Everyone Stop Everything. What Is This Creepy "Celebrity Meat" Site?

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Feb. 26 2014 4:48 PM

Everyone Stop Everything. What Is This?

meat
What is happening here?

Photo by Bite Labs.

A lot of weird stuff shows up on the Internet, but Bite Labs is really, really weird. The site claims to be collecting tissue samples from celebrities, isolating the muscle stem cells, growing celebrity meat in "proprietary bioreactors," and then turning it into artisanal salami. Wut?

Lily Hay Newman Lily Hay Newman

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

From the BiteLabs' website:

We mix celebrity and animal meats, grown in house through a proprietary culturing process, into curated salami blends. Our process yields high-quality, luxury protein, in a sustainable manner that eliminates the environmental and ethical concerns associated with traditional livestock production.
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Yup. No obvious ethical concerns here. Nothin' to see. This must be a hoax, right? Or a marketing campaign that wants to go viral (in which case we're helping). So far the BiteLabs Tumblr isn't revealing much. Neither is #EatCelebrityMeat.

Some people are suggesting that it parodies the look and exuberance of startups.

Others are pointing to the viral marketer ThunderClap for some reason. And note that ThunderClap actually favorited one of these tweets.

Or it could just be the North Korean government's plan to resolve food shortages while proving to the world that the oligarchy can compete in the competitive startup world. Whatever it is, the whole concept has kind of tarnished salami forever, which is a damn shame.

stem_1
The stuff of nightmares.

Photo by Bite Labs.

Update, Feb. 26, 6:20 p.m.: According to "Kevin" from the BiteLabs team the site is partly a commentary on food culture, the ethics of meat, and "the way celebrity culture is consumed." But the part about making celebrity meat is real. He writes:

To develop Celebrity Meat, we're working with a group of bio-engineers and food designers, most of which have requested to remain anonymous due to the controversial nature of the product ... 

At the moment, I believe Jennifer Lawrence and James Franco are pretty neck and neck in terms of who has been tweeted at the most.  We've gotten some responses from people offering us biopsies, but no one on the level of our big 4 yet.  Most of the responses have been very positive, but of course some people are a bit uncomfortable with idea of BiteLabs--we think that's only to be expected when we talk about pushing the boundaries of tech and society.

The group is using ThunderClap for marketing, which means that when they generate enough buzz, ThunderClap will do a timed Facebook and Twitter blast to "create a wave of attention."

Kevin told Motherboard that, "The product is indeed salami," and that each one will have about 30 percent celebrity meat and 40 percent lab-grown animal meats along with fat and spices. This is getting intense. More updates as we get them.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

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