“Foodporn”, while a known concept, doesn’t really crop up anymore in its original form. While you can still find images of sensuous meat juices or the kaleidoscopic frosting of cupcakes with the now-aged hashtag, the main thrust of the movement is split up now. “Foodporn” is food-trends, quick videos and an app called Snapchat.
“Foodporn” heavily overlaps with the latest fads. After all, a picture of your simple avocado toastie, no matter how perfectly made, doesn’t have the kind of staying power of the creations various cafes and creators have brought to life. Take freakshakes, for example, milkshakes with toppings that usually include Tim Tams, a whole jar of Nutella and a small Venezuelan village of your choosing, made by a small subset of society who apparently have never heard the phrase “less is more”. All of this is primed for our ravenous (social media) consumption; the ludicrousness of excess is elevated to a status of desirability.
Along with that, we get these quick how-to-dos, where jangly music accompanies a top down view of a bench-top (Do these recipes even work?). These are surely the most harmfully alluring morsels on social media, as they can tend to give an illusory sense of accomplishment when you witness the entire emotional arc of this sad raw egg turning into a beautiful omelette. Then there’s the sense of “damn that looks delicious and so easy” before you promptly scroll out of view until it is replaced by general meme-age. It’s stimulating and disposable, and encapsulates the idea of “foodporn”.
Finally, there’s Snapchat, or amateur “foodporn”. Sure, a part of it is showing off, but I can’t help but think there’s this futile, glorious belief that one’s food photo looks so good that the image will transcend the fact that none of the senses required to enjoy it are available to the receiver. It doesn’t, and it never will. Instead you get these inert photos that rate slightly worse than social media mother’s day posts but slightly higher than those memes where it’s just a bunch of names and something like “Most likely to X!!”.
“Foodporn” relies on social media in all of its exciting and terrible forms, and lives on with varying levels of success. However, despite all the hubbub and hype, we should never forget the value of an enjoyment of food separate from this, like the simply subversive experience of eating our wholly average-looking Hawaiian pizza in peace.
By Eric Qian