Food TV, Sex, and Hunger: The Entertainment Value of Basic Needs in the First World
According to the United Nations, about a billion people on the planet Earth—or one out of every seven of our fellow human beings—do not get enough to eat. Some of these people live in my community. My daughter’s second grade teacher provides snacks every day because she knows that some of the kids really need a snack.
And yet, here in the First World, we just love using food as a form of entertainment. Between the Food Network and Top Chef and all the hours we spend reviewing and reading about restaurants on Yelp, food isn’t just nutrients—or at least for us First World denizens with cable and high speed Internet. Food is fun. We even call ourselves foodies.
I suppose it’s no surprise that humans have turned one of our basic needs into entertainment. We’ve done the same with sex. For most animals, sex is exclusively a procreative survival mechanism. Humans are one of the only species for whom sex is recreational. And oh, how recreational it is. If we’re not currently doing it, we’re just an Internet click away from seeing someone else doing it.
Food and sex are certainly our two most pleasurably awesome basic needs. There’s a reason why there’s no Water Channel or Air Channel. (The Oxygen Network doesn’t count.) I suppose there is a Shelter Channel, in the form of HGTV, where First World people expound on the need for granite countertops while many of the world’s citizens are homeless or close to it. But mostly, it’s sex and food that top our media representations of basic needs.