The honor of being this Sunday’s Terror from Childhoods Past goes to Tridacna gigas…
…otherwise known as the giant clam.
This harmless (and endangered) creature’s percieved aura of menace can be chalked up to a number of factors. While the Freudian connotations of a supposedly “man-eating clam” are impossible to miss…
…the lion’s share of the bivalve’s dreaded reputation rested on a combination of unexamined hearsay, the public’s fascination with exotic (and enormous) spins on quotidian things, and primordial anxieties about the horrors found beneath the water’s surface.
Though no deaths have ever been factually attributed to giant clams and their native habitats were thousands of miles away from the average American beachgoer, the (lucdicrously exxagerated) idea of an oversized aquatic bear-trap was enough to spark the fires of dreadful imagination…
…so much so, in fact, that the “threat” they posed was treated as real in military diving manuals and the class of “scientific” literature which panders to the masses’ love of high concept material.
The giant clam has retained its habitat in the vast ocean of popcult tropes, but its menacing aspects have been softened into the stuff from which facile humor is made, the subject of a Spongebob gag rather than an object of sheer terror for a five year old vacationing on the Maine coast in 1977.
Recommended listening: The Phantom Surfers – Poison Clam (from Go! The Phantom Surfers Race Against The Tormentos, 2003)
Folks with shellfish and/or killer surf rock allergies, beware.