it, and I have serious qualms about that if they did. But I can't deny that the movie had a huge effect on me.

I actually haven't given that much of the film away for those who are intrigued. It's a wonderful tear-jerker with a pretty phenomenal ending. Ignore the bad reviews and its disappearance into obscurity. This movie needs to be seen. It's rare that a older movie exceeds your memory's take on it.

I'd be curious if anyone else has seen Powder or plans on seeing it? Or, for that matter, what roadsigns did you encounter along the way to "Veganville"? Or what roadsigns are you encountering as a non-vegan?


  1. Oh my goodness, I used to LOVE that movie with a capital L! I can't even begin to count how many times I watched it, but I'm pretty sure I wore out the VHS tape (it has been forever since I've seen it...I wonder whether they have it on Netflix)?

    I had many road signs, too. Everyone has to find their own way, when they are ready, but what boggles my mind is that I actually made several pit stops along the way -- I was vegetarian on and off throughout my childhood and into college -- yet I would somehow throw it into reverse and fall back into old patterns. Oh well, better late than never. :)

    1. Oh a kindred spirit! It's such fun finding someone who adores the same movie/book. It is so easy to fall back into what we're told and shown is normal. You should give a listen to the 3/23/13 podcast on Our Hen House. I got a chance to chat with the ladies on that show about this very topic. Jasmin Singer had a really interesting take on it.

  2. I saw that movie as a child, and I still remember it. Maybe it was one of my "signs" on the way to going vegan, I'm not sure. I went vegan a few years later.

    That deer scene was an especially powerful one. If anything, that's the scene people tend to talk about even if they don't like the movie overall. (p.s. it was a robot deer.)

    When I was reading about powder again, I saw that there had been a bollywood remake of the film called Alag. I think I'd like to see it too. :)

  3. Hi MeShell,

    Really? It was a robot deer? How did you find that out?

    And I'm very intrigued by Alag. Thanks for mentioning it! A friend turned me on to Bollywood a while back. And while I haven't seen any since, I was really struck by the lovely style of it.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I remember Powder when it came out. I had been vegan for a while, and as a vegan, the deer scene went through me like lightning. I remember reading the (print-only) entertainment coverage after film came out and can confirm that the reporting at the time was that the deer was animatronic.

    The bigger thing that I remember about Powder was that after its release were the child molestation charges against the director, which is briefly mentioned in the Wiki article that you linked to.

  5. I googled POWDER (after re-watching and shedding millions of tears!) and found this post. The movie gets me every time and the deer scene is the highlight of the movie.. I had my boys watch the film too and it really opens them up to a lot of things - love for another life, animals, the fact that strange doesn't mean bad and above all love is a powerful thing. Powder was lonely and even lonelier when the grandparents went.. the scene where Jeff Goldblum touched him (Powder talked about the grandparents were scared totouch him) just killed me :(