When my Contemporary Documentary Media professor asked me to come up with a documentary to use as an example in class, to illustrate how documentaries are documents edited together to have a central narrative, the first thing that came to my mind was F*ck That’s Delicious. The series of documentaries, originally made for Vice online media, has since found new life on Vice’s new cable television channel, Viceland. The series is hosted by rapper, chef, and Queen’s native Action Bronson.
When asked what I thought the central theme or idea of the show was my first reaction was, “the central theme is Action Bronson is awesome.” The show can be summed up as “Hey, Viewer! Come watch Action be a talented rapper, and watch him cook gourmet food, and see him travel to parts of the world you probably haven’t been to, and watch him smoke weed, and watch him get tattoos. Look and be impressed!” It’s not a novel idea for a documentary or documentary series to be used as promotional material for an entertainer. Just look at Justin Beiber’s Never Say Never, or Lil Yachty’s Just Keep Sailing. But, upon further discussion with my professor, I began to see more possible interpretations of the main theme of the show.
Action is short and about three hundred pounds; so he is not the image of the ideal western man. But, there is something inherently sensual about him and how he interacts with the world. Maybe it’s his charisma and confidence. Maybe it’s his fiery red hair and cutting blue eyes. Maybe it’s how attune he is with his senses. A lot of the show is Action doing something inherently sensual, whether it’s him listening to music or eating food.
One possible interpretation became clear when I tried to compare F*ck That’s Delicious with a similar show Parts Unknown with Anthony Bordain. While I sometimes enjoy Parts Unknown there is validity to the criticism that the show follows the stereotypical narrative of “a handsome white man going to exotic places and showing the viewer other strange, unique, and new things in other cultures”. Whereas, F*ck that’s Delicious has never really seemed to have this same draw back. Action never seems like he’s a normal person in a strange or foreign land. Because Action has such a loud and unique personality on his own, the places he visits just seem to make sense that they would be part of Action’s world, instead of seeming exoticized.