Informed Belligerence: Forget The Hotdog & The American Dream.
Today, the essence of America was reborn again, in sprit and performance. It was Independence Day, the 4th of July. The taste of America lingered in my mouth as the froth from last night’s exploits lined the inside of my mouth. I was dehydrated, exhausted; my body had been dragged through small drinks then toward bigger ones. I wasn’t here to play games; I was here to be American.
I walked into the lobby it was cold and sterile. There was a fellow from Alaska sitting in the chair next to me. We were silent at first. I flick on the TV in hope to find the starting point for a dialogue. The sports channel fires up, but there is nothing I would consider a sport on. There was soccer, everyone in the world had tuned into the World Cup held in Brazil. I wasn’t ever into soccer, but I would allow it this time. Although the world cup is largely the most influential global sporting event to ever exist, it mattered not to Americans on the 4th. Instead of ad hoc analysis I found myself witess to the massacre of the American dream.
“It’s the Nathans Hot dog eating competition… They hold it every Independence Day” the quiet kid from Alaska opened. “I’m aware”. This wasn’t my first interaction with competitive eating. I had seen a documentary about it when I was much younger. Even then the idea of competitive eating made me ask questions that i hadn’t contemplated before. Why is this considered a sport? What the fuck is this? Why the fuck are we doing this? Where does this rank in the stupidest developments in modern culture?
However negative my predisposition towards the “contest” what happened next left me dumb struck. As the commercials passed and the coverage of the carnage resumed Alaska boy provided more information. “Yeah, the media has been hyping the shit out of this”. That was an understatement; shortly I was introduced to the start of the show, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut. This man was the best eater on the planet. He holds more world records and has won this contest the 7 previous times. I don’t know the significance of winning 7 Nathan’s Hotdog contest Mustard belts, but apparently it’s a big fucking deal.
My introduction to Joey “Jaws” Chestnut was accompanied this image. Hundreds of people crowding the streets of Coney Island, cheering and screaming– waiting for the “King” of “Twinkies, bratwurst, ice cream, pork sliders and hard boiled eggs “to bless his plebeian audience. Holy fuck, this is what we’ve come to. An authentic celebration of freedom and unity has been destroyed and delinked from authentic American continuousness. This becomes even more apparent to me as this chariot holding “Jaws” is escorted through the huddled masses. Announcer George Shea is screaming misinformed Americanism across the crowed Square. As if he were in a shitty metal band his voice breaks under the weight of ProAmerica turrets.
He continues spouting the permutations of God Bless America and I fucking love processed meats; then the next unbelievable thing happens. We haven’t even gotten to the competition. The announcer mentions that He just got engaged. Yes. The world’s most powerful eater had done the unthinkable, asked for his girlfriends hand in marriage. How FUCKING American. The champion of the most American sport, does the most American thing, on the most American day. Could this get any worse? She said yes.
This crowd was fucked up on pure America; fueled by marriage and the display of massive consumption. I turn to Alaska, “Is this serious” “Yes, yes it is”. How disappointing. Wait a minute, what was I really even expecting. I was trying to figure out why I was so upset that this event had mutated into gratuitous amounts of freedom exhausted by eating 60+ hot dogs. I shouldn’t have expected different from Americans on the 4th of July but I did.
As the “Mustard Belt Master” takes his seat upon the battle bench the competition begins. Although that Chestnut was considered to be the favorite he had competition from Matt “Megatoad” Stonie. Megatoad was a much smaller man in stature, age and mustard belts. Could Jaws chomp away at Megatoads chances at victory? Don’t they sound like super heroes? Even the whole sport is hyperbolized at the inscription of “Players”. Every eater is made out to be more than man.
The competition is pretty simple: 10 Minutes, unlimited water and hotdogs, GO. Almost immediately after Jaws takes his seat the competition begins. Wow, what was I watching? I was addicted, enchanted, disgusted and appreciative. The announcers, as if it was any other sport are trying to analyze the technique, quantity and performance of all of the eaters. It was hilarious. How many ways can you say, “He’s eating a lot of fucking hot dogs”. It’s pretty impressive that they even can fill 10 minutes with that shit.
The eating starts and it doesn’t stop. It becomes a painful, disgusting, entrancing spectacle to watch. This line of eaters are jamming fistfuls of hotdog into 110-degree water and then forcing it down their throat as a fast as possible. Of course, the modern sport world has generated what they can loosely claim as statistical analysis. Dogs per minute, dog count ect ect. It’s all bullshit to try and provide sophistication to this primal exercise.
The races is about pace; eating at this level isn’t some buffet free for all. It requires timing, etiquette, precision and accuracy. You have to train your body for months to withstand these extreme inductions of food. These were athletes of a different breed. They weren’t fat, they were toned. They were prepared to take on this race as if it were their own Olympics. There were no rings. As the race continues it becomes clear that Jaws and Megatoad were going to be the front runners. It starts out with Chestnut behind by two dogs, he quickly recovers putting himself a frank or two ahead, but victory isn’t in his hands now. It goes neck and neck for the entire race until finally Jaws puts his money where his mouth is and comes out on top.
Here you go America; here is your grand eating champion in all of his glory. I hope you’re happy, because I’m not.
This event dripped with the sludge of American shit stains. This moment, this day, these people had come to articulate the meaning of the 4th of july. This wasn’t some holy day where we memorialize the commitment to freedom and liberty. This was an event where we legitimize the worst form of human consumption. Purposeless, superficial and sad.
This was it. This was America. This is what it’s all about. Continually consuming cock-shaped objects at an unprecedented rate. Never do we ask Americans what is the logical conclusion of this model of citizenship. What form of culture are we exporting as the proper assemblage of humanity? Is this really what we’ve come to? Millions of children starve and live in unimaginable poverty both at home and abroad, yet we cast away thousands of meals to watch these fucks eat away?
We have forgotten what it means to be truly American, in favor of these superficial traditions. Im glad I bathe in the comforts of modernity. I don’t have to fight for my meals. I don’t have to go to sleep hungry. Jaws and Megatoad won’t either. But we cannot forget that some do. Some voices will never be heard through the screaming of fans. I have resigned myself from looking for hope. I wont find it. I have resigned myself from trying to change this. It won’t happen. I have resigned myself from watching anymore.
I cant remove the bad taste that in my mouth. It’s not the beer from last night, or the shitty breakfast from this morning. It’s the taste of bitter resentment. Resentment that’s brewing in my belly; that’s manifesting on my heart. Fuck Hotdogs.