Even Reason magazine has jumped into the Ronald McDonald–must-vanish-for-the-health-of-kids-everywhere fray. But if they have anything to do with it, Ronnie will continue his fry-peddling antics unfettered. After all, he’s just giving people the food they love! But clearly the editors at Reason have never seen him love cheeseburgers just a little too much. What do we mean by that?
The screed derides “nanny state busybodies” who are too focused on blaming hapless mascots for our country’s profusion of pint-size butterballs than actually dealing with the problem itself. To that end, it’s holier-than-thou food police officers like Mark Bittman (he is to “sanctimony what Saudi Arabia is to oil”) who deserve to be carted off to Leisure Village. (Alternative-healing “huckster” Andrew Weil, also part of the retire-Ronnie movement, should also wobble toward a lounge chair.)
Equally culpable are parents who actually have the capacity to say no when their tots demand Happy Meals, but don’t. After all, malleable kids rarely visit McDonald’s unattended, right?
But wait: These parents were raised on commercials like this rather grainy one from 1984, in which Ronnie and pals showcase a creepy compulsion to caress cheeseburgers … and touch flowers to make them turn into cheeseburgers. It’s hypnotic and disturbing. And really makes us want to rush toward the nearest drive-through.
The food moralists like Bittman imagine that “McDonald’s marketing magic renders its targets helpless to resist.” After watching that ad, we think Reason gives the human race far too much credit when it comes to self-discipline. We actually need to side with the moralists here.