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Pork Underbelly

Article by Jessica Critcher, appeared in issue Reverb; published in 2011; filed under Internet culture; tagged eating contest, web series.
The Sexual Politics of (Lots and Lots of) Meat

If you know your way around an Internet meme, you've probably heard of the online cooking show Epic Meal Time, a Food Network–meets–Jackass celebration of heart-clogging lowbrow cuisine. Each Tuesday, its rowdy Canadian creators cook up something both imaginative (Chili Four Loko, for instance), gross (meat salad), or, more likely, both (the Thanksgiving episode found them taking Turducken a few carnivorous steps further, stuffing five different game birds into a pig). Since the show's premiere on YouTube in October 2010, EMT's channel has gotten more than 14 million views, and the hosts have appeared on The Tonight Show and ABC News; at press time, a TV show is being pitched to Comedy Central, Spike TV, and the Discovery Network.

The show has become understandably famous for its humor, its gratuitous use of bacon, and the creators' proud disregard for suggested fat and cholesterol intake. (Each episode features a calorie and fat count with numbers that regularly reach the tens of thousands.) But what's been less discussed is EMT's more uncomfortably cavalier attitude toward women. Though the show regularly features guest eaters, female ones are present only when the day's dish is appropriately sexualized: In one episode, a giant dessert crepe is eaten, hands-free, by two young women who are filmed from angles best described as "blowjob-esque." And in the episode titled "Massive Meat Log," host Harley Morenstein addresses his audience thus: "We all know that no one wants to see a douchebag eat a corndog. So we brought a little girl in for all you perverts." (The camera cuts away to reveal a group of men sitting across from said woman, smiling.)

 

Isn't making a giant corndog out of three different kinds of meat extreme enough? Why add a decidedly creepy, exploitative attitude toward women to the mix? Well, one theory is that, in general, cooking shows are fairly tame, and by infusing the show with sexual imagery and innuendo (e.g., "fast-food bukkake"), the dudes behind EMT are simply distancing themselves as much as possible from the likes of Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee. But in blurring the lines between sex and food to create a new type of cooking show, they reinforce a very stale image of masculinity, and make a connection between women and meat that's pretty difficult to stomach. I'm no vegetarian, but no amount of humor or delicious bacon will mask the aftertaste of sexism.

If you know your way around an Internet meme, you've probably heard of the online cooking show Epic Meal Time, a Food Network–meets–Jackass celebration of heart-clogging lowbrow cuisine. Each Tuesday, its rowdy Canadian creators cook up something both imaginative (Chili Four Loko, for instance), gross (meat salad), or, more likely, both (the Thanksgiving episode found them taking Turducken a few carnivorous steps further, stuffing five different game birds into a pig). The show has become understandably famous for its humor, its gratuitous use of bacon, and the creators' proud disregard for suggested fat and cholesterol intake. (Each episode features a calorie and fat count with numbers that regularly reach the tens of thousands.) But what's been less discussed is EMT's more uncomfortably cavalier attitude toward women.

Comments

4 comments have been made. Post a comment.

I'm disappointed to hear that

I'm disappointed to hear that Epic Meal Time has started doing this. I first came upon them some time ago, and did not notice much sexism of this nature in their earlier posts. The "Fast Food Sushi" episode, for example, has a female person eating the food in a non-sexualized manner (she's just as gross as the guys! Yay!), though she does not have a speaking role. Other episodes featured women and men eating the finished products together, and no one had a speaking part but the creators.

It's a shame. I really liked the way that guy said "ham" with his Canadian accent.

This is really infuriating

I hate this so much. I thought EMT was funny when I first came across it, but these episodes are truly insulting. Plus, was all the jizzy icing on the crepes REALLY necessary?

I know it is a bad breach of feminism to criticize the ladies here (especially because, given the show's popularity, I am sure it was tempting for young women to go on the show in any capacity), but I just can't stomach the thought of a woman who so happily and seemingly obliviously lets herself be used like this.

Ew.

What's up with the formatting

What's up with the formatting of this article - the first paragraph repeats at the end.

Food Shows

I have always loved cooking shows such as Iron chef and Cupcake wars things along those lines but this concept rather grosses me out. Not even the fact that there forcing a sexual nature on things yes that’s rather messed up but overall what’s with all the meat. I don’t understand the need to want to have a heart attack by forcing yourself to eat 5 different types of meat at once that’s not good for you and while our society is in dispirit need to teach people how to eat healthy this goes in the extreme opposite direction.