Food and Sex and Fun

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I was really intending to upload what comes after this, but I wasn’t brave enough. Here an extravagant meal is being wheeled into a western styled hotel room.

In this scene, reproduction and food as a form of sustenance are choicely placed in juxtaposition; both as factors of primary survival instincts of the human race…But let’s be real, that’s not why this scene caught every one’s attention in class.

We could definitely go down the classical studies route, where deities of love, lust, fortune, and beauty are largely goddesses in every branch of mythology, but I am no expert, so let’s not. Regardless, Itami paints a clear picture that eating shouldn’t be a serious affair. There was a ton of biting and licking involved in the scene, and not all of them are for food. But the subtle reference to similar human gestures for both activities probably isn’t an accident. He emphasizes that eating should be an interactive experience; pointing out the fact that good food should stimulate all of the senses. The presentation, smell, and taste should all be carefully considered for a well put together meal, most definitely for western cuisines, but even more so for good ol’ Ramen. Remember the old man stroking his three pieces of pork at the beginning of the film? Well who knows what interesting things are going on in his mind then? Itami also restates the social aspect of food eating, and of the intimacy prevalent between people who share a meal together, both among families, and apparently lovers too. In regards of filming techniques, the exaggerated camera close-ups are really as intimate as it gets. Nothing like great food to bring people together right?

Although the movie embodies the general theme of promoting appreciation of “traditional comfort food” as opposed to blindly following the fad, it is by no means bashing on western culture or western food. Itami selectively appropriates scenes of modernity, obviously celebrating the young entrepreneurial spirits of post-war Japan, while highlighting that western cuisine (and room service for that matter), is still largely endorsed by progressive yuppies as opposed to older nostalgic folks. In effect he is also depicting the animal like craze behind globalization in Japan, and the untamed nature of modernization and technological advancements driven by a new generation. Which isn’t all that bad, I mean look at how much fun the two of them are having. But of course everything is better in moderation (some parts were going a bit too far in my opinion).

A genuine playfulness carries itself throughout the entire film, and this scene in particular, but if I’d say if there is anything we can be positively sure of, it is that there is nothing more effective in capturing the attention of the audience during a two-hour movie than with a sex scene, and Itami sure knows that well.

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Lastly I leave you with a question to ponder; what the heck is going on here? Is this actually something people do for fun? By the way, where did the word “food orgasm” even come from?

 

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One response to “Food and Sex and Fun

  1. Your last question, a good one. It’s interesting to ponder what elements of that experience are drawn upon in the simile (assuming the comparison means food/eating is LIKE orgasm/sex…). Indeed, classical lit (Shakespeare, etc.) often refers to orgasm in metaphoric terms–as a little death. Maybe it’s satiation as axis of comparison here? Peak experience? Simultaneity? A veiled reference to that famed scene in When Harry Met Sally? A shocker phrase to indicate a proximity or knowledge of taboo? The term seems a bit dated, in terms of contemporary sexological studies, when it was assumed by scholars/clinicians (if not by fiction writers or sex workers) that orgasm was the ne plus ultra peak experience of sexuality. Now that there are many many blogs, changes in legislation and conversation, and TV shows like Masters of Sex, not to mention the 40th (!) anniversary celebration of the publication of Fear of Flying, the question actually has a pretty large terrain to cover. Its etymology, travels, subculture use (Yelp versus New York Times, for example) are quite rich, no doubt, and worth taking seriously (meaning as an actual intellectual inquiry). Inquiring (intellectual) minds want to know.

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