man vs food adam richman and logo

Critical Perspectives on Man vs. Food

In the last decade or so it has often been suggested that we have been living through a golden-age of American television. Shows like The Sopranos, The Wire and Mad Men have stretched the boundaries of television and given us the kind of sophisticated accounts of society and human nature previously only seen in the highest of high-art. Whilst these programs are worthy in many ways one show stands head and shoulders above all others as the very pinnacle of American television: Man vs. Food. With as much semiotic information shoved into its skinny twenty minutes of screen time as fast-food guzzled by its charismatic star Adam Richman the show offers a feast for if thought for the cultural carnivores of The Empty Page radical publishing house. Here are three all new and exclusive radical roastings of the tastiest show on television.

Man is Murder: a Vegan-Feminist analysis of Man vs. Food by ‘arry Redknap

Man vs. Food, it must be man mustn’t it? Man, yes always man, man attempting to prove his pathetic domination over inanimate objects. Man gorging his guts to prove himself the alpha of the pack. Man, given free range to indulge his desires will simply eat himself fatter. Man, like a fat fox let loose in the chicken-shed he kills everything in sight without regard to the simple fact he cannot possibly eat a fraction of it. Man at his most corpulent, barbaric and beastly, this is man in the state of nature, this is the patriarchy feasting on the flesh of innocently slain animals. Man vs. Food is a warning, a grave warning of where we are headed if we do not renounce the military –industrial-meat-complex that is systematically stripping the flesh from the bones of our world.

man vs food presenter adam richman hides behind a giant burger

A Real Slice of America: an Ethnographic survey of Man vs. Food by Juande Ramos

America is the ultimate melting-pot, a human smorgasbord of cultures and ethnicities. What better way of celebrating this than via the culinary questing of Adam Richman? Whilst, the eating challenges are the hook the show is hung upon the real joy is in the gusto which our increasingly rotund host embraces the culinary cultures of each location he visits. From rust belt to Bible belt, from BBQ in the bayou to burgers in the Bronx we are invited to consider the folk culture of a nation via its most fundamental means of expression. Food is essential for the survival not just of humans but culture itself. In these time-honoured recipes, handed down from generation to generation, we see the stories and myths of whole societies. The slices of salt-beef, the perfectly pulled pork, the chilli chicken wings: these are the dishes that tell the stories of people ignored in the written histories.

The Consumer Consumed: a Marxist critique of Man vs Food by Martin Jol

Man vs. Food is the ultimate symbol of the fundamental paradox at the heart of American capitalism. Post-Fordist man is so alienated that he is forced to compete not just with other human beings but with the very food that is supposed to nourish him: competition is inoculated into the most basic of bodily functions.  The eater’s alienation is so complete that consumption is his only means of self-expression. He may stuff his face with as many hot-dogs, hoagies, burgers and bagels as his body can tolerate but at the end of the day his only reward is a cheap t-shirt or a Polaroid on a wall of fame: his triumph is illusory, his gut is full but his spirit is unfulfilled. In today’s neo-liberal society we are all stuffing ourselves with commodities which fail to nourish us: we are all Adam Richman.

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