Wednesday, April 21

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Allen Salkin "Newcomer to Food Television Tries for a Little Grit". April 20

MIND you, this is the country which continues unabated its forty-year discussion on just how much carpet bombing is necessary to turn the rest of the world into cut-rate versions of itself:
The people who brought the brassy calorie-pusher Paula Deen, the energetic spice-sprinkler Emeril Lagasse and dozens of other stars to a mass audience are furiously preparing to start a spinoff network on May 31.

Called the Cooking Channel, it is lining up low-key programs targeted at a hipper crowd interested in the grass roots of food culture….

“The feel and style we’re going for is a little grittier, a little edgier, a little hipper,” said Bruce Seidel, the senior vice president for programming and production for the Cooking Channel.

Over/Under on "First Breakout Gritty, Edgy, Hipper Cooking Channel 'Star' Putting His Face on the Same Goddam Cheap-ass Aluminum Cookware Endorsed, in Sequence, by Emeril Lagasse, Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, and Giada De Laurentiis": 16 months. I'm guessing Mr. Seidel sees that as an endorsement.

There is, of course, no reason whatsoever to imagine that anything short of Apocalypse will ever free us from the sort of society where Senior Vice Presidents for Programming, Marketing, or Butt Rape say things like "a little edgier, a little hipper" and aren't immediately stomped into a puddle. And listen, last Saturday afternoon I went shopping at the Bloatville Mall. You cannot underestimate the American consumer. Full stop. And it's not for lack of a goddam conveyor belt of Trying.

I just wanna know how, in the most Bronze-Aged-Superstitious country still left on the planet, the Obviously Soul Dead get away with running things right out in the open. Look, when flailing your arms, scrunching your nose, showing more cleavage every season, or drawling like the hammiest Edmund Pettus impersonator in the entire Civil War Reenactment Biz comes to be taken as Classic Food Show Host Behavior, and too stodgy for the choice Hipster demo, you missed a wakeup call or exit ramp about ten years back.

I was talking to my neighbor last weekend while we were both engaging in garden cleanup, and she mentioned some trick she'd learned on HGTV. "They have gardening shows on HGTV?" I said.

Food Network is concerned about falling ratings. or aging "personalities", or staling concepts? What's the fucking problem? Fer chrissakes, when was the last decade in which Music Television had the remotest thing to do with music? Check with The Learning Channel, Arts and Entertainment, Bravo (the Performing Arts Channel), History Channel, Biography Channel, Discover, or the National Geographic, let alone whatever turned into or became of Spike, G4, Versus, The Nashville Network, and a couple dozen I've forgotten. Why not just do what they did, and turn your programming over to hunky carpenters, tank-topped interior designers, and endless reruns of Jesus/Noah's Ark/Nostradamus infotainment? You don't even need a name change, though you might resort to acronym; the rest of today's viewing day's pleasure on CMT (Country Music Television): The World's Strictest Parents, followed by The World's Strictest Parents; two episodes of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, then two of Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy, then two more Extremes (or the same two again, I didn't bother checking); Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, and we ask you again, and you can close out your viewing pleasure with four shots of The Singing Bee. Fer chrissakes, that's more colons than have appeared in the eighty-five years of the Grand Ole Opry, just for starters.

And, look, it's bad enough that Vice Presidents of Programming have about as much dedication to honesty, propriety, and reality as former Vice Presidents of the United States Under Bush Administrations; it has to take the same abject unconcern with real world consequences--hell, let's just make that The Very Foundations of Meaning Itself--to say "edgier, grittier, hipper" as to connect Saddam Hussein to 9/11. What's much worse is that we keep rewarding them. How much fucking expertise does it take to say "appeal to a hipper, edgier demographic"? How much did it take to say, "appeal to an ill-informed bunch of Xenophobic nationalists and their desire to bomb the living shit out of someone from 30,000 feet--so long as they don't personally have to leave their living rooms--while the blood is still in their ears?" And how much different do the results usually turn out to be?

Food's one of the lively arts. I sure don't think we have to be stodgy about it, but I do think it'd be nice if something called The Food Network took it semi-seriously as a tradition, as a part of life, as something where real knowledge, not trendy eyewear, is rewarded, rather than as just another vehicle for selling ad time to miracle wipes. And I think it'd be nice if, say once in the next twenty-five years, unlike the last, someone in a similar position said something like, "You know, maybe we could try cutting out the schtick altogether and doing the job right for once."

11 comments:

KWillow said...

I'm waiting for the FoNet to start airing biographies of famous gourmands, like, say Louis XIV. They could do a little sub-bio of his most famous mistress, Madame de Montespan, who had a weight problem, possibly due to trying to keep up with the King's appetite?

http://french-history.suite101.com/article.cfm/strange_eating_habits_of_louis_xiv

"There was nothing little about this meal, however. At 1:00 each day, the Sun King sat at an enormous table in his bedchamber as servants presented him with a feast. His lunchtime menu included:

* Four different bowls of soup
* A whole, stuffed pheasant
* A partridge, chicken, or duck
* Mutton with garlic gravy
* Two pieces of ham
* Hard-boiled eggs
* Three heaping salads
* A plate full of pastries, fruits, and jams

Louis devoured it all. Men from the court stood and watched with amazement, and the royal doctors watched with worry. (Later, after the Sun King's death, doctors would discover that his stomach and intestines were twice the normal size.)

Next: Marie Antoinette's famous Desserts! Napoleon's ... pastrys!

John Daly said...

Dude prolly owes his longevity (damn near made it to 77) to those three heaping salads

"Louis XIV did not like to be distracted while he ate, so he forbade all dinner conversation."

Can't talk, eating.

"Later, after the Sun King's death, doctors would discover that his stomach and intestines were twice the normal size."

Let me finish my coffee. Then we'll go watch 'em slice this fat bastard up.

scripto said...

I already do gritty. No one seems to like it. They keep bitching about their teeth. I did snails (well, slugs to be precise)on a bed of lettuce straight out of the garden once, too. That was edgy.

heydave said...

I often have a quick breakfast while leaning, edgily, against the kitchen counter.

BillCinSD said...

I am waiting for the Alien Diet show on the Food Network -- it works so well for Discover and History to go with the aliens.

or a caveman cooking show sponsored by Geico. That can't be any worse than the network comedy show that lasted an episode or twp

heydave said...

I think cavemen and grit go together well!

Narya said...

Things for which Versus is good: hockey games, including the playoffs; Tour de France. Does this make up for that wrestling crap, or the rodeos? I don't know, I won't watch the latter.

Things for which Bravo is good: Top Chef (even when it annoys me). Does this make up for all the "reality" shows? Prolly not, but I still like watching the chefs.

Food Channel sucks, though.

Grace Nearing said...

Things for which Bravo is good: Top Chef (even when it annoys me). Does this make up for all the "reality" shows?

Narya: Maybe you're too young to remember, but Bravo used to show foreign movies and the kind of quirky independent films I love. Sigh. They would even run Kurosawa marathons.

As good as Top Chef may be, it's just not Kurosawa.

LateToTheParty said...

One of the lowest crimes of the internet is the fact that your essays have 9 comments instead of the 900 they deserve.

Thanks for all you do.

Anonymous said...

Great blog, fine comments -
but Bravo (I believe run by some elite liberal arts-type graduates) is absolutely to be commended, given awards, endlessly praised, for having the courage to present the most odious, highly instructive, most corrupt piece of horrific accurate art ever produced -

The Real Housewives of Orange County.

Words will never do justice to the sublime, ineffable terror of that show about our fellow Americans. I live by it. Thanks, Bravo - bringing the ethics of the Mafia to cable DVR for decades.

The Sailor said...

DHR,

You forgot the most important ingredient, follow the money.

While we were promised 500 channels so every little niche market would have a say, the NewsCorpse of the world gobbled them up. We still have 500 channels ... controlled by 5 media companies.

And teh intertubes is quickly following in their bootprints.