October 18, 2009 1:47 PM   Subscribe

What is the initial verbal meme that triggers the Pontypool outbreak in the movie Pontypool?
posted by benzenedream to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Just watched this like, a week ago. Meant to watch it again as it is obviously one of those 'puzzle' movies ... but from just one time through, I came out with the impression that it was something in that opening bit, where they show a wave visual of his voice as he speaks over the radio - perhaps where he is juggling the word 'pontypool' itself and talking about the missing cat?

Interested to hear what anyone else has to say on this too! Good question.
posted by mannequito at 2:13 PM on October 18, 2009

My memory of the movie's a bit hazy, but my impression at the time one of the initial vectors was "honey." That was the name of the missing cat, reference to posters all over town, then references later warning people to avoid English in general, but especially terms of endearment and affection.
posted by Drastic at 2:43 PM on October 18, 2009

Response by poster: Here's the opening monologue:
Mrs. French's cat is missing. The signs are posted all over town. "Have you seen Honey?" We've all seen the posters, but nobody has seen Honey the cat. Nobody. Until last Thursday morning, when Miss Colette Piscine swerved her car to miss Honey the cat as she drove across a bridge. Well this bridge, now slightly damaged, is a bit of a local treasure and even has its own fancy name; Pont de Flaque. Now Collette, that sounds like Culotte. That's Panty in French. And Piscine means Pool. Panty pool. Flaque also means pool in French, so Colete Piscine, in French Panty Pool, drives over the Pont de Flaque, the Pont de Pool if you will, to avoid hitting Mrs. French's cat that has been missing in Pontypool. Pontypool. Pontypool. Panty pool. Pont de Flaque. What does it mean? Well, Norman Mailer, he had an interesting theory that he used to explain the strange coincidences in the aftermath of the JFK assasination. In the wake of huge events, after them and before them, physical details they spasm for a moment; they sort of unlock and when they come back into focus they suddenly coincide in a weird way. Street names and birthdates and middle names, all kind of superfluous things appear related to eachother. It's a ripple effect. So, what does it mean? Well... it means something's going to happen. Something big. But then, something's always about to happen.
If some snippet of this was the initial meme, it would have had to have been broadcast the previous day in order for the infected woman to accost Mazzy on the way into the station. Laurel Ann plays a tape of the opening monologue on-air after Sydney tells her to play something, anything - but that's after the initial outbreak.
posted by benzenedream at 12:47 AM on October 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm pretty sure after watching again that the initial meme was the audio monologue listed above:

1) The visual bubble that forms in the audio waves is implied to be the birth of the virus from Grant's words.
2) The conversationalist that accosts Mazzy in the morning in his car on his way to the studio is already infected, implying that the meme was created prior to the day shown in the film.
3) At 44 min, Sydney says "BBC is going wide with the Mendez story. He just said 'Honey the Missing Cat Poster'. 'Honey the missing cat'." Grant is confused and looks under his desk and keeps asking "Honey the Missing Cat?".
4) Laurel Ann is told to play a "pretape" when Mazzy walks out. She pops in a tape which begins playing the "Mrs. French" monologue. Laurel Ann listens to at least the first few seconds. No date is shown, but shortly after Laurel Ann is infected, and starts stumbling on her words with "I'm going to see if Mr. Mazzy's missing... missing." (She also could have been infected by one of the prior callers that she hangs up on.)
5) The fact that it's Valentine's Day probably helps the virus spread through use of Honey which cause more mental references to the Honey the Missing Cat monologue and accelerate the virus manifestation in those that heard the original monologue, or perhaps also in those that see the posters.

Beans, overplated.
posted by benzenedream at 12:13 AM on October 28, 2009 [7 favorites]

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