Abundance Fantasies: Mukbang

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In our series of abundance fantasies we investigate if and how the human desire for abundance can become a positive force for change. Most abundance fantasies revolve around an illustration of the central promise that if we act in a certain way we will be rewarded. The fantasy provides indirect moral guidance in order to change behaviour, like is described in so many of our religious texts. The Incredible Shrinking Man’s central promise is that we can shrink towards abundance in almost every material aspect of life, including food, space and energy.  However, we have not yet dealt much with how to come to terms with that abundance when it arrives.

The Korean culture of Mukbang shows videos and livestreams of protagonists eating enormous amounts of food while chatting with hundreds of live viewers. Many of the viewers are paying to indulge in this binge-viewing, binge-eating privilege. Often while eating, but also often without eating. Broadcast Jockey Fitness Fairy, who has uploaded more than 100 mukbang clips to her Youtube account, said she believes her fans are merely participating in a fantasy, living ‘vicariously’ through her. This paradoxical redirection of the viewer’s desire for abundance, both indulging in and practically denouncing the physical act of over-consuming, may help in reconstructing metaphysical values allowing our species to find a balance between the desire for abundance and how it manifests itself. Watching a gluttonic stage act may keep the demons away. BJ Francesca Tteokbokki, BJ Diva, and Banzz risk their health and the health of our planet so that most of us don’t.

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