Thursday, June 10, 2004

pass the face paint

Am I an anti-corporate warrior? Do Birkenstocks make uour feet look like Cornish pasties? Damn right. I cross my fingers every time I go to Tesco and refuse to laugh openly at people playing didgeridoos in public, except at the people who play them through their noses. But it’s not something I can bring myself to get excited about. If I had a gripe with McDonald’s, for instance, it would be over such dull matters as conditions of employment and union rights rather than their existence as a large corporation as such.

After all, if McDonald’s is a problem, then what’s the solution? Nationalization? Forbidding businessmen to gather in groups of more than twenty people? This latter’s not a bad idea. Adam Smith warned us about what happens when business people get together and “conspiracy against the public” sounds like a piece of classic Blunkettismo.

But, employment conditions aside, what’s the actual problem? They’re a bunch of people who like sell meat, bread and potatoes while wearing polyester. Not my idea of a great way to spend the time, but since meat, bread and potatoes is the staple diet of northern Europe and North America, you can see how the idea took off.

Of course, it’s not such a great idea to confine your diet to the above substances, and the way McDonald’s target kids is pretty cynical. Then again, there are stunted little kids running around Salford Precinct who live entirely on pie and chips, or as it’s called locally, pie anfuckin chips. Is warping children’s nutrition any better when it’s done by nice, homely, traditional fish and chip shops? Surely not.

So when I first heard about Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me documentary, I wasn’t impressed. File under: angry young man turns up at HQ of faceless corporation and embarrasses receptionist with ponderous satire. File and forget, in other words. But when I read a bit more about it, I ran across this:

He was tested beforehand by three doctors and deemed to be an above average human specimen. In the first week he put on 10lbs. After the month he'd added a total of 25lbs. His cholesterol level rose by 65 points (one-third higher than when he started). Most shocking of all, his doctor, who begged the film-maker to abandon the experiment after three weeks, concluded that the constant intake of fast food was causing serious liver damage, akin to that of Nicolas Cage's character in Leaving Las Vegas.

Like I say, meat bread and potatoes isn’t anyone’s idea of balanced nutrition. But it’s been the basic working class menu in Anglostan for just about forever. Whatever the consequences, they shouldn’t include liver failure after three weeks. What the hell are those people doing to basic foodstuffs? Of course, McDonald’s recommends that we don’t eat there absolutely all the time. But that’s like promising not to poison someone all at once.

So maybe the anticorporates have more of a point than I thought. Pass the facepaint Ethel, I feel a didgeridoo coming on. But I won’t take it too far. Looking back, and thanks to Mr S, I certainly wouldn’t take our kid to McDonalds like I used to if he were young now. He could have pie anfuckin chips instead.