Internet Gutter Mukbang

first_imgLet us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Internet Gutter: Crisis ActorsThe Dankest Original Characters in Sonic Forces Online is a strange and terrifying place. It’s enabled us to connect with one another, advance the causes of science and culture, and unite the world with a glowing net of data. It’s also enabled people with very… particular interests to find each other. In this weekly series, we’ll be dipping into the Internet Gutter – the strange subcultures and weird worlds lurking in the dark pockets of the World Wide Web.MukbangThere are plenty of ways to get famous on YouTube. You can have some kind of talent, but how many of us can say that? You can prank your friends and relatives if you’re a good-looking moron teen boy from Ohio. You can be racist at video games. Or you can just destroy yourself, mentally or physically. And that’s what brings us to “mukbang,” a wildly bizarre new path to viral stardom.A portmanteau of the Korean words for eating (meokneun) and broadcast (bangsong), mukbang began on South Korea’s AfreecaTV streaming service and has spread across the globe. Here’s how it works: you watch somebody eat. Usually a lot.AdChoices广告This isn’t competitive eating – mukbangers aren’t facing off against each other or setting world records. They’re just sitting down with massive amounts of food – ramen and fried chicken are popular, but just about anything goes – and leisurely consuming it. Some of the most popular have quit their jobs to live stream themselves eating for as many as three hours a day.What’s the draw? It’s hard to say. Some cultural critics believe that eating is one of our most unguarded and “natural” behaviors, so there’s a sense of greater personal connection when you’re watching someone do it. Others think that it might satisfy a need for eating in the viewer, who maybe can’t aspire to chow down fried food for a living. Whatever it is, it’s racking up millions of views both in America and abroad.Mukbang is a niche, but it’s a big one. One 2016 survey showed that 5% of AfreecaTV streams were eating-related. The genre came to America courtesy of a Fine Brothers reaction video in 2015, and it wasn’t long before it spread like a virus.The first notable American YouTube mukbanger was Trisha Paytas, who had previously built a fanbase around videos of her “hauls” – after trips to the store, she’d camp out in front of her webcam and painstakingly showcase everything she bought that day to an adoring audience living vicariously through her. The transition to eating videos made sense – her whole gimmick was conspicuous consumption, so food made sense.But here’s the thing. In South Korea, mukbang is a way for “broadcast jockeys” to directly connect with their viewers. Sure, it’s gross to watch them down so much food, but they do it live, engaging with their audience through chat and creating a community. When Western YouTubers picked up on the concept, they stripped that away and made it all about the calories. And that’s where mukbang really gets disgusting.If America has one value, it’s excess. So Paytas and her fellow Western mukbangers made their videos all about throwing down hideous amounts of extremely unhealthy food. Ramen, pizza, hamburgers, even gas station cuisine – everything was fair game. Mukbang transformed into a sickening voyeurism where performers walked a razor-thin line between entertaining and vomiting.One of the most notorious American mukbangers is “Nikocado Avocado,” the nom de chow of Nicholas Perry, a Pennsylvania-born eater who relocated to Colombia. Avocado got into the mukbang scene in 2016 and quickly racked up a half-million subscribers on his YouTube channel. Unlike other mukbangers, though, Niko gets… a little emotional about his food.A former vegan, Nikocado intersperses truly disgusting videos of himself downing piles of noodles, pizza and other high-carb, high-fat dishes with personal vlogs where he cries into the camera about his health problems. Formerly a hardcore vegan, the lure of mukbang stardom was too much for him to resist and he abandoned his principles to overeat on camera.Nikocado’s mukbangs typically revolve around sodium-loaded junk food like instant ramen or Cheetos. In some, he makes “recipes” where he combines said ingredients into a Voltron of heart disease. It’s no wonder that he spends so much time crying, looking at what he eats. As of press time, Avocado had been deported from Colombia back to the United States, where his access to junk food remains nearly infinite.Most of the original Korean mukbangers treat eating on camera as a job, and so when they’re not throwing down the calories they hit the gym to burn them off. Popular BJ Banzz works out for six hours daily and only eats chicken breasts when he’s not broadcasting. This is obviously not a perfect solution – downing that much at a time is going to be detrimental to your guts – but it’s something. Few American mukbangers have that kind of motivation, so you’ll notice the lifestyle wearing on them pretty heavily over time as their digestive systems break down under the strain.Even more disturbing, now kids are starting to get into the act. One recent video from JennyBelly1983 shows a five-year-old girl downing four Taco Bell Doritos Locos tacos in ten minutes – the caloric equivalent of her entire day’s recommended nutrition. It’s bad enough when adults with fully developed digestive systems abuse them for YouTube views, but I’d argue that teaching your kid to mukbang qualifies as child abuse.What do you think? Can you see the demented appeal of watching people eat on camera, or do the chewing and slurping sounds make you want to murder somebody? The only positive we can see to mukbang is that the people who do it probably won’t be around for too much longer.center_img Stay on targetlast_img

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