Friday, May 15, 2009

Flashback Friday: McCynical

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.

McCynical

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.

18 comments:

TentCamper said...

Don't mess with my Ronald McDelight!!! I hate to say it but I love McD's. Though you are very right about thinking and learning...and companies that just don't give a damn. Kids do need to learn to think before they act...and trust me...it is a tough job!!

VENUS vs. MARS said...

I don't get why they would send in the clown anyway. If they are toddlers, they are going to be scared to death of him. If they are toddlers, they aren't going to probably eat the food either. (Despite the claims my son at 3 threw up his mcnugget because he was that disgusted by it.)

I really wish we had never ever gone near a Mcdonalds. We actually never had till we moved to Germany. McD's made us feel like a bit of home had come back to us and well, you can find us there twice a month now.

Blogging Mama Andrea as Venus

Daddy Geek Boy said...

I do love McDonalds. Not too much better than a McGriddle in the morning.

Andrea...I'm not sure why they sent in ol' Ronald, other than it was probably a free or cheap way to entertain the kids.

Twice a month isn't bad for fast food if it reminds you of home. Growing up, I was served fast food 2-3 times a week.

Andromeda said...

i'm one of those parents who would have said something about RmcD coming to my kid's school. i don't see the relevancy of ronald to an education or to daycare even. and no we do not take the kid to Mcd's. he is ONLY allowed to have it when my dad takes him for a haircut every 2 months or so. it's their "thing" and i'm ok with that. everything in moderation.

i'm all about setting reasonable limits and giving honest answers why. in this case "McD's is not very healthy for you and we prefer to eat food that is better for the body." (and if we eat that now, i will feel really bad about the ice cream we are going to scarf down later. ok, so i leave that part off.) now D tells people who eat McD's that they better not because it's BAD for you! which is kind of cute, but we are now working on letting other people make their own decisions.

Jill said...

Did you ever see Supersize Me? Besides all the vomiting, the thing that struck me most was when they quizzed some kids with pictures of historical figures and cartoon characters. None of them could identify George Washington, but every single one of them knew Ronald McDonald. And these weren't preschoolers.

Vancetastic said...

I think most of you get this, but I don't think DGB is saying that McDonald's per se is wrong here. McDonald's will do whatever McDonald's can do to get McDonald's's name out there even more than McDonald's's name is already out there. The point is, the day care center should not consider it an acceptable thing, even if only because it's "sponsoring" one particular kind of bad eatin' over another, though that's hardly the point.

From the title, I thought this was going to have a Grey's Anatomy tie-in. Funny how Grey's has co-opted the use of the "Mc" prefix so much that I think of it before I think of McDonald's. (For the record, I don't watch the show, but the damn thing has seeped into my zeitgeist).

dadshouse said...

I'm with you on this one. Having Ronald McDonald visit daycare is like inviting the local pimp to Dad's Night Out.

Sort of.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Andromeda...I like Neal Pollack's approach, which is to tell your kids that the golden arches = poison. So far the Bean's not buying it.

Jill...This will tell you about my relationship to junk food: I did see Supersize Me. It made me want a burger real bad.

Vance...Come on man, have we EVER talked about Grey's Anatomy? I though you'd know me better than that.

Dadshouse...Now THAT I'd like to see.

Vancetastic said...

I know you don't watch Grey's Anatomy, but I also know that you are up on the zeitgeist, and it's possible your post could have had something to do with Grey's in the form of social commentary. In any case, the whole point was that I can't believe how successful Grey's was at co-opting "Mc."

SweetPeaSurry said...

That was a fantastic blog, and I would highly recommend it be read by any new parent. I think many people are so tired just from having the newborn they hardly think so far into the future as to have an opinion on advertisments, especially walking ones. Well written and best of luck! Sounds like you're raising one helluva kid!

ZenMom said...

I have a great big McCrush on your brain. But don't worry, WonderWife - it's a strictly platonic Brain-Crush. :)

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Vance...I'm surprised McDonalds hasn't asked for royalties from the show.

SweatPea...Thank you! I think it's amazing how I started looking at the world in very different ways after becoming a parent. We don't realize that kids soak in everything. I'm still kind of amazed that there are parents out there that still don't.

ZenMom...Aw. Now you've gone and made my brain blush.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Um...that should have read "SweetPea". Unfortunate typo.

wendy said...

Well said Daddy Geek ---love that title for yourself. Food chains have taken over the world.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Every birthday party I had until I was 7 was at McDonalds. So I get ya when you say you'd rather them not fall in love with that kind of food.

We control it pretty well around our house... but they also live with Grandma and Grandpa... who happen to be the same ones that thew my birthday parties at McDonalds...

And Curse Clowns and Stephen King.

And...

never mind I'm done.

Youngblood4ever said...

Hey man, it doesn't get any better as they get older. I have 2 that have gone through Kindergarten already and one way that our school has taught the kids to "read" is to look at common signs. McDonalds, Wendy's. Wal-Mart, Target, and such are all on the list and it drives me NUTS! Are they teaching my kids crap or CRAP!?!?

RHW said...

So on the same wavelength with you here.

We're not big fast food eaters in general, and after reading Fast Food Nation even less so. The book's author really shows the ins and outs of the fast food industry and McDonald's particularly. It definitely makes you more appreciative and favourable to mom and pop burger shops.

Geekling may rarely end up eating fast food if we're on the road and desperate. The only place hereabouts we sometimes (once every couple of months) go to is Harvey's , a Canadian fast food chain with tasty veggie burgers.

Like Venus vs Mars, we did succumb to Mickey Dee's while traveling abroad though :P

SciFi Dad said...

We struggle with the same thing. Unfortunately for us, our monthly road trips home introduced our daughter to McD's and now she knows it all too well.

Like you, I'm a junk-food addict, and like you, cholesterol and heart disease and what not run in my family, and like you I don't want that for my kids.