While researching for the previous post on celebrity chefs, I read many articles about chefs and food networks. One of the articles I came across is a protracted piece from October 2005, by Frederick Kaufman of Harper’s Magazine, entitled “Debbie Does Salad: The Food Network at the Frontiers of Pornography“. In it Kaufman, via Barbara Nitke’s insights, draws comparison between the shooting (sorry for the pun) of food television and porn, and writes:

“Like sex porn, gastroporn addresses the most basic human needs and functions, idealizing and degrading them at the same time. ‘You watch porn saying, Yes, I could do that,’ explained Nitke. ‘You dream that you’re there, but you know you couldn’t. The guy you’re watching on the screen, his sex life is effortless. He didn’t have to negotiate, entertain her, take her out to dinner. He walked in with the pizza. She was waiting and eager and hot for him.'”

Do people really watch food television wishing they could replicate what they’re seeing, and think they couldn’t do it themselves? Probably… But that is not enough though to draw a conclusion between food shows and porn flicks. The entire article isn’t only focused on this one point, however this one point symbolizes the flaws that Kaufman documents and Nitke states.

Let’s examine it closer. First, if the only requirement to be like porn was watching something you want to do but don’t think you could, than just about everything on television and in movies would be porn for the average person. Is football porn? How about a Coke commercial? Is being interviewed by Charlie Rose porn? I recommend reviewing the definition of porn. Clearly Nitke and Kaufman think that watching something that you want to do and thinking you can’t is porn. But perhaps their point is more about the likelihood of doing it or being able to do it?

That’s my second argument against their comparison. Maybe they’re drawing the comparison on the basis of likelihood of the scenario coming to fruition? The chance that the pizza guy is going to stumble in on two bi-sexual beauties in lingerie that want to jump him… in real life.. is incredibly low. The likelihood that someone could go into their kitchen and make a great meal is… in real life.. extremely high. Just because you choose not to do something doesn’t make it unlikely.

Anyway, I don’t want to meander too far off the topic of food. That’s what this blog is all about. However, I think that generally food shows are doing a great job of marketing, and we should keep in mind that beautiful food imagery is not porn. Now on that topic, go enjoy one of my favorite Flickr groups: Foodgasm.

posted by Lon at 05:25 PM Filed under Miscellaneous. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.