Cooking Class: Ideology, Identity and the Commodification of New Zealand in Annabel Langbein – The Free Range Cook
In the past decade reality TV genres, notably lifestyle television and makeover texts have been the focus of considerable academic analysis through a variety of theoretical constructs. On initial viewing, the Freemantle Media series Annabel Langbein – The Free Range Cook adheres to the conventions of a family-orientated cooking/lifestyle program. However this text, like other contemporary examples, accommodates a number of readings. Alongside the now well-versed argument that lifestyle texts function as governance, operating in conjunction with a range of policy and institutional mechanisms in a neoliberal environment in the development of disciplined and self-regulating subjects, the Free Range Cook is equally informed by the phenomenon of nation branding and the quest for authenticity in the simultaneously localized and globalized mediated world. Furthermore I argue that Annabel Langbein – The Free Range Cook is underpinned by neoliberalism as ideology. Here the text, overtly constructed as ‘lifestyle’, represents an idealized aspirational environment where the constant markers of domestic and national familiarity serve as duplicitous features in a touchable but unattainable world.
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