Appetites and Anxieties
Food, Film, and the Politics of Representation
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Wayne State University Press
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Introduction: The Cultural and Material Politics of Food Representations in Film
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Films depend on food. Slapstick comedies need pie-throwing scenes that escalate into brawls. To build their resolve, tough guys in westerns and action fi lms down shots of cheap liquor. Gangsters talk with their mouths full. Noir detectives drink alone. Comradeship leads soldiers and offi cers to share food and drink. Melodramas require disastrous...
1. Foodways as an Ideological Approach
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“Foodways” refers to “the entire complex of ideas and behaviors associated with food” (Lockwood 11). It concerns “the beliefs and behaviors surrounding the production, distribution, and consumption of food” (Counihan, Anthropology 2). This multidimensional concept provides a framework for investigating the cultural, aesthetic, and material dimensions...
2. Food and Film Industries: A Filter for the Food We See in Films
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Representations of food seen by large audiences refl ect the infl uence of commercial media’s century-long support of “mass consumption, especially of convenience foods” (Belasco, Appetite 156). Today, the vision of food as a consumer product and vehicle for selfexpression is continually reactivated by “advertising’s big four,” Omnicom, WPP Group...
3. Foodways Syntax: Utopian Films’ Use of Food to Create Community
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The influence of food companies such as Kraft, ConAgra, and Burger King and fi lm companies such as Paramount (Viacom), Twentieth Century Fox (News Corp.), and Universal (NBC) has long shaped depictions of food and food behavior in mainstream cinema. In recent decades, the film industry’s escalating involvement in co-promotions...
4. Foodways Structured to Convey Disorder and Dysfunction
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Sharing a collection of semantic elements, food films tend to be set in diners, kitchens, and restaurants. Stories focus on cooking, eating, and drinking. Interactions surrounding food products, recipe design, and food consumption convey characters’ changing relationships. However, food films also employ strikingly divergent...
5. When Humans Are the Food Product: An Ideological Look at Cannibal Films
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Cannibal films have a complex and unsettled relationship to food films. Discussing the food film genre that emerged in the 1980s, Anne Bower highlights the genre’s use of restaurants, kitchens, and food shops, and its focus on food as a means for conveying characters’ identities, social situations, and personal relations. Having identified...
6. Food as Threat and Promise: Genre and Auteur Analysis
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Cannibal films use violations of food taboos to explore the figurative consumption of individuals and cultures whose livelihoods and traditions are destroyed by “progress.” The films reveal that food behaviors are often fraught with contradiction. Even less sensational narratives reflect people’s conflicting associations with what they eat...
7. Foodways in Documentary Films: Consumer Society in a Wider Frame
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Fiction films weave foodways into their representations in genre-specific ways. Directors’ representations of food activities are sometimes integral to the meanings conveyed by their syntactical arrangement of narrative and mise-en-scène elements. Syntactical arrangements of foodway elements in fiction films create...
8. The Politics Surrounding Documentaries’ Depiction of Foodways
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Documentaries emphasize that food belongs to culture and nature. As a consequence, they indirectly illuminate fiction films’ focus on the cultural dimensions of foodways. Food documentaries also indirectly but vividly illustrate the politics surrounding representations of food in mainstream cinema because...
9. Food as a Window into Personal and Cultural Politics
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Food documentaries examine the material economy of food by exploring the full arc of foodways, from extraction to production to distribution to consumption and then on to disposal. Yet Hollywood sidelines fi lm products that fail to promote the mainstream vision of food as an expendable consumer product. Their limited distribution...
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Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2013
Volume Title: N/a
Series Title: Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series