Bite Me: Food in Popular Culture

By Fabio Parasecoli | Go to book overview

Afterword: A Plea for Pleasure

In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism
or a politics of hope?

Obama 2007

Food studies is a developing discipline. An enticing feature of this new field of study is that it can encompass many approaches and different topics that range from history to sociology, from anthropology to women's studies, and nutrition. However, in the search of recognition from more established academic quarters, little attention has been paid to aspects that would fall under the heading of cultural or media studies, especially those belonging to popular culture. We cannot underestimate the impact of communication on the ways we perceive, consume, and produce food. On the other hand, food plays such an important role in human life that it emerges in many aspects of our culture, as well as in those apparently less connected with it. Developing an analytical framework to handle these topics is an important task for food studies and this book aims to be a contribution in that direction. I hope readers have enjoyed giving a second, maybe fresher look to everyday objects and facts, including our own practices and ideas, to achieve a better grasp of how much food shapes our lives, our mental worlds, and our cultural identities.

However, as useful as these critical tools prove to be, they might not be enough, if we want to turn intellectual understanding into action, from everyday choices at the grocery shop to wider social and political issues.

In the past few years I have been teaching some very stimulating courses about food in pop culture and in movies (at least stimulating for me to teach, but I think the students liked them too). I thoroughly enjoy the whole experience. I must admit that I get a kick out of pop culture, including the campy, slapstick, and over-fhe-top varieties. Being involved with the media, it was only natural for me to look for food in all its expressions, especially those where the connection with food is less evident. Many movies have food at their core: it is enough to mention Babette 's Feast, or Like Water for Chocolate. These films have already become the objects of research and reflection for academics and movie critics. But what about cartoons, or B-movies? These genres have not been included in the literature and arts canons (at least not yet), and consequently they have often been left out of classrooms and serious discussions, even if they are the object of a wide interest that surfaces in magazines, blogs, and talk shows. The same goes for literary genres such as horror

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