Food Porn…

Really, respect the food? I think I must write more about this later (but, after STA’s Father’s Day Celebration)….

Addendum as of 6.21.10: When I first saw this advertisement, I was blinded by the ginormous phallus; the text, “respect the food” seemed superfluous. (Before I forget to mention it, this is an advertisement for Subzero refrigerators in the latest Bon Appetit). Having had some time to think about it (and discuss with STA who smugly said, “You didn’t get the text and its relation to the image? I saw it right away!”), I am almost more disturbed and bothered by the text than I am the image. Okay, I am disturbed by what they seem to suggest in relation to each other. Is it merely an accident (ha!) that right above the command to “respect the food” is a big penis? Seriously, what is your reading of this image + text?

I originally posted this advertisement here because I thought that the food porn phenomenon (which I first read about here), has some troubling consequences for how we think about and consume our food. And, I thought that thinking about food as porn (and only as an object of lust–maybe porn isn’t the right word here?) might be one of the habits that should be broken if many of us (especially viewers of Food Network) were to cultivate better and more ethical relationships with/to food. Did that make sense? Anyway, now that I reflect more on the ad copy, I wonder what other habits (particularly ones that involve the primary signifier) need to be collectively (as opposed to individually) broken?

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5 Responses to Food Porn…

  1. Pingback: oh bother, part 13 | (Making / Being in / Staying in) TROUBLE

  2. Anne says:

    What I find visually interesting about this image is that the yellow stalk looks less like a shaft and more like a sharp knife while the green gloves scream out testicles, testicles, testicles. The tagline is odd. Respect the food? Is this some sort of ritual that is in process? There is an inherent element of care, nuturing and comfort that goes into food preparation (and is associated with food in its unprepared and edible state). But here that seems to be superceded by the strong graphic phallic imagery. Whew.

    The whole concept of food porn is interesting. Linking food and sex seems prevelant in food marketing (and a bit tired) – whether ads, recipes or restaurants. One pet theory is that it supposed to tap into the quest for pleasure center in the brain. I find it stupid a lot of the time and I know I’m not alone. I want to eat my food – isn’t that the adage we’re supposed to follow – eat your food, don’t play with it?

  3. SLP says:

    That’s really interesting that you see a knife there. Is this some sort of fear of castration/emasculation thing? Respect the food, or else? Ugh…too much Freud for my taste! Of course, any analysis of the primary signifier requires Freud or at least Lacan, I guess…I like your mention of food as connected to comfort, care and nurturing in relation to the idea of respect. It is disturbing how that idea (one that is so often closely linked with women-as-cooks-and-caregivers) is undercut by the violent intrusion of the knife. So, do you think this ad is directed at any type of audience in particular?

    • Anne says:

      Well, actually (as no surprise at all), I do. While the following stereotype does not hold as true as it once did (see Top Chef and to some extent Top Chef Masters), the male food preparer is a “chef” and the female food preparer is an assistant or “cook.” These are gross stereotypes, but, hey, stereotypes exist for a reason – to wonder why they exist at all. There is nothing wrong with being a cook or a chef or a sous chef. All of these roles engage with food to produce an experience for the beneficiary of their toil. BUT, there is a prestige associated with chef. A chef is an artist. I wouldn’t dispute this. The food porn is part of this incredibly elaborate creation of the artist devising orgasmic experiences through food. But what is interesting, is that food porn is not geared toward professionals. Food porn production exists in the world of food magazines and foodie blogs. Actual people at the aforementioned organizations truly do love food and cook, but they have set themselves apart (why, I don’t know, it just seems that way to me). I enjoy food magazines (primarily for the recipes) and have loads of cookbooks. But I’m a proud cook, not a chef, and I would never aspire to be. So in my long winded response, I think this ad is directed at those individuals who are cooks (or sometime cooks or sometime assisters in the kitchen or at the campfire or even those who love to eat but wouldn’t think of actually cooking themselves not that there is anything wrong with that but who consider them very knowledgable about food). So these are ads are a complete fantasy – the product of marketing and specialized photographs and clever taglines. Oh the Freud references (I think Lacan is giving it too much), I’m glad you stayed awake in Soc 101. So there you have it, cyncial and too long, but right on target (especially if your target is the core of a unctious ruby ripe red tomato with a droplet of juice right in the center and a sheen of morning dew on the edge of the skin).

  4. SLP says:

    Wow–I really love that you have so much to say about this! And I really enjoy reading what you think–are you sure you don’t want to try a guest post or two (or more) on this blog? Your amazing abilities as a cook have always inspired me.