Monday, April 5, 2010

The Devil Don't Change

A gym I like to go to has an interesting health and fitness blog and one of the gym's owners blogged about a group called Corporate Accountability International. They are going after McDonald's mascot, Ronald McDonald. McDonald's use of the clown gets children hooked on unhealthy food for the rest of their lives. I was pretty irked when I first heard about the campaign against the clown. When is censorship ever the answer? Most advertising is inappropriate for everyone; if it's not exploiting women's bodies, it's exploiting something else. (I'm still so surprised every time I see a commercial for cleaning products sold by women for women).

What does Ronald's retirement accomplish exactly? Will the clown's absence change the fact that McDonld's uses airplanes and helicopters to scout out schools they can put new restaurants by? Will schools stop selling fast food because the clown is gone? Will everyone become aware of unsafe slaughterhouse practices used to fulfill McDonald's meat orders? Will more people become aware of the disparagement in wages between the average McDonald's employee and the CEO?

I'm really getting tired of the witch hunts that never seem to address complication. Do you really think you're protecting your kids by going after some evil that will easily be replaced by another evil? If your kids aren't eating at McDonald's, are they really at home reading books and eating carrots? Do these parents think their kids won't eat at McDonald's because the clown is gone? I know children who eat at McDonald's because that's what their parents had time to feed them and in some cases, that's what their parents could afford to feed them. Is it Ronald's fault that school kids can't identify what a tomato or broccoli looks like, but can identify a chicken nugget?

I've had conversations like this before where people respond with, "My kids. I've got to protect my kids." I agree. We all want to protect something greater than ourselves: each other. I don't want unhealthy products to be foisted onto children, but why not talk to them about horrible business practices and how companies are trying to market to them? Kids are actually smarter than you think. And the thing about kids is that they're so much more willing to change their habits when they learn about stuff. Why not create a list of companies with good business practices? Fun for the whole family!

For the record, I think Corporate Accountability International is a great thing and admire that they're going after McDonald's. I just wish our conversations about this stuff was, well, a conversation.

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