Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Icky Race

Yes, I'm hooked on a reality TV show. I really do think that The Amazing Race is a really good show. I do have a blog entry running around in my head all about the Big Asshole From Boston, so that will be coming sometime.

One thing I really like about TAR is that they go to all these amazing places and incorporate local traditions and costumes and historical sites. This season in Peru, one of the challenges was herding llamas. Last season in Argentina, they had to find the grave of Eva Peron. This week was the disgusting food challenge, where contestants had to eat a traditional Argentinian barbecue consisting of a whole lot of beef, some of more ... obscure parts of the animal. Four pounds of barbecue.

From what I can find on the Web, that's about 4500 calories of beef, or more than two days worth. (That's 190 to 330 calories per 3.5 oz serving, depending on the cut of beef, cooking method, and fat content.)

This is the only part of the show that I really don't like. We're already a fat country. Obesity kills a lot of us. Do we really need to watch people stuff their big fat mouths with literally enough food to feed an entire family? Much of the rest of the Race can be overcome by either physical strength or cleverness and the ability to not get lost in the middle of nowhere in Urgblechistan. This challenge just seems out of place, and I get the feeling it's only in there because Survivor and Fear Factor all have a disgusting food challenge.

Another thing is that it seems very disrespectful to the cultures the Racers are visiting. Like I said, the show goes all over the world and incorporates local, ahem, flavor into each episode. Then comes an episode where the challenge is, "Welcome to our country, now eat enough of a local dish until you're vomiting all over everywhere, and eat some more!" Two seasons ago, the Racers had to eat the equivalent of a dozen eggs (one ostrich egg) in a less-than-particularly-opulent African village. The locals didn't look particularly overfed, and here are a bunch of rich Americans eating so much that they puked, only to continue eating.

It is sometimes considered a sign of the decadence of Ancient Rome that the highest classes would deliberatly vomit after a huge meal so they could contiue to feast. (The existence of the vomitorium, or a room specifically dedicated to the practice appears to be a myth.) Bulemia is a serious and completely un-entertaining problem for many in this country. Is watching it as entertainment something that's really appropriate?

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