A Week in the Life of Gustavo

"Seems to think that if he fails to write, la migra will find him."--OC Weekly More merriment available at ronmaydon@yahoo.com

ter├ža-feira, fevereiro 17, 2004

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Excerpts fromRotten.com's entry on McDonald's...

Synonymous with mass-marketed crap, McDonald's is generally reviled as lowest common denominator fare. Greasy, salty foodstuffs concocted to satisfy your most unhealthy gastronomic cravings in the maximally-profitable manner. It is cheap, ubiquitous, and marketed to the working class. All of which makes it the perfect target for budding culture snobs.

As such, people commonly bitch that McDonald's is selling "junk food" -- substandard fare, marginally suitable for human consumption -- as if its customers are somehow hypnotized into buying food that doesn't really appeal to them. Which is bullshit. McDonald's delivers a consistent, if somewhat bland, product that competes quite well in the marketplace. If people didn't want Big Macs and french fries, they wouldn't buy them.

Most people who hate McDonald's are really just anti-establishment wannabes. Maybe they were raised by hippie parents, maybe they listened to a lot of punk rock in high school, or maybe they're pretentious jerks. Whatever the issue, these people feel compelled to reject the modern-day corporatocracy, but deep down they know there's no way they could live a whole month without Starbucks or Comedy Central. Rather than admit to themselves their complete and utter dependence upon the evil capitalist system, they draw the line somewhere arbitrary, so they can make a meaningless stand:

FAMISHED: Where you wanna eat?
IDEALIST: Anywhere except McDonald's. They're just -- the food, y'know? Yuck. And the rainforest...
FAMISHED: Burger King, then?
IDEALIST: Sure, whatever.

Feel free to slam McDonald's, but you should resist the urge to blindly rail against their product offerings. Especially when there are plenty of good reasons to oppose the multinational corporation behind them.

First of all, the company can't be trusted to keep its own story straight. Consider the lionization of Ray Kroc. Kroc's business card bore just his name, the golden arches, and the word "Founder." Except that Richard and Maurice McDonald were the actual founders. By the time Ray Kroc entered the picture, the McDonald brothers had already opened eight restaurants. Kroc joined on as their franchise agent. (Ever wonder why it isn't called Kroc's?) But he bought them out six years later for $2.7 million and went on to minimize their role in the official company history.

"Sometimes after reading excerpts from an article on McDonald's, I began to wonder if the McDonald brothers ever had anything to do with the success of McDonald's," observed Richard McDonald. "During the years from the time we first met Ray Kroc in 1954 and hired him in 1955 to be our franchise agent, there was never any mention over the years that Ray was founder of McDonald's. However, after we sold to Ray and his associates, he was elevated to be the founder."

As far as megalomaniacal Ray Kroc was concerned, there was one problem with the buyout arrangement: it allowed the McDonald brothers to maintain ownership of the original McDonald's restaurant in San Bernardino, California at 14th and E Street. So what did Ray Kroc do? First he forced them to change the name of their restaurant (which became "The Big M"). Then he opened a McDonald's franchise as quickly as possible just one block away at 15th and E, purposely driving the McDonald brothers out of business. This event illustrates not only Ray's overweening vanity, but also his single-minded philosophy about competing in the fast food industry:

"It is ridiculous to call this an industry. This is not. This is rat eat rat, dog eat dog. I'll kill 'em, and I'm going to kill 'em before they kill me. You're talking about the American way -- of survival of the fittest."

And some quotes!

"We have found out... that we cannot trust some people who are nonconformists... We will make conformists out of them... The organization cannot trust the individual; the individual must trust the organization."
--Ray Kroc

"Everything went downhill from the moment the McDonald's chain was allowed to invade England."

"I am in complete solidarity with France's farm-workers, and I detest McDonald's food."
--Jacques Chirac

"The Israeli people are infected with Americanization. We must not be concerned for culture only as culture, but understand what Israeli culture is, and Israeli religion. We must be wary of McDonald's; we must be wary of Michael Jackson; we must be wary of Madonna."
--Israeli President Ezer Weizman, summer 1999

"You people are destroying the rainforests of the world by grazing your cheap cattle. You are cutting down trees to graze your cheap cattle to sell your hamburgers."
--Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh