Monday, January 19, 2009

Food on TV is the new radio drama

I think that I've figured out the boom in food programming on TV.  It's more of the magic of selective sensory deprivation.  Above and beyond the obvious commercial interests and the draw both high and low cusine has on the conspicuously consumptive, I think that food on television which, deprived of taste, scent, and touch is reduced to image and verbal testimony, is actually an equivalent of radio drama, in that individual imaginations are forced to fill in missing details.  

The notion that the book is always better than the film follows the same logic, and in the days of radio drama, the book was likewise preferred to the radio play, and the radio play in turn preferred to the television program.  The aesthetic premise here is that making more and more aspects of a work explicit has an inverse effect on its interpretive richness.  

(I recently read through a number of reviews of Wagner Ring productions and recordings.   The common thread throughout is the passionate devotion of the reviewers to "the work", but the equally passionate disappointment in the actual realizations.   Because of that disappointment, you have to wonder what, precisely, "the work" is supposed to be,  when it certainly doesn't appear to actually exist in any of the concrete forms on offer.  I, for one, would be very disappointed to learn that "the work" is some singular platonic ideal.)

Works in which some aspect of the sensory experience are left open to the imagination of the audience carry with them a certain charge, not merely the suspension of disbelief required by all fiction (or theatre or film or TV), but the invitation to actively go beyond belief, indeed beyond what we know from our own experience, whether it be the taste, aroma, and texture of Basque sweetbreads, the movements of a Rhinemaiden, or the evil which lurks in the hearts of men...  

  

 

2 comments:

banaphshu said...

"The Iron Chef" is quite popular in Anaphoria and in this household

finalrune said...

I think I get what you're saying here, though the dots between food and radio drama are still a little blurry for me (for instance, what alternative is there to watching food TV -- apart from actually, ehm, cooking?).

I do agree with your premise that "less is more" with radio drama and that's what makes it such a compelling medium. Though I don't know that novel > radio drama always -- I think it's the quality of the adaptation that works. There are some classic works of radio drama that would never work as a novel, and novels that don't make good radio drama...

Fred

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