If you’re a young man in the 21st century, your personality and lifestyle place you somewhere along a scale between two extremes: Hipster, and bro. Hipsters, on the far left of the scale, are all about being artistically inclined nonconformists who like obscure things from the 80s, while bros, on the far right, live life on a diet of SportsCenter, Family Guy, and testosterone, all while wearing an unending parade of wide brimmed baseball caps.
Everybody fits somewhere on the scale. For my love of Doogie Howser, MD and my collection of ironic T-shirts (which, for the record, I’m trying to gravitate away from) I’m somewhat to the left of center, but not that much, being as I enjoy violent video games, actively follow college football, and vehemently hate soccer. My roommates all land, to varying degrees, on the bro side of the scale. It takes some guesswork, but everyone has a place. I’ve provided a scale with some reference points:
I see people from both extremes come into work in roughly equal numbers, and they each do what they can to stink up the checkout room in their own unique way – the hipsters with cigarette fumes from the American Spirit they smoked between classes, the bros with the cologne that they seem to excrete naturally from their pores.
It’s tough to say which subculture I’m less fond of, because I’ve got my fair share of problems with both. Fundamentalist Hipsters want to show the world that they reject the mainstream to the detriment of their personal hygiene and nose cartilage; Fundamentalist Bros want to show the world that they embody the mainstream to the point that they strut around thumping their polo-shirted chests and howling at the top of their lungs as soon as they begin to consume alcohol. If that’s how they actually want to behave, well, I suppose they have every right to, but then I have every right to find their respective lifestyles obnoxious.
What got me started thinking about this was the Internet series Epic Meal Time, which, as you can see from my scale, is about the broest thing that has ever existed. A twisted cooking show in which a bunch of beefy Canadians enthusiastically make catastrophically unhealthy yet delicious meals, Epic Meal Time wholeheartedly champions stereotypical masculine values like eating meat and yelling.
The show has been a guilty pleasure of mine because I like cooking, and also meat. I’ve put up with the broed out masculinity because at first, in the early Epic Meal Times, it was almost satirical – a bunch of guys running around Saskatchewan essentially making edible mud pies out of whatever junk food they can find, amped up with profanity and hip hop lingo just for the hell of it.
As Epic Meal Time has grown in popularity and the bros’ life expectancies have shortened, the entertainment industry has been quick to cash in on their success – they’re currently in talks for a TV show on one of three channels and are professionally represented by a talent agency.*
*Hey, want to know what else I learned from Wikipedia? The main host, Harley, is a substitute high school teacher. He’s either far more professional off camera or Canada has much lower standards for substitute teachers than America (where, at least in Oregon, the bulk of them seem to be chain smoking divorcees and/or conspiracy theorists).
Now that they’ve got funding and a gigantic fanbase, their videos have started to go a bit over the top – keep in mind, the status quo here is a guy eating chili made with 4Loko using a wooden paddle as a spoon.
Recent episodes have shown off the inflation of the bros’ egos, portraying them as mythical, godlike kitchen warriors traveling Eastern Canada in a quest to make all food extreme. There’s been an ‘origins’ episode in which they visited one of the bros’ hometowns, a college tour episode where they arrive at a college to help a bunch of nerdy kids become awesome through cooking, and an ethnic themed episode where they walk into an Indian restaurant with a gun and start making insane meals using Indian food.
Somehow, when I see a burly drunk white guy pointing a gun at a minority’s face, my first thought isn’t, ‘Hey, fun cooking show!’
This all culminated in the most recent episode: An eight minute long extravaganza in which the bros create a dozen or so macaroni dishes, several of them paying tribute to past Epic Meal Time videos, which they then serve to an equal number of nubile Epic Meal Time groupies, who promptly eat it with their hands as shown in a minute long orgiastic montage, replete with closeups and orgasmic fourth wall breaks from the girls.
It made me uncomfortable, and before you even think it, let me assure you that it had nothing at all to do with the objectification of women in the video. Women have every right to publicly debase themselves to men if they so choose, even in Canada, and I have no problem with that whatsoever.*
*That being said, is women covering their faces in macaroni supposed to be sexy? Because I like macaroni and I really like beautiful women, but the combination of the two isn’t doing it for me.
Rather, it made me uncomfortable because I felt like I was supposed to be enjoying this. Now that Epic Meal Time has been commoditized, this sort of thing must be what sells. It’s become less about a bunch of guys cooking crazy stuff and more about a bunch of bros being bros, and if I wanted to see that I’d just go to school, or work, or the supermarket, or a party, or California.
I guess what I’m saying is that Epic Meal Time was way better before they sold out and went too mainstream, alienating everybody in their original fanbase, like me. It was way better back when it was just some obscure Internet series you’d probably never heard of.
Truman Capps will be pleasantly surprised if he isn't inundated with responses from people saying, 'Hey, I like Deerhoof!'