Recently, the League of Melbotis made some statements on the subject of eating at McDonalds. He mentioned the fear and trembling that comes from eating their food, and the vague sense of guilt that comes upon completion of your McMeal.
He rightly identifies the thing which is most annoying about McDonald’s these days, their advertising. The League’s complaints are my complaints as well, but I have another angle to ply: the portrayed infantilism of the black male.
In the episode of racial stereotypes by McDonalds we see 3 young African-American guys at a host’s apartment preparing to watch a lively game of basketball.
Now, here’s the first thing, the above paragraph is what most black people I’ve ever met would say. In the McFilter, everyone speaks McBonics. Let me rephrase the preceding paragraph so that it matches the McFilter.
Yo, on this spot, three homies are comin' back to fool’s crib to peep the game and get they lunch on.
Ludicrous that I write in such a style? Exactly. Who is McDonald’s kidding? In one of the ad spots one of the voices uses “fool” in exactly the same sense which I just did. Say what? No one talks like that and McDonald’s' attempt to play to the “urban” demographic comes off as pandering, exploitative, patronization.
OK, so the dialog is bad.
The host in the ad is putting away a duvet cover. His homies start clownin' His friend start giving him a hard time - what? Why? Maybe his friends are pigs and like having sheets so filthy they can stand on their own, but in the world where men get dates with good-looking, sensible women and know how to take care of themselves, duvet covers get bought and laundry gets washed?
What is this ad trying to say? Black males are only concerned with greasy burgers and basketball games? A guy that keeps his place nice is to be mocked? A guy that knows something about having a nice home is suspect of … something vaguely love-that-dare-not-speak-its-name?
And what about the mockers? Is moms back home taking care of this for them? Their ho? The latter is certainly unlikely given that they’re lovin' the McD.
As hinted above, this ad has a latent streak of anti-meterosexuality or anti-homosexuality. McDonald’s is pandering (again) to the time-bomb of “urban” fear of non-ur-heterosexuality. This over-macho-ization is what leads to a local dialog that praises degrading women (hoes), celebrating base sexual gratification and power (being a pimp), exploring short-term temporal gratification and encourages a culture of infantilism where being a man is less important than being a “thug” - a tribal strongman in his urban castle.
The fundamental semiotic content feels to me: “Young black men, eat here, you basketball-playing, gay-fearing, bitch-controlling, he-men.”
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against hanging with your friends and (ugh) having a McMeal, but when it’s so forced, overwrought, and celebratory of low horizons, how can I have any reaction but to stay away?
Furthermore, these ads are further alienating me as a white male. I feel less inclined to eat there than ever before seeing another human group so patronized. Has McDonalds given up on the white male demographic? The guy that took the kids to the Golden Arches? The “You Deserve a Break Today” white male?
…or is it more insidious, like advertising St. Ides only in urban blighted wards of Houston? The affluent and educated would never fall for this crap?
(If it is the case that their reasoning be so insidious, they should remember that the poorest parts of American society are white, so why portray only black men?)
In any case, I’ll be getting my burgers at Carl’s which has the good sense to put beautiful models in its ads, eating big juicy burgers.