Aesthetics and the senses / Food and Culture

The Meat of the Argument

Sep 10, 2012 3:01 PM

The Meat of the Argument


Regardless of one’s political affiliations or tendencies it is difficult not to recognize that anxieties, animosities, and attitudes crescendo during election years.  With November looming, the “steaks” have never been higher for Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.  Perhaps it is for this reason that these “jerky boys” seem so poignant right now. Artist Jason Mecier assembled these political collage portraits from a whopping 50 bags of beef jerky. In a contentious election year, Mercier’s portraiture might smack of an irresponsible political engagement bordering on the smug, the sarcastic, and the downright snarky. Yet, a closer examination of the day’s politics shed interesting light on the symbolic properties of Mercier’s work.

With the country in a recession, unemployment percentages and number of jobs created have become the real meat of this political battle. Yet, while numbers can vary, the general anxiety of the populace remains a palpable reality. In a world where individuals are concerned about where their next paycheck might come from, Mercier’s choice of beef jerky is poignant. Traditionally a sustenance food, jerky is an inexpensive source of protein that is shelf stable as it is produced by salting and drying.  These days, Americans are perhaps most familiar with beef jerky in extra-social settings. As such it is a food familiar to those individuals who are camping, backpacking, or perhaps preparing a natural disaster survival kit.  To render the potus and his opponent, two figures who dominate the social forum, from such a meat product draws attention to a substantial dichotomy.

As those who hold public office struggle to debate and define the parameters under which they will offer salvation to a receding economy, the private lives of the individuals feel the recession in their very act of consumption.  Cheap, quick, sustainable – the comestible composition of the politicians seems to echo the need of the American for palpable, tangible politics — politics that matter in the daily lives of the populace. And that is the real meat of the issue.

Image sourced from:


One thought on “The Meat of the Argument

  1. Few topics inspire as much impassioned debate as politics, which involves many of our most personal beliefs. Yet the debate around whether to eat meat also involves many personal beliefs of equal conviction. This presidential campaign has incorporated discussions of religion, health, morality, and personal choice. Interestingly, these are issues are also central to debates between vegetarians and carnivores. I see some interesting parallels between the subject and the medium in this piece.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s