Chew on This: Disgust, Delay, and the Documentary Image in Food, Inc.

Jennifer Marilynn Barker


In comparison to activist films with an “in your face” aesthetic, Food, Inc. seems positively tame. Rather than shock viewers with direct images of distasteful, disgusting, immoral, and outrageous practices in the food industry, it provokes and performs physical and moral disgust by its paradoxical (and perhaps quintessentially documentary) combination of proximity and immediacy with distance and delay. This close textual analysis reveals the film’s use of images to defer, deflect, and dodge, in such a way as to emphasize the temporal ‘lag time’ that Sara Ahmed argues is intrinsic to disgust and that connects as well to what Malin Wahlberg calls ‘documentary time.’


disgust; documentary; food; animal; Food, Inc.; Wahlberg; Ahmed; spectatorship

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