Friday, May 16, 2008

Tim Anderson on Face Food

Though he spelled my name wrong (forgiveness, forgiveness...) Tim Anderson wrote some lovely words on Face Food over at his blog, Media Studies Gateway. I'd like to share a passage of it here:

I have often wondered about the symbolic terrain of the logos and brand imagery but it wasn't until I saw this book that I think it really hit me that the possibility of affective connections that can be created through the reproduction and digestion of such material. The child and adult who consumes these faces must, at some level, do so with a level of care that must resonate throughout their psyche. What it means that these are symbols that are not necessarily generated by contract, but rather by fans (or parents of fans) suggests a deeper level of affective attachment, one that I had not considered before. Why I hadn't is clear to me. On my fifth birthday I clearly remember asking my mom for a "Batman cake", which she did as best she could. It's one of the better memories of my childhood, one that, if I am lucky, won't go away any time soon. I miss those cakes, my TV show lunchboxes and my mom, all of whom swirl together in memories of TV shows shared and time spent at tables in cafeterias, birthday parties and first communions. For better or worse, these mediated images of Christ, Batman and Family cannot be disaggregated, nor would I want them to be.

Tim touches on religious ritual and its association with imagery/food, something I've never really thought about until now. The Last Supper... First Communion... Catholic or otherwise, religions are borne out of image incorporation and idol "ingestion." Religious meals can symbolize rights of passage, markers for our own maturity. Charaben, in many ways, represent the wide-eyed splendor, the anything-is-possible dreamlike innocence of youth - albeit a branded representation of this idea. But one can't really hate on using the image of a Powerpuff Girl, a Mickey Mouse or Goku-san... these characters, all corporate-owned and copyrighted creations, are no different than a generic image of a deer, puppy dog, or what have you - at least when it comes to charaben. The great thing about charaben is the time/skill involved in making them, something no machine or corporation could duplicate (at least not yet). It's the care involved in their creation that really sets these bentos apart; the end result is simply the icon in our memories, the marker left to remind us of our parents' love, care and charity.

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