Recently, while out on manoeuvres, I had a close escape. Settling down to watch The Post (sentimental tripe) at my local cinehouse I was subjected to not one, but two McDonald’s adverts. Clearly my enemies had found me and taken great delight into showing two adverts about the popular burger chain’s Type II Edible Matter Products.
The first I have talked about before – the McDonald’s McCafe advert – but there is a new iteration. This time, rather than poking fun at coffee houses themselves it’s those pesky young people with beards and knowledge who are getting it in the neck.
As I have said before I’m ambivalent about coffee snobbery. On the one hand the achingly wanky hipster coffee houses of the world are an expensive and pretentious indulgence. But I’ve been in very few coffee houses that fit this bill. Most are cheerful, independent and employ local people and local ingredients.
I’ve been into McDonald’s ‘restaurants’ a couple of dozen times in my life, usually under protest and in a larger group,and I have never found them to be cheerful. Independent? Nope. Local ingredients? Nope. They might employ some local people – but let’s not forget that economies of scale in business lead to fewer jobs than in comparable independent businesses. This is a statistical fact.
What I hate about this advert is how thoroughly, aggressively anti-knowledge it is. It sneers at knowledge, passion and skill – and by virtue of this it sneers at independent business, individuality – even thinking. “Get in line,” says the McDonald’s McCafe advert “and drink your cheap, shitty coffee lest people in the quirky cafe next door laugh at you.”
It’s the perfect metaphor for Brexit, where fear of ridicule, fear of change and fear of the Other overrides everything. Look at the bloke in the image above, terrified because the coffee guy is sitting down next to him and explaining coffee. Imagine living your life like the protagonists in this advert – forever afraid. And probably a bit racist. A disturbing vision for a resolutely Stupid, Fearful Britain riddled with terrible coffee.
Next, it’s the anniversary of the Big Mac. It’s 50 years old, which is probably the average life expectancy of someone who eats this rubbish regularly, their arteries probably harder than Chuck Norris.
I wouldn’t eat a Big Mac if you paid me. I once ate a chicken McBurger after a drunken night out and the memory of the taste of sugar – in the bun, in the mayonnaise, in the coating – still makes me retch. Year later on a very early-morning work trip I ventured into one with some colleagues and rationalised that they could hardly fuck up a breakfast wrap.
Wrong. My overriding memory of this was a wrap and a frisbee of egg that tasted of, yes, sugar. No wonder people get all aggressive when you question their McDonald’s habits – Maccies has got them physically addicted to the gak they pump into their food.
So I’m not moved to celebrate the invention of a burger that has probably sent thousands to an appointment with a specialist diabetes nurse. Not convinced? Here’s an illuminating post about what eating ONE Big Mac does to your body and the potential consequences, which include the following phrases:
“raises your blood sugar to abnormal levels…”
“contributes to the likelihood of compulsive eating”
“These ingredients are also harmful and can cause obesity, diabetes and heart disease…”
“This huge amount of salt can result in dehydration…”
“This causes high blood pressure and can ultimately lead to heart disease and stroke…”
“you have lost control of your blood sugar, making you crave even more fast food…”
“The high-fructose corn syrup in the Big Mac bun…[causes] insulin spikes and even greater hunger pangs…”
“The burger’s ingredients can cause serious harm to your body, especially when you consume them on a regular basis…”
“Azodicarbonamide… is also carcinogenic…”
“…increases your chances of becoming overweight by 40%…”
Again, what’s so obnoxious about the actual advert is the contempt directed at people who don’t choose to eat this processed shit, as if you have to be some sort of weird elite to not eat crap. The response to the man who has never had a Big Mac? More contempt. I’ve never had a Big Mac either and there are few things of which I’m more proud.
The first time I went into a McDonald’s – about 1988 – I threw the food down in disgust, much to the amusement of my classmates. One of them shouted acrosss to a nearby Maccies worker – in a situation not unlike the one portrayed in this advert – and said: “Our mate says your food is horrible!”
The employee looked from me to my mate, watched him scarfing down his Big Mac and pointed at me.
“He right,” he said in broken English.
Then he pointed at my mate, wiping away grease and cow parts from his face.
And off he went, sweeping the floor.
It’s literally 30 years ago and I still often think of that chap – like something from a Hollywood film that makes the protagonist recognise some universal wisdom – and wonder where he is now. Not working in a Maccies, I hope.
What’s always noticeable about these McDonald’s adverts is the cast of people they include – like a pick’n’mix of regional working-class types. Look carefully, you’ll usually find a workman’s helmet in there somewhere. And families, oh the families. Because what sort of parent are you if you don’t given in to your kids and feed them food you know is astonishingly bad for them?
Rarely do you see anyone in a McDonald’s advert who is dining alone. Imagine what sort of sad bastard would be eating a Big Mac on his own, eh?
Because there is something almost unbearably sad about someone going to a McDonald’s on their own and eating a Big Mac on their own – perhaps a single candle sticking out of a Big Mac bun on the occasion of their own 50th birthday, riddled with gout, gasping for breath and reaching for a vial of insulin.
Yes, happy birthday Big Mac and thanks for everything you’ve done for us.