Friday, February 03, 2006

McDonald's, You've Done It Again

McDonald's, always the beacon of inspiration in the oily sea that is the fast food industry, has once again set the limbo bar in the category of "Things Done to Make Us Seem More Benign." Less than two months after I read in the newspaper than McDonald's would begin displaying nutrition information on it products in some countries, I happened to be walking past a McDonald's in Ikebukuro when I saw an eye-catching piece of trash on the ground: The paper liner from a McDonald's tray, decorated with the words "Let's Exercise!"

I double-backed for the restaurant's entrance, went inside and asked the cashier for a tray liner so that I could take it home and study it extensively.

As consumers we have long been misled to an imaginary connection between McDonald's food, in all its partially hydrogenated, high-fructose glory, and Ronald, a weird clown who is way too thin to have a lifestyle that includes McDonald's in any substancial capacity. Now that rift between product and mascot is widened by the notion that Ronald is the kind of clown who would lead a workout session. But closer inspection of the tray liner reveals the whole thing to be a thinly veiled attempt by McDonald's to escape responibility by separating itself from its increasingly obese clientele.

Ronald McDonald (or, as he's called in Japan, Donald McDonald) is shown leading a series of "exercises." And when I say "exercises," of course I mean "idiotic poses that do not resemble exercise in the slightest."

First of all, we are instructed to "go active." We live in an age where companies go global, women go blonde and fast food clowns go active. Failure to go active before exercising can result in total meltdown of your bodily funtions. My main source of distress is that Ronald does not give us any indication as to what constitutes going active. Do I just put one hand in the air like that? Because if that's all it takes, the Nazis must have been quite the active bunch.

This picture's caption reads, "With one hand in front, HAAAA!" This sentence contains a meaning so profound, so powerful, so explosive...they just couldn't risk putting a verb in it. This is the future of language, people. No more verbs. I wanted to try out this new mode of communication for myself, so I called my credit card company this morning and said, "With my monthly statement, ZOOOOM!" I don't know why it took them so long to figure out that I was requesting a change of billing address.

Next, we have one that roughly translates as "Look, far away!" I appreciate an attempt to be thorough, but...optical exercises? Does McDonald's food make your eyes obese, too? It gives horrifying new meaning to the phrase, "My eyes were bigger than my stomach."

Before we continue, I just want to make sure you're all following along and doing these "exercises" at home as you read this. If you don't, McDonald's will disavow any knowledge of your fatness.

Now Ronald/Donald tells us, "Oide, oide!" which means, "C'mon, c'mon!" I'm assuming that Ronald caught a glimpse of the Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch video for "Good Vibrations" and immediately associated Mark Wahlberg's underwear-endorsing physique with the repetition of motivational phrases like "c'mon, c'mon" and "feel it, feel it!" I, for one, can tell you that I walked around saying "feel it, feel it" for months before I realized my abs weren't getting any firmer as a result.

Finally Ronald announces, "See you at the homepage!" Forget everything you've ever heard about the importance of a "cool-down." Ronald commands you to stop exercising and get yourself in front of the computer immediately! Why are you still exercising? You have twenty seconds to comply!

Now log onto the McDonald's homepage, where you can...uh...well, I don't know what you can do there. I've always thought fast food company homepages were lame and boring and pointless, and I've never logged onto any fast food company's homepage for exactly that reason.

Before I close the curtain on this kabuki of shame, I want to draw your attention to the box at the bottom of the Let's Exercise tray liner:

The title bar reads, "What kind of exercise will you try?" And then it gives you three choices: Kids' exercise, chair exercise and hip-hop exercise. If none of those three choices appeal to your now insatiable hunger for physical activity, tough milkshake. You will select from the Ronald-approved list of three. Sucks to be you. I'm lovin' it.

1 comment:

Rick said...

Why is Ronald McDonald dressed like The Bride in Kill Bill vol. 1? I must say I really like it.