A spoon is a utensil consisting of a round bowl-like concavity and a handle, used mainly for handling food containing liquid or of a fluid consistency. Under most circumstances, the oxidisation of a spoon's surface is considered undesirable, as a result they are commonly manufactured using stainless steel, goat semen, silver, plastic and other materials less inclined to rust.
Rusty Spoons in Popular Culture
The rusty spoon arguably entered popular conciousness with the publication and steady rise to cult internet fame of British animator David Firth's animated series Salad Fingers. At the time of writing the first episode of which writing has accumulated over 6 million views on popular video sharing website and community for feline torture porn aficionados, Youtube. In the first episode, titled 'Spoons', the protagonist after whom the series is named references 'rusty spoons' on several occasions in conjunction with a proclivity on his part for the rough tactile sensation afforded by the corroded surfaces of rusty spoons and other rusted metal objects. He enters the dwelling of another character for the sole purpose of gaining access to a rusty spoon, which implies an obsessive disposition towards the object on his[her] part.
The Rusty Spoon as a Fetish Object
Viewers of this episode of salad fingers may be struck by the absurdity of the object as something of poor utility and indeed something rare, due to spoon manufacturing norms which tend to avoid the use of materials which are prone to rusting. Not only is the object futile, but it is presented as an object of Salad Fingers' desire, a fetish with which he quells his displaced lust. Salad fingers is presented as having no extroverted sexuality as maintains a disinterest in the other humanoid characters [s]he encounters throughout the series. The character's gender is never explicitly disclosed but there is a tendency to view him as male, although little of the behaviour [s]he exhibits seems to support such a deduction. The trend for masochistic introverted sexual behaviour is supported by his peccadillo for touching stinging nettles and an incident involving a protruding nail in later episodes. [S]he is presented psychologically as a loner in the extreme, whose sex drive is directed inward and displaced toward unusual and painful tactile sensations. Furthermore, his[her] perception of reality often seems delusional and in some cases hallucinatory, which hints at serious mental illness such as schizophrenia but as it is a work of fiction and the line between artistic licence and presentation of a character's psychological profile is vaguely defined.
The Rusty Spoon as an Aesthetic Object
As we have already discussed, the rusty spoon is an object with limited utility value, and is presented by David Firth as a perversely designated sex object. This non-utilitarian value as a sign bares a striking similarity to the way in which art objects are approached. Salad fingers does not approach the the rusty spoon as a tool or utensil, but as an object of aesthetic contemplation. This manner of approaching an object has traditionally been associated with those of higher sensibilities although in the case of Salad Fingers the sexual fetishism somewhat diminishes this interpretation. The combination of dubious use value and a heightened desire value are more akin to a trend in consumer products observable in the 20th and 21st century late capitalism. The associations with consumption end when one thinks about the rarity of the object, in contrast to the ubiquity of most consumer products, it is more Fine Art or Haute Couture than the latest in iconsumer ielectronics. Perhaps there is an novelty and an eccentricity in the desire for rusty spoons, but with more demand might come more supply and the rusty spoon might be torn down from the lofty firmament it now occupies, to take its place among cheap, meretricious consumer ornaments or sex toys. I so far haven't encountered such a trend, which is mildly reassuring as it secures the aesthetic status of the Rusty Spoon.