Coraline the Couponer

In a quaint, wooden dining room, the radiance of a waxen candle illuminates Coraline’s brown, eager eyes. The chuff, chuff of a gravy train circles the lacy doilies and linen tablecloth, arranged by Coraline’s Other Mother. She chomps into a round, chicken-leg-morsel, as her Other Parents switch out Coraline’s unfinished dinner plate with a mountain of abundant cake.

CORALINE. Mmm. This chicken is good!

OTHER MOTHER. Hungry, aren’t you?

CORALINE. Starving.

The food production of capitalism must be grown to look appetizing, feel appetizing, and financially satiate agricultural corporations by the billions. Coraline’s family struggles with food and housing in a way that mirrors the lower-middle-class while adding a supernatural element to it. Coraline’s aversion to her father’s green, complicated globs of “recipes” are a testament to the straightforward, fulfilling nutrition she wishes for. Coraline’s Other Mother exploits Coraline’s preference for the aesthetic, hearty meals she doesn’t experience at home, to lure her back to the secret passageway, continuously. 

A food-providing, maternal figure that Coraline would’ve truly benefited from the meeting is April, from TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” series. April of Erie, Pennsylvania describes herself as a “militant” persona, attempting to save the most out of her money. April’s goal is to shop for her family of seven teenage children and two-hundred fellow laymen at church. Because “one in seven children face hunger” in Pennsylvania, April’s feats, considering her firm budget of fewer than one hundred dollars, is a skill that would have assisted Coraline’s parents if they had as much help and free time to sort as many piles of coupons.

Coraline’s parents are ecology magazine authors. Repeatedly depicted in the film is annoyance–where Coraline is bugging (or begging) for parental attention. At the same time, her mother and father are slumped over old-school computers, frowning and clicking away before a set deadline. 

Their irritations stem from the demanding nature of their jobs, which causes Coraline to be emotionally neglected for an impending project. As Mel Jones, her mother, promises: “I swear I’ll go food shopping once we finish the catalog.” Shackled to I ❤ Mulch (Mel and Charlie Jones’s employer) like the Bonsai tree’s “nature is to be small and cozy, domestic and weak; how lucky, little tree, to have a pot to grow in,” Coraline’s parents are a portrayal of the modern corporate slave. They are fortunate enough to earn at a more-or-less stable workplace, with a creative outlet to write and evolve in the gardening niche, but only at the expense of working extended hours at home, too, damaging their family dynamic.

Though Coraline’s parents have the means to relocate and live in a spacious home, a basis for federal food assistance is that “A third of food-insecure people are not considered poor enough to qualify for government food assistance.” Coraline’s parents uprooted their livelihoods and previous residence to escape from food scarcity and discover a new occupation. The boredom and inner abandonment then manifest within Coraline’s mind to whine, which coaxes her mom to unlock the sinister realm behind the door. 

Coraline’s non-existent enthusiasm to consider her father’s new amorphous concoctions indicates her qualms about moving, too. Michigan connects to Coraline’s initial distaste for home-cooked dinner because she feels just as coerced into eating as coerced into interacting with this unknown, secretive neighborhood.

One thought on “Coraline the Couponer

  1. This is giving me major flashbacks. My mom was a HUGE coupon user. There wasn’t a single item that she bought without a coupon. My job was to sort through them once a month and ditch the expired coupons.


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