Thug Kitchen: A miniature controversy

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Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

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106 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    Tool seems like a nice polite word for morons. Pretentious morons without a drab of common sense but, i’m assuming, a metric fuckton of Kale.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

      “East Coast/West Coast Ventriloquist Feud” is strange title for a comedy sketch, and it has attracted some controversy, especially after the writers revealed they are a couple of white 29-year-olds living in Hollywood.

      Of course they are.

      People are getting shot in the streets. This probably feels like a far-away problem to the writers of Mr. Show and their viewers.

      Still, these events are actually happening.

      Overall, I get the sense that the show’s writers are at least a bit insecure. Their writing strikes of trying way too hard. Their striving for hipness just demonstrates that they are tools. I feel bad saying, that, but the writing screams it at me.

      Then again, if they had presented a more honest picture of themselves, they might not have sold their show to HBO.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Glyph says:

        slowclap.gifReport

      • Avatar j r in reply to Glyph says:

        On the other hand there is this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBsE4ICwivA

        Is there remedial source for embedding to which someone can direct me? Every time I try it, it just don’t work.

        Or do I need to be logged into WP to make this happen?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        @j-r – RE: embedding. Are you clicking on the YT link (under “Share”) that says “Embed”? If you are, it should give you a little block of html code that should embed here. The preference is also to check the box that says ‘Use Old Embed Code’ and use that, since the default newer YT embed code seems to significantly slow down page loading here (though it has the advantage of usually showing up on mobile devices, which the older code doesn’t always).

        All that said, things occasionally gets twitchy somewhere between YT and WP and it doesn’t embed/loses the video entirely, though I personally haven’t had any problems for a while.Report

  2. Avatar zic says:

    Vegans.

    So long as they’re not eating organic food, I guess we can actually call them vegans — maybe. Otherwise, we’re simply dealing with people who have no appreciation whatsoever for taxonomy; so there’s already some questionable cultural appropriation going on.Report

  3. Avatar Stillwater says:

    First, this is what free markets get us, no? A website dedicated to verbally abusing readers into a better diet. Fuck yeah!!!

    On the other hand, I’m with you entirely about the posturing and self-aware aggrandizement of self aware grandness. (How many layers of meta is that? 3? 4?) I’d just remind you that this is what free markets get us given human nature and markets in a selfie culture, yeah?*

    *No markets or selfies were harmed in the writing of this comment.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Is it time for Freud Man?

    Ja. It is Time for Freud Man.

    What I really think these controversies have to do with are feelings and insecurities about “authenticity” and also saavy marketing. The authors in question probably felt like no one would pay attention to them if they were your typical vegan hippies or what not. Using the curse words and appropriating minority inner-city culture probably made them stand out among many other sites.

    That being said, I think there is something going on in the culture with working class cultures of all sorts being appropriated as being seen as being more authentic over upper-middle class office-work culture. I’ve said it before but I think the level of wealth and comfort in our country really does make people psychologically uneasy but not too much. We are rapidly becoming a post-Industrial and largely post-Agricultural economy and society and this makes people nervous. So you see yuppies give up on city life and start small organic farms in upstate New York (and then realize farming is hard and that they need day jobs). You have luxury condo buildings trying to market based on the names of the blue-collar industries that were formally located at the spots. A lot of Condos in Williamsburg are named after the former factories that occupied said spaces. There is an apartment in Boston called the Inkplot because it used to be the printing press of the Boston Globe. You see upper-middle class white professionals become more interested in tattoos and getting “inked” over say buying sports cars or something more formally traditionally associated with yuppies.*

    There is also something of a renaissance movement in cursing for the sake of cursing on social media. “I fucking love science” is a popular thing on facebook. I am not sure why the fucking is necessary. I also see a popular meme that says “Studies show people who curse more are more trustworthy.” There is no mention of which studies suggest this to be true.

    I’m intrigued and perplexed by this and also a bit of an outsider because I apparently speak with so little slang and curse so infrequently, that people point out my standard or formal way of speaking as unique. I’ve also had it pointed out when I do curse. But I am no sure why my upper-middle class suburban counterparts find their existence so worrying and bland and that it is more “authentic” to be working class. It seems to me that authentic is a relative proposition based on the chance of your background.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Dude, poor people in this country, especially black poor folks, have been driving culture since at least the time I was born. Rich people’s cultural tastes have never driven a damn thing other than getting folks to aspire to appearing to be rich.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I recommend watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding for an explanation of this. Even if it’s a different culture (Greek), it gets the Bland Brand pitch perfect.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      @stillwater

      Dude! I think you are taking your general disagreements with me and now reading things into my posts that I am not saying.

      No one doubts that most popular culture especially music is largely derived from Black-Americans (and Jews). Black-Americans mainly in music but TV and Movies are largely the realm of Jewish-immigrants especially Hollywood. There is also plenty of Jewish influence into popular music.

      One can still listen to and appreciate Black-American contributions to popular culture without feeling the need to fully emulate because it seems more “authentic”.

      You are also not dressing the observations I am making about yuppie-condos taking their names from blue-collar occupations or industries as a marketing sales technique (this probably works on a very unconscious level). Nor are you dressing the points on cursing for no seeming reason.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Uhmm. cuz the first sentence of your response as well as the following sentences expressed disagreement with what I wrote? Maybe?

      If that’s a reading comprehension failure on my part I apologize. But I usually interpret sentences expressing disagreement with … you know … disagreement.

      Saul, just to be clear here, you and I are light years apart on most political issues, all cultural issues and maybe even some stuff in mathematics and physics. I think we have to live with that. And I’m not gonna just ignore what you write cuz I disagree with it. That’s not why I come to this site.

      Sorry bout that. Don’t think I’m atrollin!!Report

    • I pretty strongly endorse @saul-degraw ‘s comment here and agree with almost all of it. The only quibble I’d have is the source of the unease. I think it has more to do with accessibility than current economic discomfort. But a pretty great comment.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

        Here’s how Saul ended the comment you endorse:

        But I am no sure why my upper-middle class suburban counterparts find their existence so worrying and bland and that it is more “authentic” to be working class. It seems to me that authentic is a relative proposition based on the chance of your background.

        I’ll answer that rhetorical question. You might not like it, tho. Folks who actually exude sweat during the course of their work day are distinctly different than those who don’t. And it’s not because those who don’t sweat tend to make more money for the committed time. (As if it were that simple, tho on a certain analysis it certainly is.) It’s that when a person sweats to achieve a goal, part of their life goes into the task. It’s right there in the results. Effort = results. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s in some sense – to use a term Saul used – authentic.

        White collar jobs are largely defined, personality-wise, in terms of people who just don’t want to get their hands dirty. (That’s not true for all white collar types, but since we’re getting into cultural stuff this seems fair.) They’re one level (at least!, hopefully a couple more!) above the sad souls who actually make the shit that salesmen sell; than the accountants who balance the books; than the junior VPs who tell everyone in their department what to do. In other words, their atleast one level (hopefully more!) above folks who actually work for a living.

        We live in a society that at the exact same time bitches about the loss of manufacturing jobs to overseas ventures even while it views those same jobs as the type of shit ought to be avoided at all costs. you gotta get your hands dirty to do that stuff, right? ANd sweat? And put your back into it? All that?

        Saul, you wanna do that? Get your hands dirty as a welder, or plastics man, or bricklayer?

        Or do you wanna get a fat paycheck off of the efforts of all those other folks who are willing to do that and drive an economy in which you, as a lawyer, can make more than them just so you can live the life you always imagined you were born into?

        Another way to say it is I have no problem with people making informed, value-based choices about their career paths, but I really do – like really do – have a problem with folks who identify with a white collar job culture criticizing blue collar folks for defining culture.

        I mean, give’em a fucking bone, ya damn parasite.Report

      • The “give’em a bone” argument had actually formulated in the back of my mind – though not with that wording.

        Except insofar as it may be in their best interest, in parts at least, I haven’t a strong feeling like the working class ought to aspire to emulate white collars or not. The other direction? Well, on the one hand there is something deeply false (or, at least, inauthentic) about that. It’s the taking of the markers of the People of Effort, and using them without actually doing what they do and the ability to take them off, when it’s convenient (except when it comes to tattoos, and some of the others). This is more of what I took Saul to be talking about.

        On the other hand, damn you if you want to take my steel-toed boots away from me and a hat-tip to the folks who wear them with more justification than I (though, to be fair, I first got them for practical reasons). And lingering in there is the part about accessibility, and a mild unease at the notion of firming of barriers that aren’t entirely healthy.

        Which leaves me in a conflicted position.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Will Truman says:

        @stillwater

        Since in the larger picture of things, their marginal contribution to the social product is less than what they extract from it via welfare and the social safety net, I’m pretty sure its blue collar folks who are the parasites (right after lawyers and politicians).Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

        I’m pretty sure its blue collar folks who are the parasites

        Mind boggling.

        ???Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Will Truman says:

        @stillwater

        What else do you call a person who, over his lifetime, takes more from society than he contributes?Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Will Truman says:

        What else do you call a person who, over his lifetime, takes more from society than he contributes?

        White collar.

        I say this, as a white collar worker myself.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        Yeah, I mean who needs cars, roads, bridges, houses, or sewers. What society really can’t do without it is sales projections and marketing reports.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Will Truman says:

        @mike-schilling

        1. Yeah, but the people who do that sort of stuff are replaceable or at least more interchangeable than people who project sales figures for the next month. Projecting sales figures for the next month provides a greater marginal contribution to the total social product than brick-laying. That’s why an executive commands a higher salary in the market. Perhaps in the aggregate brick-layers and farmers do a job that is more necessary, but, individually, any given farmer or brick layer is less

        2. Its a counter-intuitive idea, but there is a real sense in which the actions of people who do not directly make stuff individually and maybe even collectively cause more stuff to be made than people who directly make stuff could make without the contributions of the former.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        I’ll admit that all the bricklayers in all the countries in all the world couldn’t cause as much economic devastation as a relatively small number of extremely well paid financial geniuses did just a few years ago.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Will Truman says:

        @mike-schilling

        I didn’t say that the system was perfect.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Will Truman says:

        “It’s that when a person sweats to achieve a goal, part of their life goes into the task. It’s right there in the results.”

        does a designer – a “creative” if you will – put part of their life into their task? (let’s presume they’re working on something they like)

        does a dockloader put their life into their task? does part of their life drive away when the truck leaves?

        i think you have accidentally hit saulian levels of whuuuuuuuuuut.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        I would argue that working class culture is seen as more real because it’s perceived as rawer and therefore more natural than upper middle class culture. Genteel charm, like the type displayed by Cary Grant or Myrna Loy, isn’t exactly popular these days as persona.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Will Truman says:

        “working class culture is seen as more real”

        by whom? for whom? i certainly grew up with plenty “we work for a living” vis-a-vis management and bosses but “real-ness” was not ever in play.

        did the entire world become some kind of polygonal honor culture while i was in the can or something?Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:

        @stillwater

        There was nothing in my argument about whether blue collar culture or attitudes were inferior or not. I was commenting on a very real world thing of yuppie condo buildings being marketed and named after the former blue collar occupations that happened on the spot.

        http://www.citylab.com/design/2014/09/when-neighborhood-re-branding-celebrates-whats-disappearing/379788/

        “Aptly named, I always thought, and a nod to the history and heritage of a changing city. Yet there’s such a fine line, in terms of being a little too cute. The condos, sold for up to $2 million, are being marketed, wistfully, as Sepia at the Ink Block, a reference to the brownish ink and photographic presentation that evokes an old-fashioned, turn-of-the-century feel. In a life-size picture just down from J.J. Foley’s, a young professional is happily riding his bike, a freeze frame in this new urban paradise.”

        Further down:

        “Restaurants are legendary for getting into this act, too. Visiting South Boston the other day, where I once lived, I noticed a gleaming new bistro called Local 149, billed as “a neighborhood joint in the Citypoint section … a location with historic roots, distinctive character, and heart and soul.” The number refers to the street address, but it’s clearly also a play on the dominant union presence in this part of town. The Ironworkers Local 7 headquarters is a few blocks away. I’m just not sure anybody in a hardhat is coming in to order the flash-seared yellowtail Hamachi.”

        All I am doing is looking at this issue and looking at causes. I don’t live in a yuppie condo named after a former blue-collar activity. I live in a ten unit building built sometimes in the late 30s or early 40s.

        What seems to be going on here is that you can’t over the fact that I am still trying for a career in my field when you gave up and adjusted downwards as you admitted in previous threads and I think you find my continuing try morally wrong for some reason. At the very least it seems to piss you off.

        Now I will wait for you to rant about how my moralizing is proving Hanley and Roger right about liberals and you are going to become a libertarian. Again.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:

        @dhex

        By the people who read stuff like Shopcraft is Soulcraft and Modern Farmer as potential examples. The whole localism/artisinal product thing seemed to largely flair up because of the recession and the dearth of work for recent graduates. This seems to be when a lot of people tried to start their own mini-food companies that make 4 dollar cups of coffee or 10 dollar chocolate bars and the like.

        The best point I saw about this movement was in New York magazine and it was a quip on how people who buy 11 dollar jars of jam are usually different than people who make 11 dollar jars of jam. So even the shopcraft/artisinal product movement can’t escape the relatively economic elite (aka yuppies).Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Will Truman says:

        White collar jobs are largely defined, personality-wise, in terms of people who just don’t want to get their hands dirty. (That’s not true for all white collar types, but since we’re getting into cultural stuff this seems fair.) They’re one level (at least!, hopefully a couple more!) above the sad souls who actually make the shit that salesmen sell; than the accountants who balance the books; than the junior VPs who tell everyone in their department what to do. In other words, their atleast one level (hopefully more!) above folks who actually work for a living.

        This has to be about as big a load of bullshit as I’ve seen in some time. In fact, the whole conversation between @stillwater and @murali might as well be happening in cartoon panels. It is all mood affiliation. What empirical evidence can either of you offer to the assertion that one whole class of people contributes more than one whole other class of people? Even if you had empirical evidence, it would still be bull. The world simply does not work this way.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        Murali,
        Yeah, Because when you buy something, you’re making sure you’re not buying it from CHILDREN. You’re calling these kids, without parents, who are busy working in order to not need to flee to another country parasites.

        … you’re pro-child labor, right?

        Maybe you just meant American blue collar workers? Expand that a little — all americans are parasites.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        Saul,
        Just because they’re working Closer To You doesn’t mean that the artisan craft thing started during the recession.

        Ya know how many Amish make furniture? Or bullwhips (Yay for yuppie sex toys! Oh, that Amish guy’s in jail now, I’m pretty sure. Cut off someone’s beard.)Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Will Truman says:

        “By the people who read stuff like Shopcraft is Soulcraft and Modern Farmer as potential examples.”

        this is why people laugh at the times’ style and arts and culture coverage. so maybe 2k people with hella disposable income are having some kind of weird fit over signaling disguised as semantics disguised as lifestyle advice?

        (this post is disguised as wit)Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Will Truman says:

        Admittedly, I was being facetious. I’m not the one who brought up the notion that some class of people are the parasites in society. But if you want to play the game of who, as a class, the parasites are in liberal societies with welfare states, blue collar working class folk wont win that fight.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Will Truman says:

        Perhaps we should all just agree that applying the term parasite to a whole class of people is just a very bad analogy.Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      @saul-degraw

      “What I really think these controversies have to do with are feelings and insecurities about “authenticity” and also saavy marketing. The authors in question probably felt like no one would pay attention to them if they were your typical vegan hippies or what not. Using the curse words and appropriating minority inner-city culture probably made them stand out among many other sites.”

      This! More the savvy marketing I think. Far better than coming off a white Cali hipsters. F’in hipsters!Report

  5. Avatar RTod says:

    Wait… is “thug” a black thing? When did it become a black thing?Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to RTod says:

      Ever since Richard Sherman (well, sorta…), Stanford alum and incredibly intelligent black man, was called a “thug” after NFC Championship game for gettin busy with Michael Crabtree. You know that dontcha? C’mon man!Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to Stillwater says:

        Personally, I think that the proprietors of Thug Kitchen and Richard Sherman have a lot in common. They all are well-educated and articulate – good communicators. They hold down well-paying jobs, and are looking to promote themselves and hold the public eye.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to Stillwater says:

        Seriously though, I’m with @rtod. In most of my life, “thug” did not mean black person. It most comfortably came after “jackbooted” after all, and I’m pretty sure that Nazis weren’t black.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        Doctor Jay,

        I’m not about to challenge a black person on the subtleties on their perceived expressions of dominant culture racism. They might be right or wrong. I just know that the dominant culture which I’m a member of is is racist, and the signals exist. That just seems obvious to me.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to Stillwater says:

        @stillwater Well, yeah, white supremacy is still a thing. And the owners of the website in question seem to me to be doing the eye-rolling “shock” thing that @saul-degraw just wrote -about. Their enthusiastic embrace of “motherfucker” does seem a call-out to certain of Samuel Jackson’s performances.

        Furthermore, “thug” has its origin in the Thuggee cult. So it’s kind of racist all the way down.

        The Google ngram viewer is interesting. Is the surge in use from 1980 tied to racism? I couldn’t say, but it could be a replacement for “nigger”.

        And for fun, I checked “jackbooted thugs” which enjoyed a huge surge in about 1990, but it’s usage is miniscule compared to “thug”. So I guess my memory doesn’t go all that far back.Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to RTod says:

      @rtod

      Well, originally, “thug” was a brown thing.Report

  6. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    Considering the love affair that American reality television has with rednecks, it shouldn’t be surprising that pop culture might try to co-opt the ‘thug’ concept. The problem is that it will be seen as racist, whereas laughing at those silly rednecks is just good fun.Report

  7. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I’ve been reading thug kitchen off and on for a while. Yes, the hip-hop persona is over-the-top. Which is part of what makes it fun. I’m not at all surprised to learn that the authors are young white people from Hollywood. That’s pretty much what I assumed from the particular flavor of heavy hip-hop stylings in their prose.

    I liked it, and still do, in part because it demonstrates that being a vegan does not necessarily mean that you are a pusillanimous wimp, nursing a purple kale and soy milk smoothie while extolling the virtues of every durable good on earth being manufactured from hemp to your fellow members of the collective discussion group, all of whom sport tie-dyed sandals, uncut hair innocent of shampoo for lo these many years, and pupils just a fraction too dilated for polite company. The aggressive, vulgar language spoke of power, action, participation in urban life, and most of all an endearing cockiness.

    Alsotoo, the recipes are pretty good.while reading thug kitchen did not break me of eating meat, since I started following the blog, but I’ve still had plenty of tasty things to eat. I’ve had many more vegetarian meals than I did previously. Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, I’ve managed to shed a few pounds.

    I guess what I’m saying is, perhaps it’s contrived, perhaps some people find it offputting, perhaps it doesn’t conform to stereotypes of blissed out peaceful hippies, perhaps it points to white appropriation of elements of black culture (something that has been going on in this country for generations), and at times perhaps it’s unnecessarily vulgar and a little bit silly, but for me, it works.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Full disclosure: I noted Thug Kitchen here a while back.

      https://ordinary-times.com/jaybird/2013/05/stinky-saturday/

      ” it demonstrates that being a vegan does not necessarily mean that you are a pusillanimous wimp”

      That’s one way to look at it.

      Another is, it’s a joke. It takes two things that normally are seen as diametrically opposed – veganism, which in the US at least tends to be associated with white, middle-to-upper class, and “thug”/”hard-man” macho street posturing, and juxtaposes the two to (arguably) humorous effect.

      If people are still having trouble with the underlying concept, simply picture Ira Glass wearing Wu Wear (matter of fact, I could just as easily have above embedded the Chappelle Show sketch, in which the Clan gives financial investment advice).

      It could have easily been “Black Metal Kitchen”, or “Redneck/Cable Guy Kitchen”, and it would have been the same basic idea.

      I swear, I love all you guys, but if there was ever an Overthinking It Olympics, this site would be in the running.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Glyph says:

        @glyph

        You wouldn’t be surprised about how often I’ve been accused of overthinking things.

        More seriously, I tend towards overthought because I often think people don’t think things through enough.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Glyph says:

        Yes indeed, that frog is well and truly dissected.Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to Glyph says:

        Another is, it’s a joke. It takes two things that normally are seen as diametrically opposed – veganism, which in the US at least tends to be associated with white, middle-to-upper class, and “thug”/”hard-man” macho street posturing, and juxtaposes the two to (arguably) humorous effect.

        If people are still having trouble with the underlying concept, simply picture Ira Glass wearing Wu Wear (matter of fact, I could just as easily have above embedded the Chappelle Show sketch, in which the Clan gives financial investment advice).

        It could have easily been “Black Metal Kitchen”, or “Redneck/Cable Guy Kitchen”, and it would have been the same basic idea.

        Bingo bango.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Glyph says:

        y’all are familiar with vegan black metal chef, right?

        Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        Wendy Davis’ campaign made Wu Wear campaign shirts:

        http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wendy-davis-sports-wu-tang-clan-themed-shirt/story?id=26687461

        Twitter was divided between people who thought it was cool and people who were pissed. In other words, it was another day on the internet.Report

      • Avatar kenB in reply to Glyph says:

        I swear, I love all you guys, but if there was ever an Overthinking It Olympics, this site would be in the running.

        Hmm, I don’t know — if there really were such an Olympics, it would be taking competitors from across the world, and there are a lot of people out there who put way too much analysis into stuff, so I’m not really sure this site would be in medal contention. But I guess if it’s an Olympics, then there would have to be specific categories of overthinking, so maybe this site is especially good at a certain kind. I suppose if we pulled up the last few months of posts and reviewed the comments history, then we could come up with a few sorts of overthinking that we really excel at. Of course, I’m not clear on how the judging would work — I mean, can you really compare different instances of overthinking in a way that would produce an ordinal ranking? Also you’d have a problem in that the best judges for overthinking would probably themselves be prone to overthinking, so it might take impractically long to determine who gets which medal. On the other hand…Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        @dhex – I knew I should have asked you if there actually WAS a “Black Metal Kitchen”. I am not surprised in the least.

        @kenb – Well played. Well played, indeed.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

        “Another is, it’s a joke. It takes two things that normally are seen as diametrically opposed – veganism, which in the US at least tends to be associated with white, middle-to-upper class, and “thug”/”hard-man” macho street posturing, and juxtaposes the two to (arguably) humorous effect.

        If people are still having trouble with the underlying concept, simply picture Ira Glass wearing Wu Wear (matter of fact, I could just as easily have above embedded the Chappelle Show sketch, in which the Clan gives financial investment advice).

        It could have easily been “Black Metal Kitchen”, or “Redneck/Cable Guy Kitchen”, and it would have been the same basic idea.”
        @glyph

        But when you are adopting elements of a culture you have no connection to, you are skating on thin ice. And when you do it as stupidly as these guys seem to have, you’re in the water.

        If these were guys who listen to death metal music AND eat vegan, okay, go for it. But saying, “Hey, you can be a thug and a vegan. We’re not. But, I mean, probably someone is, right? Eh, too much work. Let’s just fake it”? What’s funny about that? What am I supposed to be laughing at?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        I will say this, these guy’s representation of “thug culture,” which seems to consist of inserting “fuck” and “shit” into sentences is pretty damn stupid. From the Amazon preview:

        “olive oil: We use extra virgin olive oil because we buy this shit by the barrel, but pure olive oil is cool, too, and cheaper.”

        “Staple Ingredients on Lock

        You don’t need to run out and blow a whole paycheck on this shit right now. Yeah it looks like a lot, but you will build up your pantry as you cook new recipes and buy a bunch of staple ingredients. The more you cook using these items, the cheaper your meals will get. Sure, you have to drop 3 dollars on a jar of ground cumin now, but you will use that shit for months and months before you have to buy it again. Look over the list below and keep it in the back of your mind for when these fuckers go on sale.”

        So they use some vague, antiquated slang, and throw in some curse words, and that’s “Thug.”Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Glyph says:

        There are also important technical differences on when one should use pressed (i.e. virgin, extra virgin) olive oil and when one should use filtered olive oil.

        For people that say they’re trying to cut through the male bovine excrement, they’re doing a terrible job.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Glyph says:

        K,
        smoking point?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        @kazzy Sorry so long to reply, I had a small medical procedure today and am kind of seeing badly out of one eye, plus I feel like I was punched in the face. Wanted to get back to a big screen and real keyboard to respond.

        I am pessimistic that we will find much common ground here, since you and I seem to be going into this with very different assumptions regarding things like authorial intent, cultural appropriation, and likely effect of the work; as well as the purpose of comedy itself, which past discussions have indicated that you require to always have a ‘target’ or point, whereas for me, ‘absurdity’ is more than sufficient.

        But when you are adopting elements of a culture you have no connection to, you are skating on thin ice.

        “Adopting”? I’d go with “utilizing”, or maybe “riffing”.

        And what is the “thin ice”, exactly? Can you explain to me, exactly, who is being hurt by this book?

        Real thugs, of any color?

        Black men getting wrongly accused of being thugs, due to something someone read in a putatively-humorous vegan cookbook somewhere once – one that, AFAIK, uses no racial terms (at least, I never saw any on the site that I recall; not that I visited it more than once or thrice around the time I pointed it out last year)?

        And when you do it as stupidly as these guys seem to have, you’re in the water.

        What makes you say they’ve done what they set out to do, ‘stupidly’? They started a website, gained attention, parlayed that into a book deal, and now are getting free publicity, from you and me, right now.

        If these were guys who listen to death metal music AND eat vegan, okay, go for it.

        Ah, so there’s a test; and if they pass, they may proceed? Most kind of you.

        But saying, “Hey, you can be a thug and a vegan. We’re not. But, I mean, probably someone is, right? Eh, too much work. Let’s just fake it”? What’s funny about that? What am I supposed to be laughing at?

        I hate to break this to you, but David Cross and Bob Odenkirk aren’t ventriloquists, or rappers, or R&B singers, or a white-trash roustabout refugee from COPS named Ronnie and his unethical-yet-musically-talented British producer, but they were still pretty funny, if you ask me.

        Also: excessive, unearned verbal aggression, macho posturing and/or profanity, used out of place, can in fact be humorous.

        Not that it always IS, of course; but it can be, and that is often at least its intent.

        Kazzy, haven’t you, yourself, in the course of laying down the rules for a Mt. Rushmore post, arbitrarily declared rule X, and justified that arbitrary rule thus:

        “Why? Because fish you, that’s why!”

        Heck, just the other day I was mock-threatening Sam with a fight to the death, in a Gilmore Girls post.

        Gilmore Girls.

        Humor is of course highly subjective, but is often derived from the surprise of someone getting chocolate in your peanut butter; two things that don’t seem to belong together, being admixed.

        In closing, may I recommend the autobiography of Herbert Kornfeld (R.I.P., H-Dog, mourn ya ’til I join ya.)Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

        @glyph

        First off, no need to apologize for a delay in response for any reason. Hope you’re feeling better.

        Let’s walk this back a bit… what do you think the authors mean by “thug”? Does “thug” = “profane” in their book? Because that is a pretty odd definition of “thug”. And that seems to be the only thing that really sets them apart. So… again… why did the authors choose to title their project “Thug Kitchen”?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        Who knows? Maybe they were sauteing some sprouts (or whatever the hell vegans eat, I don’t know) and listening to Tupac, and that juxtaposition struck them as funny, and they ran with it; but the only way they could think of to make their recipes sound ‘street’ or ‘hard man’ (that is: ‘not stereotypical effete vegan’), was to curse a lot.

        Why does it matter*?

        And had they cut back on the cursing, but instead attempted to approximate a more ‘authentic’ rap/street/AAVE dialect in their text, I doubt you’d have less of a problem with that.

        Even if they were patterning their text on Eminem!

        (Also, as an aside, I know that ‘thug’ is sometimes used as code for ‘black’ – and I agree that it is being used here in a way that intentionally suggests stereotypical black hip-hop/street slang braggadocio – but having gorged on lots of detective and superhero fiction growing up, the word ‘thug’ is for me synonymous with ‘goon’, ‘hired muscle’, or ‘henchman’, any of which should ideally be growled in your best Bogie or Batman.)

        Also: Are we debating whether what the authors are doing is right/wrong, or whether it is funny/not funny?

        And is there an intersection between the two axes, where ‘funny’ can potentially turn ‘wrong’ into ‘right’, or at least into ‘less-wrong’?

        And what’s your opinion on the H-Dog? Because that column ran for a long time, and it’s basically the same joke.

        If anything, it leans harder and more explicitly on racial stereotypes and exaggerated parody of AAVE speech patterns, than does Thug Kitchen.

        Full disclosure: I think H-Dog was HILARIOUS. He’s a corporate accountant, who gets into gang brawls with other departments, using his Letta Opena of Death! Wacky!

        If things get heated and Dave comes in here swinging the banhammer and threatening to bounce one of us, and the other tells Dave, “Yo, that move was straight-up gangsta, Dave!” (or whatever the kids say these days), are we going to hell?

        Or are we just being silly?

        *I responded piece by piece to your comment, and asked a lot of questions in my response; and I can’t help but notice that you didn’t answer even one of mine, just posed your own.

        I’d like to repeat one question, and get it answered please: Who, specifically, is being hurt by a vegan cookbook titled Thug Kitchen? The Real Thugs of AmericaTM, who would like us to know that they really don’t speak that way, and also enjoy the occasional cheeseburger?Report

  8. Avatar Kolohe says:

    These guys seem bitter, but nothing a three to four minute blanching can’t fix.Report

  9. Avatar Mo says:

    White comics regularly make fun of themselves, but I can’t think of a black comic who indulges to the same extent.

    Isn’t this Kevin Hart’s whole schtick? He’s hardly an obscure comic.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Mo says:

      Also, there are different ways of making fun of oneself. One could argue that Kat Williams’ schtick involves making fun of himself, even if it seems like he’s not. I’m thinking, for example, of the bit in which he buys his kid 100 toys from the dollar store instead of 1 $100 toy from the toy store.Report

  10. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    I remember when Thug Kitchen was a joke. Now it’s public. And there are a lot of people out there who take a special personal pride in Not Getting Jokes.Report

  11. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Thug has become a byword for a certain kind of persona that’s associated with black men. But unlike other terms, that meaning is but a narrow deviation from a more general, but very associated meaning that isn’t restricted to an association with black men (union thugs, Al Capone’s thugs, etc. A thug is a thug, it’s really not a black thing entirely). I can see where there would be discomfort with a couple of white authors appropriating the former meaning, though I would say that that discomfort probably should come to rest on the, “You know what, this is one of those things I actually don;t have to spend part of my day getting outraged about on Twitter” line, but of course P’sMV.

    But we actually have to be sure they meant ot appropriate that meaning. It seems to me they ought to be able to be free to use the second meaning I describe. You can write a book in which you say you’re going to be a thug about bullying people into eating better without having claimed to be a “thug.” We don;t have the book in front of us, so I feel like I can’t judge. I don’t think the swearing in the excerpts differentiates it one way or the other. I will say that I find the swearing to be over-the-top in something of a self-conscious way, so what I see of it kind of works for me. I see the humor in it, which is to say it’s exactly not cringe-inducing in an Eminem-at-The-Concert-For-Valor way.

    Happy M—–F—ing Veterans Day!Report

  12. Avatar Jaybird says:

    If they wanted something edgy, couldn’t they have looked and seen if there are any “bad boy” vegetarians in history and associated themselves with him?Report

  13. Avatar Kazzy says:

    They’re trying to be hard but then turn and run when folks give resistance? That’s pretty much all that needs to be said.

    They’re posers, through and through.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

      Yes, they are trying to be “hard” and overcome “resistance”, which is why they wrote a “vegan cookbook”, the most dangerous weapon “The Man” has ever faced.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

        Now you’ve lost me. Is their point that one can be simultaneously hard and vegan? Or that there is something inherently ridiculous about being hard and vegan?

        Because I never saw anything contradictory in being vegan and being hard. So maybe the entirety of their project is just lost on me because the very premise is not absurd.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        You are contending that they want to be “hard” and have been revealed to be “posers”.

        (You also posit a bizarre scenario in which there is some need of brave ‘resistance’ to a comedic vegan cookbook. Yeah! We’ve got The Man on the run! Viva la revolucion!)

        I am contending that they know full well that they are not ‘hard’, and only affected that voice because they thought it funny juxtaposed in relation to vegan topics; and enough people agreed, that they got a book deal.

        Honestly dude, no offense, but I’m leaving this. This feels like banging my head against a wall, and that has basically already happened today to me IRL. One or both of us is starting with too many assumptions to reach any common ground. I just don’t understand your POV and you don’t mine, and that’s OK. I’m going to bed.Report