Tuesday, March 10, 2009

McDonald's: Capitalism as It Is Really Lived


I saw a McDonald’s ad with a rapping fish that I think may be the only funny McDonald’s ad I’ve seen in four decades of being propagandized — and well fed — by that company.  I’m not saying it was great, I’m just saying it’s the first one that came even close, unless I’m forgetting something.  Burger King, clearly, is proving that competition works, its recent strange ads undoubtedly pushing McDonald’s in this direction.

Now if only all corporations would just devote a tenth of the effort to public relations in favor of capitalism and science in general as they do to pushing their own market share.  But we knew there’d be systemic problems when we signed up for a society based on self-interest, and there’s only so much you can expect each company to do.

My comments above about comedy and advertising are of course in no way meant to disparage Mac, the disturbing crescent-moon-headed creature on the flying piano that sang a variation on “Mack the Knife” in an unusually surreal circa-1980s series of McDonald’s ads.  Mac was a lot like that crescent-moon-headed creature in Clive Barker’s movie Nightbreed about mutants living underground in Canada (or something like that).  Mac was impressive and disturbing, and it’s high time they brought him back — he wasn’t funny, though.

I wonder who’d win a fight between him and Grimace.  Actually, when you think about it, Hamburglar could easily be a character from a Brecht play and might thus seem at home participating in a performance of “Mack the Knife.”  (And those fries-craving “Gobblins” who at some point became merely “the Fry Guys” — perhaps under demon-fearing pressure from Christian groups? — are a little disturbing, too.  There are so many acts of thievery and deception in the plotlines of food ads for some reason, especially for breakfast cereals, which often inspire children and animals to join forces and rob the elderly, etc.)

More disturbing than any of this is the fact that Clive Barker has also written children’s books, which is a bit like letting kids play in an S&M dungeon, and I said as much in a review of one his children’s books that I wrote for People back in the day, but, alas, they decided not to run it.

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