And in the repetition of this gesture, I finally understand what I’ve been doing. This is a frozen pizza I’m cutting. It goes into your freezer, into your oven, and into your mouth when you don’t have time to worry about dinner.
But by putting the object through this complex choreography—pulling it from the flames, sliding it across the hearth, slicing it with a robust thrash—we are taking the most pedestrian item and converting it into a totem of the moment, one that embodies freshness, romance, sex on that Tuscan hillside.
The hands are the element that makes all this possible, because they stand in for the viewers’ fantasy of themselves. And in a world of food sophistication, viewers don’t want to think of themselves as having passive hands that merely receive the pizza already prepared. They want to have active hands, doing hands, the hands of the chef who kneads the dough, the hands of the pizzeria owner who reaches into the fire, the hands of the hunky waiter with the Armani pout who slices the pie at your table.
The hands embody this myth of the moment. They understand the hour even better than we do. In other words, the hands do what they’ve always done best: They tell us the time.