Once upon a time, I had a MySpace account. It was the mid-aughts and it was the cool thing to do. Back then, I was known as Movie Geek Boy and I started blogging. My writing was pretty rudimentary, but every once in a while I managed to post something I liked.
Although things are calming down somewhat, I'm still busier than a one armed paper hanger (to quote my dad). So here's an old post I'm sure very few of you have seen. I'm calling this feature "Flashback Friday" because I like alliteration.
This was originally written on June 23, 2006. The Bean was 7 months old.
On the way back to my car after dropping the Bean off at day care, I noticed a big truck with Ronald McDonald painted on the side in the parking lot. A mother, who was walking out at the same time, turned to me and said, "Ronald McDonald is visiting today. I wish I had that as a kid."
I turned to her and said, "I just don't want my kid coming home demanding burgers and fries."
She gave me a blank look that told me she had no idea what I meant and we both got in our cars and drove away.
There's a lot about this that bothers me. First off, I don't like the idea of a giant commercial for McDonalds driving up to the place that I am trusting and paying for to care for my son under the guise of entertainment. I'm doing my best to make sure that the Bean isn't going to be some junk food addicted maniac like me. I want him to learn to eat well because high cholesterol and heart disease run in my family and I don't want him to struggle the way that I do every day! But those damn McDonalds people are going to fight me every step of the way, aren't they?
The other thing that bothers me is the mother, who is emblematic of a lot of people in this world that just don't put the pieces together or don't care to. Sure, Ronald McDonald is a funny looking clown that kids like. But he's a corporate shill for a company that is only concerned with making money and not with the well being of its customers. In fact, most companies that we put our trust in are just in it for the money. And as a new parent, who are probably the easiest target for stuff like this, it's pretty obvious to me that for the most part we're all being sucked in.
This may sound very cynical, but I think that cynicism can be a good thing. It's important to question the world around us and not take everything at face value. Every day we are overrun by thousands of images, telling us what to do, who to like and what to buy. As a society, let's take a collective step back and try to see beyond the hype for a minute. Ronald McDonald visiting toddlers in day care is a bad thing. It's just as bad as Joe Camel. But nobody at the Bean's day care seemed bothered by this. And that makes me upset.
Now I know that I've gone on record about my love for new products, etc. And I'm fully aware that what I'm writing here may seem contradictory. But I do these things knowingly and willingly allowing myself to buy into them. But the Bean doesn't have a choice. He needs me to help him figure out the world. It's important that I teach him to be a considerate and thoughtful person. I need to explain to him not to stop in the middle of a very busy walkway to have a conversation. I need to teach him to use his blinker when he is driving a car. Never talk on a cell phone in a movie theater. I want him to know that he should RSVP to invitations and send thank you notes when he gets gifts. And most importantly, I want him to question the world and inspire him to think for himself.
I have a big job ahead of me. And I don't intend on letting some corporate clown get in my way.