Sumptuous Texts: Consuming 'Otherness' in the Food Film Genre

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 00:07 -- ahhite
TitleSumptuous Texts: Consuming 'Otherness' in the Food Film Genre
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsShugart, H.A
JournalCritical Studies in Media Communication
Keywordsfilm, food studies

In recent years, food has played an increasingly prominent role in the mainstream media in a variety of ways. As one manifestation of this trend, “food films” have coalesced into a bona fide genre in contemporary popular culture. In this essay, I seek to contribute to the growing conversation regarding the symbolic role and rhetorical function of mediated representations of food. In an analysis of three films of that genre—Like Water for Chocolate, Chocolat, and Woman on Top—I argue that these films are unified not only insofar as they feature food but also, and more importantly, with respect to how they use food to engage and assuage anxieties attendant to contemporary cultural ambiguities and permeabilities, especially around race/ethnicity and gender. Specifically, I contend that these films offer food as a rhetorical device through which discourses of privilege are reconciled with and restabilised against contemporary practices of desire and consumption, especially (and increasingly) for and of the “Other.”