Thoughts

Food Porn? No Thanks, I’m British

It’s a cliché these days that there’s a lot of porn about. But I’m not talking about the rude stuff – just the word itself. An unsightly rash of new Twitter accounts with the word ‘porn’ in the title have sprung up, and they have nothing to do with boobs – just pictures of stuff that people like. ‘Porn’ has become short-hand for ‘pictures of things we like’.

Of course, this isn’t a new thing. But I think it was when I noticed an account called @pupsporn, which posts pictures of cute puppies, that I thought “Hang on a minute, something’s quite seriously messed up here.” I’m sure you don’t need me to point out that the twitter handle in question has other less savoury implications, which sure don’t involve tiny Labradors sitting in watering cans.

The same is true for @heelporn (although to be fair, the pictures of £11,000 Jimmy Choos might just do the trick for foot fetishists) and – ahem – @ringporn (which posts pictures of engagement rings).

Of course, ‘food porn’ is quite possibly patient zero for this whole epidemic, and arguably one of the most popular categories – @itsfoodporn, @foodpornsx and @threefoodporn are just the top three in a very long list of search results.

So what is this linguistic shortcut all about? I doubt people are really getting flushed looking at pictures of perfectly colour-coordinated macaroons (although it takes all sorts, and it would be a funny old world if we were all the same).

In reality, of course, it’s just a way of expressing that people don’t just like these things – they really like them. You might say that it’s pedantic to object to the broadening out of the definition of porn from ‘images intended to stimulate sexual excitement’ (Oxford English Dictionary) to ‘images intended to stimulate any and all kinds of excitement, including squealing over adorable puppies and massive diamonds’.

But I think there’s a cheapness and a sleaziness to bundling all of those kinds of excitement and stimulation in together. Somehow it suggests that we aren’t capable of much else, that once we go past ‘liking something’ we move on to ‘wanting to hump it’, like an overexcited dog.

This might be one of those crazy uptight British things, but I don’t really want a side-helping of porn with my food. Food, I like you, but I’m afraid I just don’t like you in *that* way. Can we just be friends?

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