Cooking Show Spawns
with a Dose of Wretched Misconceptions
In the past two decades, Food Television like most reality programs has spawned and taken over the world!
MasterChef is a popular example of this phenomenon.
Originating from the UK, the show has been franchised out to 40 different countries and is aired in over 200 territories.
While the format of the show remains the same across the different shows, production, direction and promotion techniques have been appropriated according to the context the show operates in. For instance, while MasterChef US tends to focus on the drama (competitive friction) created in the kitchen amongst the contestants and judges, MasterChef India leans towards focusing on the dramatic struggles (short comings of life) its contestants faced before they appeared on the show.
What intrigues me here is not the utilization of different production techniques, but the implications these different variety of productions have on a wider scale.
While keeping in mind these shows are globally distributed; I wonder whether on an international level the show frames people’s perspective of a particular culture.
Being an avid viewer of cooking shows this was my experience of consuming one of food television’s spawn:
After watching two seasons of MasterChef India, my impression of Indians and their culture was: it was a dramatic culture in which the bunch of them were manipulative individuals, who got what they wanted by gaining sympathy votes through toying with people’s emotions . This image didn’t just form overnight; it was built by a continuous consumption of food show which promoted and represented Indian culture.
Although I understand that in India drama sells, and focusing on the hardships of people would only lead to a greater number of viewers and money for the network. I feel like the production team, and viewers are ignoring the big picture. Just like Bollywood has built the perception of a “singing, dancing, running into each others arms” India, these spawns of cooking shows are contributing towards presenting a false representation of their culture, that too on an international level!
This leads to several implications: It reinforces stereotypes. It brainwashes and forms misconceptions in its consumer’s mind. And It revokes the “us vs. them” conflict.
Well in my experience after watching MasterChef India continuously, it rendered a feeling of superiority within me, and it manipulated my thoughts to believe that the Indians needed to be taught how to conduct themselves. It reinforced the stereotype: Indians are drama queens. This was all, of course, due to my misinformed conception of Indian culture thanks to MasterChef India.
Drawing from that experience, I believe if food television has the power to change the mind of one person, then it must have the power to alter one million perceptions and ideologies.
In the End…
I think what one must take away from this post is not my impression of Indians and their culture, rather the understanding of the immense amount of power cooking shows have.