Monday, May 9, 2011

in todays battle, the victor is man

So, competitive eating is a big thing, eh? I mean, the nathan’s challenge is one of the best things to cringe through your hands at that’s on tv all summer. Kobayashi is one of the more fascinating humans on the earth and that Joey Chestnut dude, while excruciatingly revolting, has brought the big championship belt to America, finally, where it undoubtedly belongs. Here’s why: we’re huge and disgusting and everything we consume here is kind of done in such a way that it means that someone else has to go without and there’s no more perfect a metaphor for our grotesque obsession with making sure that we can throw something away so no one else can get it than a bunch of assholes pigging out for glory.

Take shoes or jeans for example. The only way that we can afford to have nice, inexpensive shoes or jeans is if somewhere out there, there are people working long hours for no money producing jeans and shoes, who could not, themselves, ever afford said shoes or jeans. If that system wasn’t in place, and people were working regular hours for decent living wages, jeans would be extremely expensive and that would be a bummer. The upshot of this whole thing is that we consume with a blind eye towards the undeniable and horrible truth sewn into our clothes and pretty much everything we own (on a side note, this whole thing comes home to roost pretty quick when you look at the way that certain unions in the US have hamstrung their employers with ever increasing demands which have forced lots of factories overseas, where pesky unions and rules about how old you have to be or how flammable something must not be aren’t running the show. But do you know WHY this is? Sure, it’s about money, but the real, honest to god truth of the matter is that we as consumers aren’t willing to pay what it costs to produce things in the western world. No one is buying the same shitty converse sneakers for two hundred bucks, when it costs nothing to just pretend that the ones you have weren’t stitched together by a starving child) and there’s NEVER been a metaphor for the gluttony and dirty diapers of the west that’s as apt as a bunch of overweight pigs eating twenty pounds of chicken wings in under five minutes.

Man Vs Food, for those of you who don’t know, is a show about a gluttonous lard ass who gleefully prances around the united states stuffing his bloated gullet with monstrosity after monstrosity, all under the guise of just loving the food industry and its many quirks. The truth, however, is vastly more porny than that. Adam Richman insists that he hasn’t gained any weight since he started this soul-harvesting bacchanal, (a claim that creepily mirrors wayward porn stars insisting that they don’t have daddy issues/coke habits) but his chins tell a different story.

Obesity is epidemic around here, and strangely, in other parts of the world, hunger is a big problem. This guy is traveling around and glorifying an extremely unhealthy lifestyle with all the compassion of Marie Antoinette or some fat billionaire using a bunch of starving kids from Sudan as human plates for his sushi parties. He’s becoming ugly and physically gross, he’s making money by eating food he neither wants nor needs by the shovelful, celebrating his victories over food like a prizefighter, all while making everyone kind of simultaneously hungry and grossed out in the process. It’s one of the most uniquely gross shows ever put on television and I mean that in several ways. Here’s the other thing about it though, it’s insanely fun to watch.

Adam is a charismatic guy and the show is carefully constructed so that each episode sets up a conflict, a challenge and a resolution. It’s very satisfying television. The part they leave off the show however, is the part where he’s taking brutal dumps after eating ten meatloaves, or where because we decide to make a pizza using ten pounds of cheese there’s something in the neighborhood of twenty people out there on some side of the world that aren’t gonna get any cheese at all, and most tragically, the fact that there are animals that literally die and are turned into food, just to be left sitting on the scale and thrown away after the challenge runs its course.

I mean, I’m not trying to preach the evils of eating meat (though, honestly, it’s pretty cut and dry. There’s nothing so undeniably evil as killing something and eating its flesh. That’s why Hannibal Lecter scared us so much. That’s why [most of the time] the meat we enjoy is processed to not resemble the animals that it used to be, particularly if its some sort of animal we can feel empathy towards [like a cow or sheep, who seem a lot cooler than a chicken or a lobster {a gigantic bug that is disgusting no matter what and also excellently discussed as a food source in the late, great David Foster Wallace’s brilliant article Consider the Lobster which everyone should read, if for no other reason than because it’s hilarious}]) but there’s something seriously fucked up about killing something and processing its flesh into, lets say corned beef, and then just setting that corned beef in a gigantic pile and eventually throwing it away. It’s really, really, really, really fucked up for at least 2 reasons:

1. Motherfuckers out there are hungry! There are children on this earth that literally eat stones and dirt to stop hunger pains. To just throw shit away is not just wasteful, it’s cruel to the point of scariness.
2. That was a living thing at one point, man! It’s one thing to kill an animal and eat it, but what the fuck kind of life is it when you are born for the express purpose of becoming food someday, you live your entire life working towards the burger you will someday become and then once you’ve taken the plunge and turned yourself into food (kind of euphemistic, but you get the idea, once you become food) they just throw you away?!?!?!? Seriously? You sent my body through a machine that cut out the sinew and separated my muscles from my bones, drained my blood and put the meat from my ass and legs into a brine, cooked it over fire, and then rather than even enjoy it, you THREW IT AWAY!?!?!?!?!?!!??!

That’s just fucked up, man. It really is. That’s EVEN more fucked up than just eating it even though you’re full and it will definitely make you sick. That’s like killing a hooker and not even making her into a dead skin mask or cutting out her vagina and putting it in your scrapbook of hooker vaginas. It’s like tossing puppies into a river for fun. It’s so demented and there’s an industry that not only thrives on that, but simultaneously celebrates bad health, wasting food, laughs heartily at the inequality of life on this planet AND gleefully encourages gluttony and grotesquite.

I dunno, man. Watched a lot of that shit this weekend and I’m feeling kind of gross today, so that’s what’s on my mind. I realize that pointing out the repulsive evils of competitive eating is about as edgy and visionary as singing a punk song about how cops suck or making a porn that celebrates the male orgasm like it’s a fountain of gold, so you can spare me the bullshit. Kay. Good deal. Have a good Monday. I feel like the world is kind of out to get me today, so be cool.

xoxoxoxo

19 comments:

FranklinStein said...

I remember reading this ages ago and finding your preference for Grade F meat very strange:

http://exclaim.ca/Features/Questionnaire/brendan_kelly-lawrence_arms

Insanebassist said...

I totally agree nothing pisses me off more then people wasting food. If you're not gonna finish it (or at the very least save it to reheat) then don't order it. I try to eat everything I order or make even if I think its disgusting. I've actually been this way since I first hear eat it by weird al. I know nerd right?

Dissent said...

Great fucking post.

Spanish moss said...

HEARD.

Joshua said...

Nice DFW reference. He was a great writer.

Seagull Steve said...

I want to grow up to be spam. That way people can both be grossed out by me AND throw me away (you would think that happens to old spam pretty often). On top of that, spam animals (SPAMIMALS???) just get mixed in with all the other spam animals during the spamming process, so little bits of me could end up in hundreds of different spam cans! Talk about a delicious legacy.

Gregory said...

Everyone should google Chicken Fecal Soup.

Taylor Morris said...

I will echo the "Great post" and the "Nice DFW reference"
But I got a question I been meaning to lob at ya for a while. Whycome you be eating meats if you know all this? I turned vegetarian last year after reading the essay in that latest Propagandhi record.. pretty much vegan at home now too. So as a fellow Prop fan and obviously a dude who knows about the meat production world (and according to that interview I guess used to be veg?), y'know, how do people that are so aware continue to support these lifestyle choices? The logic was just way too clear for me once it got laid out.

BEEXtrix Potter said...

Anyone ever had sloth? I got this unshakeable notion that sloth is just fucking delicious

Kevin Burnett said...

Pretty accurate description of Man vs. Food, I have a similar reaction when I watch it. The only part I disagree with is the part about killing something and eating its flesh and how that is evil.

If a cheetah hunts down a gazelle and rips its throat out and opens its guts up so she can feed her baby cheetahs - that's not evil, it's just the way of the world.

but - you're right about killing things and turning them into food just to throw it away - that is pretty sad, for both reasons you mentioned.

I know you already know this, I just wanted to point out the exception.

It's A-Me, Martucci said...

What's with that one intellectually dishonest subspecies of vegan/veggie (one on every floor of every college dorm) that attibutes their dietary/lifestyle change to "that one eye-opening, life-changing song/essay/demonstration/pamphlet/slaughterhouse footage reel"? I mean, come the fuck on, ya know?

If you're old enough to tie your shoes and dress yourself, you should have a pretty solid formation of an idea of the conditions behind all that mass produced processed meat lining the shelves when you accompany momma to supermarket. If that notion/suspicion hasn't fully worked its way into full-on conscious thought by the time you're old enough for your learner's permit, you're most likely retarded. I mean, did you have the genuine misconception the cattle spend their final days in private luxury suites, being administered an incremental regime of "pleasant smelling salts" that gradually kill them with marshmellow smells over a week? Of course you fucking didn't. You may have tried weeeal hard to willfully induce a self deception along those lines, but deep down, ya knew. And so when that inevitable right of passage comes when you slip through the pita booklet or whatev or peep the slaughter money shots, it comes to two factions: those who say 'Well fuck, sucks seein it up close and whatnot, but I knew this was the score all along, and, well, in the end I just don't give enough of a shit about chickens or cattle or really any 'lesser' creature to cease consuming meat for my carnal pleasure", or b) you're kind of a puss and make the decision to cease and desist, not on any kind of real moral grounds (although there's "plenty" of bullshit posturing to go around in that regard) but moreso that in having finally stared in the abyss, you can no longer maintain that mental distance necessary to go on deluding yourself that your cold cuts were formed in a magic urn by benevolent leprechauns. Or if you're reeeally dispicable, because it's chic. Don't get me wrong though - I abhore the carnivore folks who go around spoutin the 'law of the jungle'/'we have canine teeth!' bullshit as well...

It's A-Me, Martucci said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
It's A-Me, Martucci said...

...I mean, at least be honest about it ya know? It's because you dont give enough of a shit about the potential brief suffering of the animals you're consuming to not enjoy meat, ya know? I would think the fact that human have to thoroughly cook (most) meat over fires and in man-made devices in order for it to not, ya know, fucking KILL us should be sufficient to dispel that whole obnoxiously stupid canine teeeeeth/it's a jUuuuuungle" school of thought.

It's A-Me, Martucci said...

Or maybe I'm just being a fucking idiot and our lack of immunity to meat nasties is a (lack of) evolution sort of thing stemming from us having decided cooked meat tasted way better and thus never developing the little immuno-stomach lining goodies that would allow us to enjoy a fresh slaughtered giraffe the way a lion does.

I'm sure a james bliss type will be along soon enough to "set the record straight"!

Brendan Kelly said...

Kevin, tell it to the gazelle. The way of the world IS evil, brah. Just because it feeds babies, it don't make it nice.

Kevin Burnett said...

Beex,

From that perspective you're 100% right. The gazelle doesn't give a shit what your intentions are, it's still dead. I guess I just assumed that's not evil, it's just the inherent bummer that goes along with living here.

BEEXtrix Potter said...

Well Ill be goddmaned if this lil' beex/kev exchange wasnt the most unintentionally funny thing Ive seen in 2-3 days! He hee, you rascals~!*

jbody said...

that beex cmmt says "i played in a ska band" like nothin hes dropped here before yall.wakawaka

jbody said...

"go tell da gazelle" is kinda like saying talk to the hand in africa.its all about the rhythmic delivery