I have mixed (vegetable) feelings about cooking shows.
You see, I don’t eat animals. I don’t like the politics of eating animals. I think a suffering animal is tragic and horrifying and profoundly affective for me. I was presented with a fistulated cow the other day in science class; for those not in the know, that means a cow with a window cut in its body. I couldn’t look at it. It terrorizes me.
So cooking shows. They often have meat in them. Meat cooking. Scu has written about the affective moment of the meat aisle, and that’s what I’m talking about above. Meat, flesh, the cut-off part of a living animal, that gives me a profound sense of mourning a life that was.
But not meat on cooking shows.
I think that it has to be something about the way the violence is shown. Cooking shows have the same kind of mediation that action movies have. There’s a goal, something that is being done, and the casualties on-screen are given up (sacrificed) to that end. I don’t feel any kind of emotion when I watch The Expendables, but Antichrist or films of people dying on YouTube…those things mark me, marr me, make me leave the room, stunt me.
And so the cooking show is for animal life what the action film is to human life. It mediates–even beyond my attempted “avowal of animal life” in Stanescu terms–so that the animal becomes object, ingredient, in the same way that a nameless villain who gets cut in half with machine gun fire does.
It feels dangerous.