Andy Warhol's 1966 film Since

Tragedy as Irreverent Spectacle

© Billy Name / Reel Art Press

Warhol commissioned the Plastic Convertible Corporation to create inflatable Baby Ruth candy bars and used them in his 1966 film Since, an irreverent interpretation of the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy. Rather than being a faithful reenactment of the tragic event, the film is a rambling amalgamation of media responses to the assassination, with languorous factory superstars playing the main characters in largely improvised, nonlinear dialogic and narrative wanderings. 

Still from Since © 2010 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA

The oversized Baby Ruths appear at random intervals throughout the film, as nonsensical, comedic props, cutting through any attempt at a sanctimonious atmosphere around Kennedy's death. Gerry Malanga, playing Lee Harvey Oswald, shoots Mary Woronov, as Kennedy, with a banana. The scene resets and the actors switch characters, showing the assassination from a different perspective. A Baby Ruth falls from the sky. Johnson tells Mrs. Kennedy that she's the loveliest First Lady since Abigail van Buren. A Baby Ruth flies into the scene. Two actors, both playing Oswald, beat the others with the Baby Ruths. The last shot of the film is Ronnie Cutrone kicking a Baby Ruth into the air.

It didn’t bother me that much that [Kennedy] was dead. What bothered me was the way television and radio were programming everybody to feel so sad. It seemed like no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t get away from the thing.

Andy Warhol

Warhol created a great deal of work about the media's representation of the Kennedy assassination and was fascinated by how quickly the event was cannibalized into the culture. The absurdity of a giant inflatable Baby Ruth, appearing randomly in the middle of the Kennedy assassination, can be likened to a commercial for Pepsi interrupting a violent news broadcast. Warhol's work showed how culture was consistently cut down by our obsessive consumption and while he gleefully aided in this to an extent, he also made us more aware and critical of the power we cede to media and advertising in shaping our collective experiences.

Everybody's plastic, but I love plastic.
I want to be plastic.

Andy Warhol