Food: Breaking the Status Quo
by Jalen Heyward
Released in 2003, Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-off is a Disney Channel original movie about a young boy, Eddie Ogden, who struggles to balance his passions for both baseball and cooking. This film is one of many that tries to break stereotypes of gender roles through society, and does an excellent job by relating it to cooking. In the end ironically, food ,which was originally the conflict of the movie, brings Eddie, his father, and his friends closer together embracing and supporting Eddie’s passion for cooking, and breaking the status quo.
Eddie is a teenager at Cedar Valley High School and is the star player for the Groundhogs, coached by his father. Eddie’s father wants him to obtain a scholarship for his baseball skill, however Eddie, along with playing baseball, also enjoys watching The Food Network and cooking food for his friends; especially his signature Eddie Dog. He loves cooking so much that instead of registering for the computer science elective his brothers recommended he enroll in, he goes behind their backs and registers for home economics. Through that home economics class he is eligible to enter a cooking competition and ultimately put his passion to the test. Eddie has to create an original recipe and submit it in secrecy leading to many comedic scenes like Figure 1. This movie had many scenes that gradually suspended the culinary social norm that only women are supposed to cook.
Generally speaking, it is expected for women to be the caretakers and men to be the providers in Western society. This expectation can be traced back to the hunter-gatherer communities that existed in prehistoric times. Usually men were the ones who traveled and hunted animals, while the women would stay back and harvest crops, and take care of the youth. This way of life has trickled down and influenced modern day stereotypes about cooking. This film does a great job of showing the gender role theme and the taboo of men cooking in today’s society, because Eddie has to hide his passion for cooking from his father. Eddie’s friends and his father consider cooking a “girl’s hobby” and say that Eddie needs to focus on baseball. For example, in one scene, Eddie was coming back from his baseball practice. His mother comes back home with groceries and ends up buying too many. She tells Eddie to put up the extra groceries; however, instead of obeying his mother, he prepares a chicken dinner. When his family comes back they are astonished at how amazing the dinner looks and tastes. The cinematography has a variety of close-ups and medium-shots of the characters’ facial expressions and how they fight for the last pieces of chicken. Instead of appreciating and thanking Eddie for the meal that he prepares, his father and brothers insult him and give him backhanded complements. His brothers say things like “Eddie is the sister we never had” and nicknames him “Eddie Crocker.” These comments go along with the status quo and suggests that only women are supposed to cook.
The climax of the movie is what breaks the status quo regarding men and cooking. Eddie’s championship game and the day of the cook-off are on the same day at the same time. Eddie chooses to play in the game due to outside influence from his friends and father. During the game, Eddie’s teammates watch the cook-off in the dugout. They realize that Eddie is sacrificing his passion for cooking just for their happiness. The simultaneous contests allow his friends to measure his passion and realize that cooking is not just a girls activity.. His friends tell Eddie that he can leave the game and participate in the cook-off and he accepts the offer. They say that they are proud of him no matter what. Eddie’s father eventually follows him to the cook-off to tell him that he is proud of him and offers to help. Eddie and his father bond over cooking at the end of the film as Eddie sees his father properly dice onions and crack an egg. His father showed culinary expertise breaking the stereotype that only women can and should cook. Even though Eddie loses the competition, he pursues something he loves and his family and friends are proud and respect it. Eddie’s passion for food and cooking brings his friends and father closer together and teaches them to be less driven by stereotypes and gradually break the status quo.