The success of “epic meal time”

In my blog post I want to go back a little to the topic of eating and the connection to the American culture. Some of my male friends totally enjoy themselves these days in watching episodes of “epic meal time”. This are videos a group of young men posts on YouTube. Every week a new one. In their videos the prepare and eat extremely high-calorie meals, mostly with meat and alcohol. They take some typical American meals like “mac and cheese” or burgers and take them to the extreme. For example they once prepared a meal for thanksgiving where they stuffed five birds inside each other and in the end they stuffed the five birds in a pig and smoked it. When they all eat it in the end they eat very grossly and use big wooden spoons to stuff the food into themselves. The presenter, called Harley Morenstein, uses hip-hop slang and they themselves say about their videos they are like  “Jackass in the kitchen”. I personally find it quite gross but it is actually very popular. My question now is why do so many people watch it and enjoy themselves.

Of course it is something like a carnival spectacle where people do strange things. People are amazed when they watch them eating this many calories. It resembles the hype about competitive eating. It is just not normal to stuff themselves with that much food. But also the preparation is exciting. They use ingredients normally used in American kitchens. Like bacon strips beef patties or just meat. On top of that they play with the stereotype of Americanism. Jack Daniel´s is used very often as a “typical” American drink. So are the Americans interested in it because the videos make fun of their own lifestyle? And do European spectators enjoy it because it makes fun about someone else and not themselves.

When we discussed the reverse-makeover in supersize-me we discussed the text of Bailey. One of her arguments was that the success of McDonald´s and the fatness of many Americans is a consequence of 9/11. The Americans try to feel safe in their country and therefore eat. Because of the thread to their culture due to Islamist terrorism they try to take it to an extreme. Like in the epic meal time videos. The fact that McDonald´s as an “American export” spreads all over the words is seen as an expansion of the American culture. When they use the typical American meals in the videos they also help spreading their culture. Many people are interested in the was the culture is lived in the videos.

Extremes are the next argument I want to use. America sees itself, and is seen by others, as a land of extremes. The most beautiful, and richest supermodels and Hollywood stars, many different cultures and great diversities of landscape and culture exist there. If something strange happens it is always said “Only in American can something like this happen”. Extremes are always interesting and looked at. Something that is not normal is exciting. A normal American cooking show would never get so many views on YouTube. It is just enormously funny and disgusting to watch them prepare their gigantic meals and stuff their stomachs with them.

Like the people watch eating competitions they watch this. About eating competitions we said that part of it is the fulfillment of the childhood dream to just eat as much as you can and as fast as you can until your stomach is filled up. Fagone also said in his “Horseman of the Esophagus” that it is a part of American culture. The American people is a people of immigrants. They came to America because the abundance of food they expected to be there. They created these meals like the turkey for thanksgiving and made it their culture. Overeating is just a dream many children especially from poorer families or with many siblings have. To be able to eat as much as you want even though you know that it might be unhealthy makes many people happy. In the end it is still a little miracle to my why people find this so amusing.

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