Thursday, December 06, 2007

Everyone is Stupid (but me)

I woke up in an absolutely awful mood today. I kind of think I know why, and it's totally irrational, but that's the way it is.

Anyhow, its just been downhill since I rolled out of bed. I had to clean up cat barf, and then it was raining outside and its supposed to be 85 degrees today and tomorrow, and something like 89% humidity. Which makes me irritated with all the "global warming is a hippie fraud" people. And even more irritated with people who live up north who try to extol the virtues of global warming.

Anyhow, I'm having an ego-filled day, feeling as if everyone else is stupid but me. Including cats, dogs, radio DJs, journalists (does she really not see what an unpleasant and self-absorbed person this article makes her out to be? Yikes), other drivers, the people who made the Monster Cable I use to attach my iPod to my car, and, lastly, parking lots that slope.

Today I am in a bad mood.

And, oddly, what's driven me there is food. I don't want to discuss the conversation, because were I in a better mood, I would not care. But here's the deal:

I don't care if people are gourmands, but I do not understand when a particular taste in food is used as a moral judgment on those who don't share their income, lifestyle or palette. If you call yourself a "foodie", super. Seriously. I can understand the love of food as art form and sensory experience. But what bugs the heck out of me is when one assumes that others who do not share their passion for foods are somehow intellectually inferior or unable to embrace the true nectar of life in the way only the gourmand can.

I know I think about food in much the same way as any other sense-based activity. Can you appreciate music if you are unable to afford a trip to the opera or symphony? Or if you prefer the music of Hank Williams to Puccini? Or if the art on your wall is a framed poster of Starry Night versus owning your own Magritte? Is a grilled fajita taco really inferior to Authentic Interior Mexican? Is such a distinction elitist, if not bordering on some sort of insinuated perception of Mexican Americans as second class versus people who happen to live further south?

Moreover, food is ephemeral. Paying $30 - 100 for a single meal is not something which scales terribly well across the average person's budget once paying the bills enters the picture. When you need to put a coat on your kid, or you need to get them a pair of soccer shoes, delicately buttered asparagus, sprinkled with goat cheese may not be where you get to spend your money. Paying for a singular sensory experience may not be where the family budget needs to go.

I have a particular issue with those so spoiled on the food around them that they've turned a blind eye to the opportunities. Places like Austin are not known for their food in the same manner as New Orleans, San Francisco or New York. But neither is Austin without fairly decent places if one is willing to look outside their neighborhood and can spend a dollar.

Historically, the idea of one's status as a gourmand was something only the Rich Uncle Pennybags' of the world could even think of aspiring to, while the rest of the population was boiling potatoes and cabbage, with meat considered a luxury. The food that people could get their hands on was grown locally and seasonally, and generally took a hell of a lot of effort. It's only been within the lifetime of Gen X'ers that one could expect to eat cherries year round in any grocery in America, or head down to the grocer's for oranges, shipped in off-season from Australia. Only in this generation could the upper-middle class even consider experiencing the wealth of opportunity available to them as new waves of immigrants brought new kinds of food to the US and eating at restaurants was no longer mostly a luxury.

With the Frugal Gourmet and Julia Child entering into our living rooms, and an influx of upscale cuisine from around the world (with both a market for the food, and those who would actually know how to make it present), it's an opportunity to move beyond the food our parents and their parents had available, let alone were aware of. In many ways, is looking down upon those who do not share your obsession a form of chronological snobbery, or just plain old class or regional snobbery?

This is not to suggest I think food as art is any less important, nor should one NOT have discriminating taste or enjoy as many types of food as the world can cook up. Or that I believe all food to be equal. As subjective as taste is, and as subjective as each diner's experience, I'd certainly never make that argument. But I do take exception to the idea that those who cannot afford fine or exotic dining, or who do not have a wide variety of options open to them are fools for enjoying the foods available to them and are, by insinuation, some sort of culinary second class citizen.

It is one thing to appreciate the subtleties of new and exciting foods, or to cook them yourself. Just, you know... keep it in perspective for the love of Mike.

I happened upon this quote, and I wonder if it applies:

"It is better to be a good ordinary bourgeois than a bad ordinary bohemian." [Aldous Huxley, 1930]

Speed Racer

Because you guys were so excited about the link to the Speed Racer photos I posted earlier, here's a link to a trailer for Speed Racer.

Looks like silly summertime entertainment to me. But it also seems to be the second movie (Beowulf being the first) that is a blend of animation and live actors that's the legacy of the latest slate of Star Wars movies. Movies certainly are no longer constrained by sets, lights and in-camera effects. It was just a matter of time before filmmakers started using/ abusing the palette of CGI to create environments which reflected outlandish worlds into which to drop their stories.

(edit: I have ignored the rich legacy of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings adaptations. Please forgive.)

I want to be clear: This doesn't look terrifically intellectually stimulating, but it does look like a bizarre literal translation of the 6 frames per second animation we all grew up with. A great idea? I dunno. I confess to being a bit curious to see the thing just to see how it works.


J.S. said...

Well, the Speed Racer movie looks like an interesting experiment, but two hours of that stuff is bound to make my head hurt. It's funny to see them incorporate the classic anime action shot background blur into some of the closeup shots of Speed.

I think one of the main issues with this movie is the simple fact that CG effects have begun to rob us, as a moviegoing audience, of our ability to be awed and amazed by the things we see on screen. We used to know that film had some basis in reality (no matter how much the film had been altered, somewhere under there was a picture that someone had taken), but now we know that the things we see on screen are often little more than computer rendered drawings. They may be impressive, but more in the way that an especially imaginative or beautiful drawing or painting is impressive- not in the "how the hell did they manage to do that?" sense of awe inspiring.
CG rendering may slowly rob us of one variety of the sense of wonder that we used to feel when watching the special effects of movies, but CG is part of the evolution of filmmaking, and it might just, in the end, return the emphasis to the story that's being told rather than just trying to impress audiences with special effects. It's still possible to be awed by the movies, but we should probably be made impressed by the stories and the way that they're conveyed rather than simply by special effects, anyway.

The League said...

From a quick look, this is going to be a pat story with stock, familiar characters in order to make way for the visuals. In short, aside from the spectacle of the thing, I'm not sure what it will have to offer.

I do agree that the gee-whiz of special effects has changed, but I'm not sure that hasn't been happening every ten years with every innovation.

Anonymous said...

I thought "Chronological Snobbery" was just a term someone made up for their blog. Thanks, Wikipedia!

mcsteans said...

Whoa. I hope I'm wrong, but that looks sucky.

Carla said...

Sorry you had such a bad day, and over food. That's so sad. I think food is really simple, eat what you like and like what you eat. I say that now but I can see myself in a few years forcing Xander to eat spinach and that doesn't really fit into that saying.

The League said...

I agree. It can be about personal enjoyment, and doesn't need to be about status-seeking.

I have no idea when I began eating spinach, but it was either in salad form or in a casserole of some sort.