“WHERE IS JULIA?” This was a common interrogative on Twitch’s chat bar last night as the hungry masses tuned in to watch livestreamed cooking shows, of course.
Wait. I thought Twitch was about watching other people play video games? Like, for people who couldn’t afford to buy Grand Theft Auto V right away but had to see what the game was all about. Why are chefs teaching me how the blanche things and shuck oysters? What is blanching?
Where’s the gratuitous, silly violence rendered by an oftentimes hilariously glitched-out physics engine? (See Exhibit A.)
Well, obviously Twitch is trying something new. Okay, cool. Why not? And it doesn’t necessarily come out of nowhere as there have been self-motivated Twitchers using the Creative channel to stream themselves cooking. DomesticDan is one such user who has streamed his own cooking show, among using Twitch for the traditional purposes of streaming Fallout 4.
But now Twitch has a dedicated channel to, that’s right, food. It all started last week when Twitch launched the channel with a four day marathon of Julia Child’s classic cooking show, The French Chef.
There’s something culturally ambivalent about a young generation of gamers known for its affinity to convenient meals now using Twitch to watch people cook food from scratch. I wonder how many are munching on a bag of Doritos while watching. Or if those viewers wonder about the oddity of themselves consuming delicious, artificially flavored snacks while imagining the heavenly smells being conjured on the other side of their internet connections. Then again, DomesticDan proves that hardcore gamers love to cook too. After all, everyone likes food, right?
Or maybe I’m overthinking this and people are just bored. Maybe the majority of viewers on Twitch are just that: viewers and nothing more. Like that episode of South Park where Kyle’s little brother would rather watch PewDiePie than actually play a video game. The cooking thing could be no more complex than base voyeurism. The comments to the right of the livestream seem to support this theory, along with adding an upending slew of comedic commentary.
Over 100 million people tune in to watch (gaming, usually) on Twitch every month. Apparently the company is just widening their audience. And it’s a weird digression. But hey, the number of viewers tuning in may see a drastic uptick as the site draws in new crowds.
If the cooking channel is successful, then what’s next? It could pave the way to more DIY type shows, but it could also pave the way to reality T.V. starring people who are famous for the sake of being famous.