Nathan’s is All Filler
So Joey Chestnut has once again been crowned Repulsive Gorging Champion of the World, in a contest that fully 81% of ESPN viewers don’t even consider a sport. Let pass that there’s actually an organization called “Major League Eating.” Let pass the spectacle of men rhythmically stuffing their gullets with soaked hotdogs. Let pass, well, pretty much everything about the event. None of it matters in the face of a single, strident fact:
It’s terrible TV.
The whole reason that the contest exists — or, rather, than it’s anything other than a half-column-inch curiosity in tomorrow’s paper — is to fill an hour of airtime. And it does a terrible job of it. The eating only lasts for ten minutes, and that’s nauseating to watch. There’s no balletic beauty, no elegant effort. There are just a bunch of guys — some in mohawks and in facepaint — stuffing themselves. This is the cameras turned around, away from the professionals and into the stands. If I want to watch people eat themselves sick, I could just look over to the right-field All-You-Can-Eat bleachers at Dodger Stadium.
But let’s say that gluttony porn was your thing, and you… get off… watching it. First, there are very likely several dozen Web sites that can fulfill that need more professionally for just a few bucks a month. And if you’re too cheap to pop for your own dogs and a mirror? Well, then, you’ve still gotta sit through fifty minutes of the worst television sports cliches imaginable. You think Olympic coverage is padding with faux-inspirational stories and gauzy soft-focus? At least it’s followed by, y’know, actual sport. The Coney Island hotdog eating championship is as fluffy and in-the-way as an unsoaked bun.
And so another year comes and goes, padding with cliches and bad editing, shot through with filler and pig lips, topped with a spectacle that’s straight out of ancient Rome. The only difference is that in Rome, they followed it with the vomitorium championship.
I hope I haven’t given any one any ideas.