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America Loves Watching Raw Meat Porn

This week, the internet is abuzz over videos of raw meat being contaminated by dirty sidewalks and bare cleavage. What is it about poor food safety that gets us all hot and bothered?

I'm watching a currently trending YouTube video right now, and thinking to myself, Doesn't it hurt to sit on a crab?

Relative to many other parts of the world, America tends to be particularly persnickety about its standards of food hygiene. That's not to say that we aren't still riddled with salmonella outbreaks and horror stories, but we generally prefer to refrigerate our eggs, sterilize our cutting boards, and buy our meat shrink-wrapped, perfectly pink, and bearing little resemblance to the animal from which it came.

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Maybe this is why the naughtiness of poor food safety tantalizes us more than it would others. Our insistence that our kitchen surfaces be Cloroxed to spotless whiteness may result in a type of repression—one that can only be fought with indifference towards E. coli and restaurant letter grades.

Are those who carelessly handle raw meat true American heroes who think that we need to loosen up, future Patient Zeros of Hot Dog Flu 2015, or unwitting pornographers?

One recent example, an exception to our culture of squeamishness, is in the form of a brief YouTube video, entitled "Meat Beat." As of press time, the video has received about 150,000 views.

In the video—which you should feel free to watch above rather than read my incoming description, written in a mixed state of confusion and intrigue—a lingerie-clad young woman pats, rubs, and slaps her cleavage, loins, and asscheeks (for lack of a better term) with a generous assortment of meats. There is an element of rhythm to the slapping, which is likely the "beat" being alluded to, and slightly burnt cocktail weiners being rubbed together for a shaker-like sound effect. She is squishing ground beef into her sternum, being spanked with a trout, and finally, in a moderately disturbing act that the video's subject seems to relish, sits on and crushes a whole (hopefully dead) crab. (The crab bit, though probably unknowingly, borders on crush fetishism.)

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Is "Meat Beat" erotic, political, or simply an act of good unclean fun? The comments, as to be expected with virtually anything on YouTube, range from disgusting ("For a while I swear I was about to nut when she slapped the fish against her butt") to concerned ("PETA is gonna go insane") to shruggy ("like the titties but meat is bad"). But the video's virality speaks to some element within us that enjoys the contamination of the body with raw meat, or perhaps of meat with the body.

This may be why another filthy meat video of a decidedly different persuasion is also getting a lot of attention this week. Watch below as a worker at Lucky River Restaurant in San Francisco is filmed repeatedly slamming slabs of frozen meat onto a dirty sidewalk in wayward attempts to tenderize or separate it.

The video has quickly accrued tens of thousands of views. Sure, it's supposed to be disturbing—the nerve of this guy, touching our innocent, sanctimonious beef slabs to the filthy, trodden-upon pavement! But then we watch again, and again—which we probably wouldn't do if the video was one of truly repulsive content that didn't tickle some other more mischievous part of our psyche.

The last time that raw meat was in such a spotlight in our culture was in 2010, when Lady Gaga donned a beefy dress at the MTV Video Music Awards in an attempted political statement about Don't Ask, Don't Tell that mostly just enraged vegans, left her fans befuddled, and kind of grossed out everyone else. There was a fair amount of chatter generated by her meat garment, but no one seemed to find it worthy of salivating over in any sense.

But given the direction of eyeballs this week, maybe we love watching raw meat be slammed on the sidewalk, or on a young woman's ass—and we don't even really know why. Raw meat strikes an interesting balance between flaccidity and danger. It is primal and risky, but also limp and benign.

This week's cultural proclivity for crab-crushing and beef-dirtying may very well signify that our grotesque dalliance of choice is no longer living-room twerking or children coming out of dental sedation, but raw meat-slapping.

Our palates, though whetted, might not be sure what for.