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Getting Meta With Scorpions on Sticks

Random Irish man eats silkworms for American blogger.

Foreign media doing scorpions-on-sticks pieces is just about the lamest form of journalism imaginable. It's hackneyed, cliched, predictable and useless. It relies entirely on the gross-out factor, and is basically Fear Factor on location. It creates an image of life in Beijing that is demonstrably fake, no different than if every visiting journalist in the U.S. sent home pieces on American food, based entirely on FedEx Field concessions or the Texas State Fair. And, on top of all that, it's just lazy.

So here's my version.

Ha! No, seriously, the wonderful Beijing Boyce blog has been chronicling the visiting media's obsessions with scorpions on sticks, and it's a fair complaint. (Thanks to the Rocky Mountain News Summer Olympics Blog for pointing me to that post.) I was intending never to visit this Wangfujing Night Market, just to avoid falling into the I've-read-this-all-before trap that is scorpions-on-sticks coverage. I didn't want to join the pack.

But I wound up there today in pursuit of something else, and dang if I didn't start asking random foreigners to eat random gross things on sticks while narrating their thoughts on video. It's just irresistible. No media member with an actual pulse could get within 100 yards of cooked scorpions on sticks and not break out his media devices, especially when chunks of snake and sticks of sheep penis are also available.

I mean, call it a cliche, call it lazy, call it stale. Call it the sloppiest form of copycat coverage, if you must, but I'm taking that picture anyhow. (I actually bought the scorpions for the guy above. Fifty Yuan. That's the most I've ever paid for scorpions.)

Also, it smelled pretty sour in the market. Also also, plenty of Chinese people gathered around the foreigners eating bugs and made "holy cow that's nasty" faces at the wacky foreigners. Also, I tried to wash the smell of silkworm out of my life by drinking a Corona. It didn't work, but the lack of open container laws is a special thing.

Random American man eats bugs for American blogger.

Random German man eats starfish for American blogger.

Uneaten sheep penis.

And the classic: Uneaten scorpions on sticks.

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 15, 2008; 2:11 PM ET
Categories:  Beer and Cheese , Olympics  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: A Night of Travel in Beijing
Next: Olympic Athletes Bartering for Knock-Off Clothes


Indiana Jones is highly disturbed by these images.

Posted by: | August 15, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

A lot of the pictures are messed up today.

Posted by: sitruc | August 16, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

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