Previous Post
Food for the City
Next Post
Chef’s Table

Happy Happy, Joy Joy

Food and TV sound like a match made in heaven. That is, of course, until you become obese...

So here’s a troubling scenario. You've had enough traffic for one week and decide to spend Saturday in your room. You proceed to smoke up, order in, and scan Bey2ollak so you can laugh at the poor suckers who were stupid enough to venture out and are now stuck in the red zones. Ten hours later you wake up to find yourself sitting on your couch in your underwear watching television, one hand holding the remnants of a chili cheese dog and the other stuck down the front of your shorts. On TV you find Homer Simpson on his couch in his underwear doing the exact same thing.

Somewhere along the line something has gone terribly wrong. Food and television have become a toxic combination. We didn’t have this problem when I was growing up, but it is most assuredly our fault that you do now.

When I was a kid we were aware that there was this invention called television and that on this invention they showed shows. They also used to have these things called TV trays that we would set up in the living room because, and I know this sounds weird, back in the day families only had one television set. Upon our TV trays we placed our frozen TV dinners that had been warmed up in the oven. So you were good to go.

Sunday nights were prime for this because that’s when they aired the Wonderful World of Disney. There was no cable, no satellite, no Cartoon Network, no Disney Channel: it was just one show, once a week; you prayed that they would run some cartoons (instead of some dorky animal show) and you prayed that your factory-produced, aluminum-encased meal had more desserts than vegetables. We now know that consuming frozen TV dinners from TV trays placed in front of the television set was a horrible idea. And they tasted horrible. But it was one of the things that made it so much fun to be a kid in those years, and it definitely made us realize that TV and food go pretty good together.

When we got older and went into business for ourselves, the more creative among us brought all these childhood experiences to bear on the next generation, hence Homer Simpson, couch surfing, fast food, and the wholesale destruction of a healthy way of life.

Today we positively celebrate consumption and obesity. Ted Bundy sits on his couch eating and watching TV with his hand stuck down his pants as well. There are food shows now and entire networks of food porn and programming entirely devoted to excess. Like Adam Richman’s Man vs. Food, where you can watch the host eat against the clock to devour a 72 oz. steak with sides or a 7 ½ pound burger.

This is Saturday night. Monday morning, we get Oprah Winfrey doing some story about some guy who had become so obese he was no longer able to exit from his own bedroom and in serious danger of getting himself nominated for a Darwin Award by conniving to remove his own genes from the gene pool through methane asphyxiation.

So, yeah, we’re conflicted. It’s a worldwide phenomenon to be sure, but it’s kind of America’s fault because it came up with the cartoons and the TV dinners and the fast food and the 24-hour satellite television programming and characters such as Homer and Ted and Alan and for God’s sake Scooby and Shaggy—the poster boys for stoner over-eating and the celebration of sloth. And, have you ever seen Honey Boo Boo?

At least, though, us poor fat bastards have learned how to laugh at our own stupidity. Like the episode on South Park where Cartman decides to face his weight problem:

“Fuck, Kyle. I’m fat! I’m fuckin’ fat as fuckin’ fuck. I’ve got to do something about this!”

And so he does …