Reading the lengthy but captivating NYT profile of Rachael Ray on the train today, I was reminded of an impression I've gotten from what little I've seen of her Food Network shows. Simply put: I get the sense that when she is actually doing the cooking, her more masculine side comes out - her voice deepens, she starts using her slangy, made-up words, and she swings around the kitchen like it's a sport, which is Food Network's specialty and key to its appeal among many men. But when she's out tasting other people's food - on the show "$40 a Day," say - her voice rises in pitch, she coos and giggles over the fun things she's eating, and she generally acts more stereotypically feminine. So she pulls out different sides of her personality to match whatever she's doing, which is probably why the network loves her so much and is giving her a fourth show. Look for more gender/sexuality under- and overtones in the article.
On the same topic, Frederick Kaufman spoke to OnTheMedia earlier this month about his Harper's mag article that explores the exploitation of "involuntary excitement" in media today as well as the Food Network's use of "automatic nervous response, as opposed to a more thoughtful process," more specifically. [Warning: text includes intellectually charged adult language, straight from public radio.]