The COVID-19 coronavirus is having quite a few unforeseen impacts on society, as people prepare to social isolate in the weeks ahead. This has led to a shortage of many household objects at grocery stores and through digital retailers, including (to many people's chagrin) toilet paper. Frustration about the lack of available toilet paper has led to some creative memes and jokes online, including some callbacks to the 1993 cult classic Demolition Man. The 2032-set film memorably featured people using "three seashells" to use the bathroom as opposed to toilet paper, something that confused John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone), who had been cryogenically frozen for decades. The movie never canonically answers what the "three seashells" really do, but Bullock did provide some insight in a 2013 interview with MTV News.
"Well, think of a bidet, right?" Bullock explained. "There's several processes. You have number one, you have number two, and then the cleanup."
"You can use them as little maracas as well," Bullock continued. "See, it's a musical instrument, and it's a hygiene element!"
So, there you have it. If the recent toilet paper shortage has made you wonder about how the "three seashells" work, you have your answer. According to Bullock, the application of the three seashells shouldn't be as ambiguous as the movie makes it seem.
"It was obvious," Bullock joked. "It was obvious to me when I read it."
The panic buying of toilet paper has been a topic of conversation in recent days, especially since COVID-19's symptoms do not require more use of the product.
"You are not using more of it. You are just filling up your closet with it," Jeff Anderson, president of Precision Paper Converters, told The New York Times. "What happens in the summer when demand dries up and people have all this extra product in their homes?"
As The New York Times reports, the apparent shortage is largely due to the fact that toilet paper is usually made to order, and those in the industry only have a few months of inventory available. That means that the demand for new stock is overpowering how quickly companies can create more.
"There is not some big underground warehouse like in Raiders of the Lost Ark, where there is all this toilet paper sitting around in case it is needed," Dan Clarahan, president of United Converting, said.
What do you think of the truth behind Demolition Man's "three seashells"? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!