Gettin Down Home with the Neelys: Gastro-porn and televisual performances of gender, race, and sexuality

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article illuminates how performances of gender, race, and sexuality are integrated with representations of food and food performance in contemporary American cooking television. Interrogating the intersections of food, gender, race, sexuality, and performance, this essay explores how the cable-television show, Down Home with the Neelys, depicts a nouveau gastro-porn anchored in the perceived pornographic level of blackness itself. The author reveals the ways that food and performances of food become a medium of gendering and racialization employed by American popular media. Through the lens of reality television, shows like Down Home (re)produce a certain type of black heterosexuality and gendered enactments of domesticity and space, while challenging dominant televisual reflections of black love and labor. The author argues that the Neelys self-consciously employ a vernacular aesthetic performative of "down home" (a uniquely classed, temporally-spatially situated, and sexualized blackness) to exploit the phenomenon of gastro-porn in a highly lucrative performance that signals the entangled artifice of gender, race, and sexuality. More than offering culinary expertise and education, such cooking instruction reveals the pedagogy of gender, race, and sexuality as visual lessons of a complex and contradictory authenticity. This essay reveals television cooking shows as critical sites for considering the domestic laboring of gendered and racialized sexualities. In particular, shows like Down Home evince the ways that race continues to be rendered in visual terms and the enduring edibility of blackness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-349
Number of pages27
JournalWomen and Performance
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

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