Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

It's all over now. More than 90,000 willing people from around the world have gone home. The competitions are concluded. "Winners" have been determined. Untold pigs have been consumed. You, at least, have survived.

The degradation was almost total, the mockery and scorn thick enough to spear with a fork. Here was a gathering of people who love pork and hate pigs (and who aren't too crazy about the state of their own arteries, either).

There was all the ridicule and "humor" we have come to expect from any barbecue event, starting with the official logo. A poor pig, happy to have given his life for such a fine "cause," beams at us from heaven. Up in that Land of Repose, he can not sniff what the event's official website calls the "sweetest smelling cloud."

As these pictures document, the World Championship Barbecue Contest was a highwater mark in the Suicide Food movement:

Is this smiling fellow to the right aware that crispy critters is medical jargon? When doctors and paramedics, with their celebrated gallows humor, use the term, it means "people suffering from severe burns." Would it matter if he were aware? Could the whole sick business be any more morbid?

Here we see an uncharacteristic—but still mean-spirited—acknowledgement of the complexity of the movement. The pig—her very body—announces her love of butchered pigs, but—can you see it there? A single tear reveals her ambivalence about the proposition. No matter! There are pigs to cook and consume! She knows where her loyalties lie. So buck up, old sow! You won't have to suffer your ambivalence long!

What's this? A demon of vengeance risen from its ungodly tomb, its crimson fury a fateful warning? At last! Those killers, those defilers will taste... Wait a sec. No, this is just another glad-to-be-dead animal. Apparently, this "super" pig's super-power is the power to sizzle. In other words, he cooks up good. (Evidently, vengeance ain't what it used to be.)

What barbecue gathering would be complete without weird sexual innuendo? The print might be too small to read comfortably.

BBQ is:
Sweet meat,
Somebody who cares,
& a whole lotta
Hot Love!!

And then, naturally, the sow, all tarted up in her earrings, whore's make-up, and slit dress. May we be blunt and say that barbecuers have issues? And having said that, may we—please!—move on?

Finally, from the Adding Insult to Injury Department, comes this homely image. It would seem that the appropriate way to cap off a three-day carnivorous binge is by taking out your residual hatred of pigs on a pig effigy. Engorged, they beat on this symbolic pig with baseball bats until they can gorge themselves anew on simulated meat.

(Thanks to Drs. Mary and Mama Squirrel for the referral.)

("Crispy Critters" and "Super Swine Sizzlers" images © Memphis in May; "I Love B.B.Q.," "BBQ is," and the piñata images courtesy of Mama Squirrel.)


+ said...

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Anonymous said...

I remember "Crispy Critters" being a term Vietnam soldiers used for the victims of napalm attacks. So, I'd have curled a lip at that sign for a slightly different reason than you give.

I once saw a breakfast cereal called Crispy Critters, too. It was your usual crunchy sugary kibble stuff, but shaped like animals. It didn't last long.

Kaitlen said...

I've got another one for you: NY EMTs (and maybe cops, but I can only vouch for the EMTs) call people who hit the third rail in the subway "crispy critters." Ouch.

And I, too, remember Crispy Critters cereal. My friend Sandy was in the print ads for it.

Anonymous said...

When I see "crispy critters," I think of barbecued grasshoppers and other insects. Not appetizing.