Hell hath too much fury

Kate Bigam

If you’ve ever been publicly humiliated for doing a job incorrectly (think Cher in Clueless when she files her dad’s papers under the wrong date), you know how painfully degrading in-the-limelight embarrassment can be.

No one likes to be publicly shamed. That’s a given.

But if you’ve ever witnessed a friend’s argument with his or her parents while you’re sitting embarrassedly on the sidelines, you know it can be equally painful to watch verbal tirades in action – even if you’re far removed from that action.

So riddle me this: Why does America love “Hell’s Kitchen”?

The show, broadcast Monday evenings this summer, is a product of Fox, the same station that brings us the verbal battering of infamous Englishman Simon Cowell. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the television mega-giant has hit it big with yet another show that has gained popularity based on its audience’s enjoyment of oral assault.

In “Hell’s Kitchen,” fledgling chefs struggle to service a restaurant of the same name. Their reality-TV exploits play out in Battle of the Sexes-style competition, and every night they service real customers – sort of.

After four episodes, these chefs have largely demonstrated incompetence. From a Waffle House cook to a personal nanny, their inexperience is evident as they bumble Beef Wellingtons and wreck risottos.

At the show’s heart is renowned chef Gordon Ramsay, the Satan figure in this on-screen inferno. Honestly, though, I can’t imagine the devil being as brutal or cruel as Ramsay has proven himself to be.

Week after week, he tears his chefs apart. He calls them bitches, idiots, donkeys and dumb blondes – and those are the nicest insults I could print. His degrading diatribes are so vulgarity-ridden it’s oftentimes impossible to discern what he might have said because the bleeps outnumber the words.

It follows, then, that week after week, the would-be chefs experience emotional breakdowns, sobbing into spaghetti and blubbering into bok choi. Worse, they break down physically, passing out behind their cutting boards and buckling under the pressures of being overtaxed and underappreciated. Aaron, a 48-year-old retirement cook, left the show after being hospitalized for repeatedly passing out and bursting into tears mid-food preparation.

Still, the remaining chefs strive for Ramsay’s rare praise, hoping he’ll throw them a pseudo-compliment (i.e. “This food isn’t entirely terrible”). They brush their tears away and continue to overcook their steaks, but – surprise! – Ramsay continues to berate them.

Is incompetence an excuse for verbal abuse? Or does the fact that these men and women auditioned to be on this show simply grant Ramsay the go-ahead to degrade them at such a horrifying level? I’m inclined to answer “no” across the board.

As Baz Luhrman once said, “Forget the insults you have received. Remember the compliments. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.”

It’s a lot easier to forget the insults when you don’t subject yourself to them in the first place, but it disgusts me that Fox is profiting off this man’s abuse.

Shame on you, Gordon Ramsay. I’m done with “Hell’s Kitchen.”

Kate Bigam is a senior magazine major and forum editor for theSummer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].