In the latest issue of Meatpaper, Chris Ying deconstructs our love for watching men masticate curious things on television. His equation–dubbed the “unattractive men/unattractive meat narrative” or “UM/UM”–is this: “the weirder-looking you are, the weirder the food you have to eat.” He writes, rather scathingly, that UM/UM explains why “an acid-washed porcupine” like Guy Fieri is forced to scarf the slickest, homeliest burgers in the country (though he seems to dig it), while bitsy Giada De Laurentiis tucks away much tidier pieces of chicken and the occasional mini meatball. After grappling briefly with the consequences of his media equation, Ying has these final words:
In all honesty, we can’t really blame television for overfishing, or for lousy, overpriced renditions of street food in upscale restaurants. Nor can we blame TV for aspiring housewives lusting after organic home gardens and Hamptons beach houses. It’d be like blaming porn for teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. It’s all just entertainment. And at the end of the day, food television, like porn, is irrevocably and essentially unsatisfying. They keep turning us on, but we keep watching, mouths watering and agape in horror.