As the title of the blog ask, I would like to ask the same question again.
Do you like to watch people eat?
There is the online trend called Eating show. The Eating show, also known as Mukbang show, refers to an online audiovisual broadcast displaying a person/people eating something. Usually, this show consists of unusual eating behavior, ranging from overeating to eating irritating foods.
This online trend in new media started in South Korea, and it has gone viral at a global level.
Why has this phenomenon of watching someone eat become popular?
Why people like to watch someone eat?
Similar to food porn, which is glamourized visual representation of cooking or eating, scholars and phycologists mentioned that the instant visual and auditorial stimuli attract people to watch this kind of show. They argue this show makes people get secondhand satisfaction by watching someone eat.
Also, many scholars argued the reason why this show is popular actually rooted in the social context of South Korea. In Korea, the act of eating is usually regarded as a social activity. That is to say, people are regarding eating as an occasion for socializing with people. However, along with the increasing number of one-person households and prevailing the 24/7 economy working environment, it has become harder to have people around when they eat. Scholars point out that the very point makes people seeking for the alternative option to replace real people and real socializing. In that sense, viewers of eating show regard this as their eating mate.
However, I find these reasons a bit insufficient. Given the fact that most eating show display unusual eating behavior, sometimes way too extreme, I think there is more than those reasons Also, if the show is socially related to Korean culture, “Why it became global?”
Another reason for increased popularity of the Eating Show
Most of the eating shows are commonly streamed by the host who has either underweight or normal-weight body shape despite their unusual eating behavior.
As many comments express, viewers show their admiration for the slim body of the hosts, as well as amazement toward their unusual eating behavior. Their eating behavior, which is not matching with their body shape, is the attraction point for viewers.
In the research article, Problematic Mukbang Watching and Its Relationship to Disordered Eating and Internet Addiction: A Pilot Study Among Emerging Adult Mukbang Watchers, interprets, I think there is a connection between the popularity of eating shows and the idolization of people who are eating a large amount of food without gaining weight.
Then why it has started in South Korea?
South Korea is one of the countries that show a high percentage of eating disorder behavior, and this phenomenon is rooted in the strict social standard of ideal body type which is celebrating extremely skinny bodies. Skinny bodies are also globally celebrated though, the Korean(or another east Asian country) standard is more extreme. In that sense, no wonder why this distorted idolization of “eating a lot but being skinny” has started in Korea.
Do you like watch people eating?
Going back to the question, do you like to watch people eat? also, if so, what kind of show are you watching? Does the eating show that you are consuming incorporate unusual eating behavior? I don’t want to conclude or diagnose eating shows as a dangerous thing to watch. However, sure, if you have a certain and strict idea of ideal body shape, this kind of show can stimulate and reinforces a toxic relationship between you and your body.
Kircaburun, Kagan, Cemil Yurdagül, Daria Kuss, Emrah Emirtekin, and Mark D. Griffiths. “Problematic Mukbang Watching and Its Relationship to Disordered Eating and Internet Addiction: A Pilot Study Among Emerging Adult Mukbang Watchers.” International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction 19, no. 6 (2020): 2160–69. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-020-00309-w.
Kang, EunKyo, Jihye Lee, Kyae Hyung Kim, and Young Ho Yun. “The Popularity of Eating Broadcast: Content Analysis of “mukbang” YouTube Videos, Media Coverage, and the Health Impact of “mukbang” on Public.” Health Informatics Journal 26, no. 3 (2020): 2237–48. https://doi.org/10.1177/1460458220901360.