by Linda Holmes
I cornered Grant Imahara, part of the build team on Discovery's Mythbusters, at an event on Thursday night and told him that I wanted to discuss what I said was -- and maintain is -- the single most amazing thing I have ever seen on television. "And that thing," I told him, "is Meat Man."
"Meat Man" was a Mythbusters experiment in which they were trying to determine whether there was any truth to a legend stating that a malfunctioning old-style diving suit could result in the stranded diver, because of water pressure, having his body and innards slowly pressed into his helmet. It is seriously horrifying to contemplate.
When they tested the myth, in order to get the best possible human analog, the build team's Tory Belleci constructed a person-shaped object made out of purchased pig parts. It had bones, it had muscle, it had fat, it had skin, and it had a large middle section filled with guts. It was, quite seriously, an extremely revolting thing before they even experimented with it. Just the existence of Meat Man -- just the creation of Meat Man -- was something to behold.
I don't think anyone on the build team thought this would actually work, that the body would be pressed up into the helmet in spite of the bone-and-muscle structure. (Grant -- I call him Grant because I have watched him on educational television and therefore consider us pals -- confirmed that they were extremely skeptical about this one.) But sure enough, when they put Meat Man in the suit, Meat Man's guts and body parts began rising up past the helmet's window. It was seriously one of the most spectacularly disgusting and utterly delightful things I have ever seen.
While Grant agreed that it was gross, and while team member Kari Byron backed away from this conversation saying firmly of Meat Man, "That was so wrong," he had to take issue with my notion that Meat Man was the pinnacle of gloriously gross Mythbusting.
"Have you seen 'Ear Wax Candle'?" he asked me.
We have new details regarding ear wax candle, so please hold on to your breakfast, after the jump.
"Oh, I saw Ear Wax Candle," I said. "My family watched it together over the holidays." (This is the honest truth.) This myth is exactly as it sounds -- the idea they were testing was that it was possible to construct a candle out of ear wax. They gathered a lot of material, you see, and made a candle, only to discover that it would burn only briefly, because ear wax doesn't burn like regular wax.
(Now, I caution you, the rest of this description is going to be very disgusting, but not as disgusting as Ear Wax Candle was on television.)
What ultimately made my family laugh hysterically while looking at the television with horror through our intertwined fingers, I told Grant, was the close-up of the Ear Wax Candle where you could see the little ... hairs? Because naturally, ear wax comes from the body, and ... you get the idea.
As gross as the close-up was, in telling me why he maintained that Meat Man had to yield to Ear Wax Candle in this category, Grant cited one thing that we at home were fortunately unable to appreciate: the smell. Apparently, the smell of burning ear wax is not something you would enjoy if you had the opportunity to experience it in person, if you choose to believe Grant Imahara.
But Grant wasn't done yet. (Seriously, put down what you're eating. Just put it down.)
He went on to explain to me that because there are only so many people in the cast and crew, and because some of those people have clean ears and so forth, they were not able to obtain the necessary materials just from internal sources, so they were able to work with a local ear doctor who specializes in ear problems, who provided them with material obtained from his patients. Of course, people who visit an ear doctor specializing in ear problems often have ear problems themselves.
"So," Grant said, "the other thing was that much of it was infected."
I WARNED YOU. WHY DIDN'T YOU LISTEN?