Mukbang: The Not-So-Fine-Art-of-Gorging
“Manners are the happy ways of doing things.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
By Alyssa Saturley
Despite not being from great wealth or royal pedigree, my Mom believed that having good table manners armed you to go forth in the world with confidence.
So, you can imagine how stumbling upon Mukbang, late one sleepless night, was like a crash course in the five stages of grief.
Denial — There’s no way she’s going to get that whole thing in her mouth.
Anger — Why does she get to look that good while shoving it in?
Bargaining — I’d give anything right now to be able to turn this off.
Depression — What is WRONG with the world when 2.4 Million people want to watch her do this?
Acceptance — How hard can it actually be?
If you think I spend too much time with Dipsea in my earbuds, and went searching for the laziness of visuals on that sleepless night, you’d only be half wrong. (Also, looking up Mukbang was far less traumatic and no where near as confusing as my previous dictionary search, “Bukake.”)
No link for that one. It was a bit of a shocker.
While I’m (almost) always on the lookout for the latest and greatest in the boudoir, this particular porn is of the Gastro variety.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is Mukbang:
I know, I know... it’s a lot. But fear not, I’m going to help you navigate these sparkling (not still) waters.
Mukbang, a Korean term that translates to EatCast, is a relatively new phenomenon. Born out of decades in economic downturn, and the burden of a highly refined eating etiquette that goes back thousands of years, young Koreans have taken matters into their own sticky fingers and embraced what could only be called The Not-So-Fine-Art-of-Gorging.
For someone who makes a point of visiting as many Chinatowns as I can (my favourite being Petaling Street in Koala Lumpur), I’m reasonably familiar with Chopstick Culture in all its slurping and sucking glory.
When it comes to my favourite Korean Mukbanger, Boki, I feel the same way as I do about Roger Moore: There are other James Bonds out there but you’re always partial to your first.
After you watch a few of her epicurisodes it becomes clear that there are more than big bites going on here. While her double jointed jaw (must be?!) and masticating skills are truly epic, there are serious audio cues happening as well.
From the moment she cracks that pop can until her last giggle-whisper of “Can it be true? It was all I had dreamed of!” we’re treated to a heaping helping of what I’ve learned is ASMR.
This where things get even more complex. The Bow Chica Bow Wow of many (not all) Mukbang videos is the audible buffet that runs throughout. And nobody does the ASMR part of Mukbang better than Canada’s own SAS.
Audio Sensory Meridian Response, the darling of the sleepless and anxiety riddled, is a physical reaction to oratory stimulation. Long nails clicking on plastic, deep gulps of effervescent cola, even the sounds your mouth makes when speaking produces a tingling sensation at the nape of the neck that travels south down the spine.
How far does it go? True believers are quick to castigate those who reduce this to something as pedestrian as sexual arousal, but from what I’ve seen, man’s various insatiable appetites often become intertwined.
And speaking of men, while researching this gig I learned that my 8-year-old boy suffers from misophonia, a.k.a mumthismakesmewanttobarf-itis. A disorder first coined in the early 2000’s, it is loosely defined as sounds most often coming from food.
For those like my son, there are Mukbangs with heavy emphasis on the preparation of the food. Supposedly, this came out of necessity. Ordering takeout did not provide the sheer quantity of food required at a reasonable cost.
Mukbangers like Keemi focus more on food prep. While she does have a separate ASMR channel, it’s clear that her basic Mukbang would not be up to snuff with its Muzak soundtrack and unrehearsed, free-flowing chatter.
Just as not all Mukbang is about ASMR, not all ASMR is about food.
My husband’s instructional video for fans of Quadcoptering gained him notoriety in the ASMR community for his subdued vocal stylings. I always knew he had this innate ability to calm me down, only now I realize it’s not what he says, but how he says it.
ASMR is one of those things you’ve never heard of until you do. Then it becomes hard to escape. Practitioners find ASMR in the most unlikely places. You wonder if it was subliminally planted to begin with.
Straight up Mukbang is a lot more obvious, which is still where I struggle with it. Could I fit five Gyoza in my mouth? Probably.
But I live in a world where pre-Covid shoppers (100% women) scrutinize the contents of my shopping cart to try and gain an understanding as to how I wound up a size 16.
On a good day (quinoa) I get a full smile, but on a not-so-good day (Velveeta - WHAT?), a disapproving head tilt says it all: Yukbang is not for the likes of me.
image: video capture https://youtu.be/IfqpsfZskfE