This week’s inductees into the “Overrated Hall of Fame” are … eating contests.
I hate that I know the name Joey Chestnut. Of all the ugly acts that make us ugly Americans, the eating contest might squat atop of that dirty, smelly trash heap of ugliness.
I’m not sure if other countries have eating contests. (Hey, I churn out drivel for a blog. I’m not an actual journalist who does research for actual, you know, journalism. You’re reading this online, which means you have Internet access, which means you have Google. If you’re that interested in knowing, look it up yourself, Mr. Woodward.) I’m guessing they don’t. (See how easy it is to blog?)
In countries where food is treated with reverence, such as Italy and France, it would seem sacrilegious to see how many crepes a person can shove into his piehole in ten minutes. In countries where food is not so revered and is instead looked at with the quaint idea of its purpose being actual sustenance, I’m guessing they view the eating contest for what it is: gross obscenity.
I’m not religious, but there is something spiritually perverse in the eating contest. In the history of man, the quest for food has been the hardest part of existence. Natural disasters and disease have kicked the living shit out of us. Religion has caused more wars than all the Bush egos combined. Some day another Chris Christie-sized asteroid is going to thwomp into the planet and put one hell of a damper on humanity’s future. But nothing has caused more death, more suffering and more heartache than food issues.
For the bulk of human existence, back before we had Winn Dixies and Super Walmarts for all your Cheetos and Oreos needs, the acquisition of food has required more time, attention and effort than any other part of life. Growing crops and raising meat animals was why most people got out of bed in the morning. If for some reason you wanted to maintain your boring-assed, Internetless, Comcastless, Blackberryless existence, you had to get up and work the fields and milk the cows and feed the pig and get out on that leaky wooden boat and hope your tattered net bagged a few grouper.
But today, although a large segment of the world lives without food angst, there are still many places where food has actual value. Not monetary value. Life sustaining value. And here in America, we have so much extra food and so little appreciation of this fact that we make rabid, rapid overeating a sport. It’s disgusting and, were I religious, I’d go so far as to call it sinful.
So I can’t stand that I am aware of the most famous of the eating contest participants, such as overrated chicken wing stuffers Joey Chestnutt and that semi-hot little Asian-American lady from Virginia they call the Black Widow and the Japanese guy with the bandana, Kositostitos or Kimhibachi or Sushisucko or whatever the little shit’s name is.
[Oh man, that is so racist! How dare you make fun of his Japanese name like that! Talk about the ugly American! Yeah, you’re right. I’m so sorry. I wouldn’t want to offend the dignity of a man whose popularity rests on his ability to cram 60 hot dogs into his mouth every Fourth of July and who holds world records for eating the most meatballs, hamburgers and Twinkies in a singly setting. All apologies, Honorable Kobayahsi-san.]
While I can’t stand the participants in these contests, my real anger goes out toward ESPN and any other network that covers these vulgar food orgies. The “S” in ESPN allegedly stands for sports, but I could be wrong. (It might now stand for “Shill for the NFL.”) Yet they give actual news coverage to these obscene bouts of overindulgence. Interviews are conducted. Odds are set. Extensive highlights are shown. (After all, we wouldn’t want the nation’s premier college basketball network to devote more time to something a little more substantive, like that Syracuse basketball scandal.)
I can barely get ESPN highlights of all three goals of an Alex Ovechkin hat trick, but I’d bet my last Nathan’s frank that I’ll get two minutes coverage (on the world’s premier sports programming network) of a pained, but victorious Joey Chestnut doubled over and breathing heavily as he tries not vomit 53 hot dogs on the Black Widow’s shoes.
But maybe I shouldn’t rip on ESPN. They’re just giving the bloated masses what they want, which are clips of people doing what they do, only much doing it much better.
You might play hockey, but you watch ESPN to see highlights of Evgeni Malkin, who plays it better. You might shoot a little hoops in the driveway, but, assbag that he is, Lebron James plays it better. You might toss the football around with your kid and enjoy you some pussy, but Tom Brady does both better.
And Americans love to overeat shit foods, gorging our morbidly obese selves on fried, fatty fare until we are relegated to motorized wheelchairs, but Joey Chestnut does it better.
Hey, all your eating contest winners, if you have an open date on your Tour of Indecency calendar, feel free to pencil yourselves in for a contest where I live. All you have to do is show up … and eat me.
Ned Bitters is, in fact, overrated. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.