Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Auntie Fee vs. Thug Kitchen

Another instance of appropriation? You be the judge. Auntie Fee of Facebook, You Tube and recently of some T.V. spots fame, is an African-American woman who dispenses economical ways of stretching your food dollar with today’s slim paychecks. Astrologer, Samuel F. Reynolds described her as the person who would emerge if Samuel L. Jackson and Martha Stewart had a baby. That’s…priceless. Aunt Fee doles out her recipes and wisdom from her kitchen with the aid of her son and his camera. See the results on her channel:

Her meals are not for the gourmand. It is filling food for those short on cash. Her delivery of the recipes is one-of-a-kind. This food you learn how to buy and make and enjoy eating if your butt is on a tight budget and your butt wants to eat! No arugula, no heirloom tomatoes, no truffles. But I’m sure that Auntie Fee would whip up a bitch of a meal with those items if you gave them to her.

This woman is the real, friggin’ deal. She started this to hand out tips to strapped households. She is sincere in her efforts and I hope it pays off for her.

Which brings me to the item called Thug Kitchen. It is a vegan cookbook in blackface, slapped together by two White twenty-somethings, who found it cute to use what is categorized as thug language to describe the preparation of straight-forward, no-nonsense meals. Anyone seeing the Elvis Effect here? Cute for whom, dear hearts? To what audience is this tome directed? Surely not the thug (code: urban, code: BLACK/BROWN) in the title. The people whose parlance you’ve borrowed may want cooking advice but they would NOT be the buyers of this ish. And you know it. How fortuitous that this book has dropped in time for Xmas gifting! How wondrous it will be to gather ’round yon holiday hearth over cocktails to deconstruct the recipe descriptions and the recipes themselves (whose ingredients, by the way, do not come from Bottom Dollar)! The only fretting that will arise will be “What 40 oz. goes with kale?”

Oh, the quandary!

The following is a comment from a guy on Facebook:

“Look, intellectualize it all you want, but these two wrote a book with the knowledge that it would be perceived as "ironic" -applying "street culture" (read: Black) to typically yuppie (read: White) trends - to appeal to a certain demographic. That demographic is generally the hipster kids of rich white parents, who don't think of themselves as racist but revel in these stereotypes and have no problem gentrifying the shit out of everything. So it's dishonest, bullshit marketing at best, and profiting off of tongue-in-cheek making fun of, and perpetuating racial stereotypes at worst.”

Out of the mouths of babes. This is a vegan cookbook. A cookbook coming out at holiday time which would have blended in with, and gotten lost in the crush of all the other overpriced, shiny cookbooks. It's a hit because of, and ONLY because of, its spin. Not its content. Veggies have been written about in cookbooks since...forever. 

So dear writers and publishers of Thug Kitchen, while depositing those royalty checks, darlings, do remember Aunt Fee and CUT HER A F*&^KIN’ CHECK!

Appropriation. ‘Tis a heady intoxicant. And so very profitable.

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