What’s Wrong With ‘Man v. Food’ (Redux)

I have a pretty strict rule of approving every comment but responding to none, no matter how profound and insightful or vacuous and petty they may be. It isn’t always pleasant, but it is fair, which might be the most one can hope for in the blogosphere.  It is also how I’ve managed, pending this post, the acrimonious chatter suffusing the comment box for my latest missive. Some bloggers thrive on lowbrow, anonymously angry debate, and I suppose that’s their prerogative – another de facto truism of blogland – but that’s not me. I’m not here to argue with you; I’m not here to insult you; I am simply here to share with you – with the benefit of a career spent reading and sifting through data, a few hot pans and some really sharp knives, and no small amount of reflection – whatever small thing that I think I may have learned about the world, through the lens of my kitchen. You may love it, hate it, or simply relegate it to the dustbin of uninteresting bookmarks, but all I ask is that it gets read.
Having said that, every so often the level of discourse gets so pervasively toxic, and with such little substance, that I feel compelled to drag it some small distance from the gutter. There are precious few actual arguments buried in the aforementioned slew of invective, and I see little point in responding to every childish and ignorant comment, but to those of you who actually tried to say something constructive, I wanted to say that I’m listening, that I take your points seriously, and here are my few cents’ worth of response:

  • If I insulted you vicariously because you love the show, it wasn’t intentional and I’m sorry for the slight, but I stand by my point: You’re worse off for having done so. Not a worse person, a person who is worse off. There is a difference.
  • Some of you took issue with my incomplete characterization of what the show is about, which is true enough, although irrelevant, because whatever additional content the show may offer, whatever entertainment value it may provide to you, is not the point. The show itself is not the point. The point is (or was meant to be) that I love to cook and I love to eat and it saddens me that so many of our attitudes toward food belie precisely what is most wonderful about it. The point is that certain aspects of shows like Man v. Food may entertain, but at the cost of propagating the very worst of these attitudes, and these costs are real and material, if nonpecuniary. The point is, you should love what you eat, and what you eat should love you back.
  • I readily concede that I could simply change the channel (just as you could navigate away from this thread), but I reject the implied criticism as specious and, when taken to its logical limit, dangerously irresponsible. Should we never speak out about that which we feel is wrong, so long as we can conveniently avoid seeing it? Really? (Isn’t this why you wrote the critique, and why it’s incumbent upon me to allow you to post it?)

As to the rest, if you consider wallpapering me with unoriginal and small-minded insults under the guise of a pseudonym to be a productive use of your time, then the most I can offer is to say that I’m really very sorry that your mother didn’t breastfeed you long enough.
So we’re clear: You are welcome, and indeed encouraged, to disagree with me. No matter how well or poorly formed your argument, no matter how kindly or rudely you express it, and always provided that you don’t violate my paper’s editorial guidelines, I will post it without qualification. That being said, I would respectfully request that you keep the dialogue intelligible, on-thread, and civil, in which case you’ll stand a far better chance of being taken seriously about whatever it is that got your knickers in a twist in the first place. Conventionally acceptable spelling and grammar are nice, too. You are, of course, perpetually free to ignore me, although I’d prefer to disagree than never to know one another. At least, in the main.