I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but I came across an interview with the nine-year-old girl who parroted her mother’s opinions about McDonald’s at a shareholders meeting and was hailed by the media as a hero as a result. I think the interview proves the points I made in my last post.
Before we get to that, I’ll explain my opinion of what motivates the anti-McDonald’s activists. If you’ve seen Fat Head, you may remember the part where I said something like this:
“When I’ve discussed the merits of Super Size Me with my friends and associates, I noticed a curious pattern: almost everyone who really likes that movie shares a common and dearly-held belief …”
(on-screen graphic) POOR PEOPLE ARE STUPID!
Dr. Eric Oliver then appeared to say what struck him about Super Size Me was the underlying attitude that the poor can’t be trusted to make decisions for themselves and need someone else to step in and protect them. The people who want other people “protected” from McDonald’s are snobs. (My label, not Dr. Oliver’s.)
As Jacob Sullum explained elsewhere in the film, not everyone has the same values. I’d rather be healthy than eat junk food. That’s my choice. But some people value pleasure over long-term health. They know sodas and french fries are junk food, but choose to consume them anyway. That’s their choice. It doesn’t seem to occur to the elitists that a person can knowingly eat junk food without being a victim.
Back when I worked at home and had more time to break my own rule about not arguing with idiots, I participated in a couple of online debates that went something like this:
Of course we should put limits on advertising by McDonald’s! They use slick advertising to sucker people into eating their lousy food.
I’m sorry McDonald’s suckered you into eating their food. I hope you recover soon.
I didn’t say I eat there. I never eat there.
So you’re just concerned about people who lack your superior intelligence and ability to resist slick advertising. Must be very flattering to view so many other people as your inferiors.
Well what about kids? They don’t know any better.
That’s why there are parents. Kids can’t eat at McDonald’s unless their parents take them to the restaurant and buy the food.
But kids see the ads and want the Happy Meals and badger their parents until the parents give in.
I’m sorry your kids badgered you into buying them Happy Meals.
I DON’T BUY HAPPY MEALS FOR MY KIDS. I know better.
I see. So you’re not really concerned about McDonald’s advertising to your kids. You’re concerned about them advertising to kids whose parents lack your superior intelligence and ability to resist being badgered.
I didn’t say that!
No, they don’t come out and say it, but that’s clearly what they mean. Which brings me to the interview with Hannah, the nine-year-old media hero. Let’s look at some quotes:
Q. Why did you bawl out McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson?
A. Because I wanted to speak for all those kids and parents who wanted to have that voice and talk to McDonald’s.
Q. Can you sum up what you told him?
A. I said it’s not fair that big companies try to trick kids into eating food that’s not good for them by giving them toys — and with cartoon characters.
Okay, so she felt the need to stand up for all the kids who are tricked into eating at McDonald’s. Surely she has bad memories of being tricked herself.
Q. How many times have you eaten at McDonald’s?
A. I don’t know. Maybe three or four times.
EXCUSE ME?!! If McDonald’s is so good at “tricking” kids into eating their Happy Meals, why has she only eaten there three or four times in her entire life? This isn’t a case of her mom taking her to McDonald’s for the hundredth time and then smacking herself in the head and saying, “Dangit! Those sneaky bastards tricked me again with their cartoon characters!” Nope, Mom doesn’t take little Hannah to McDonald’s. She’s a smart lady, you see – an activist and all that. But she’s very worried that the stupid people won’t be able to resist the cartoon-character ads.
Q. What’s your biggest problem with McDonald’s?
A. My biggest problem with McDonald’s is that they trick kids into eating their food by using toys and cartoon characters and sports icons.
Q. What if they stopped all that?
A. If they put more healthy food on their menu, I’d be OK with that. But when you think of the Golden Arches and McDonald’s, you think of Big Macs, fries and nuggets.
So Hannah and her mom would be “OK with that” if McDonald’s completely abandoned their business model and served the kinds of foods Hannah’s mom thinks other people should be eating. Apparently Hannah’s mom believes people are automatons who will just eat whatever McDonald’s serves. Riiiiight. I’m sure the McDonald’s executives wish it were that easy — especially those who were around for the McLean fiasco.
If McDonald’s decided to serve the foods Hannah’s mom wants other people to eat, here’s what would happen: their customers would start going to Burger King.
Q. What do you think McDonald’s should add to its menu?
A. Healthy things like kale chips and veggies on a stick and fruit on a stick.
Those must be your favorite foods, then – the kinds of foods you’d go out to a restaurant to buy.
Q. What’s your favorite meal?
A. Spaghetti, tomato sauce, garlic bread and Caesar salad.
What happened to kale chips and veggies on a stick?
Q. Where do you like to eat out?
A. Pizza places.
Pasta, bread and pizza … well, thank goodness you don’t eat at McDonald’s. Those burgers are bad for you.
Q. Who wrote your speech?
A. Me and my mom wrote it together at home on the computer. It took about a day to write.
“Here, Hannah. Mommy wrote a speech for you to give at the shareholders meeting.”
“Why am I am giving the speech, Mommy?”
“Because, Sweetheart, if you stand up and say Mommy’s words, the media will swoon and hail you as a brave little hero. If Mommy stands up and says Mommy’s words, they might think I’m just a busybody elitist.”
And that’s exactly what she is. Instead of insisting McDonald’s serve kale chips and veggie sticks, I’d suggest she open her own chain of restaurants and put those items on the menu. I’m sure she’d sell billions and billions.