Saturday, October 11, 2014

Neoliberal Voyeuristic Entertainment, 2014


I won't begrudge these kids this visit to a fancy restaurant. It may well be highly memorable for them, and as an indirect result, one (or more) of them may grow up to become a great chef — or more fittingly, an activist pursuing things that really matter, such as social and economic justice, that have gotten short shrift in recent years at the hands of both major political parties.

Some may see this visit as "charming" — and indeed, in the most literal sense, it is. Still, considering that the tasting menu alone runs $220 per person at this restaurant, and that New York State Education Department data for the 2012-13 school year shows that 81% of students at this school are eligible for a free lunch, an honest look must also see that this arranged restaurant visit filmed for The New York Times delivers a neoliberal/neoconservative-style minimally-beneficial gesture with the usual out-of-proportion attention and laudation, an aura of voyeuristic entertainment from how these out-of-their-environment children will comport themselves, and perhaps even a hint of "My Fair Lady", writ small.


I note this morning that the NYT apparently changed the article's headline subsequent to my first screen grab, with both the original headline and the change revealing their (perhaps subconscious) pro-"1%" outlook, something that had escaped my notice at the time of my original post.

Their headline now reads "What Happens When Second Graders Are Treated to a Seven-Course, $220 Tasting Meal". Previously, it read "Can Second-Graders Appreciate A Seven-Course, $220 Tasting Meal?".

Now, these children are "treated" to the largesse of the upper class. Previously, the focus was on whether they could "appreciate" what they couldn't afford.

(In both cases, the primary photo run by the NYT was the same, a minority child at the restaurant table. My screen grab shows a food plate, because I made the screen capture as the Times' video ran).

Text Copyright: Fred Drumlevitch

Fred Drumlevitch blogs irregularly at
He can be reached at FredDrumlevitch12345(at)