Saturday, September 15, 2007

McDonald's And Home Invasion

I think we are done with McDonald's. We are most likely done with MSNBC as well.

We were on our way back from getting two out of three kids' haircuts at the Oak Brook Mall.

We decided to stop off at McDonald's for lunch. Now I know there are plenty of valid criticisms one can level at McDonald's.

A friend of MizSplotchy's loaned the book Fast Food Nation to us, and I read a bit. But then I put it down. I haven't seen Supersize Me, the Morgan Spurlock film about how just one month of McDonald's food had a severe impact on his health. I really have nothing to defend this avoidance I seem to have, but say I was willfully ignorant. We don't eat it that often, but we do eat it occasionally.

Anyways, if you don't know, McDonald's headquarters is actually in Oak Brook, Illinois. The McDonald's we were eating at was a more upscale restaurant (as upscale as a McDonald's can be, I guess). You could tell that they took greater care in presenting a nice environment, because it was literally right in front of their corporate offices.

So, we get our food and sit down. There are plasma TV screens everywhere. There is one on the wall behind MizSplotchy, that my youngest son and I are directly facing. There's a huge circular bank of televisions in the middle of the restaurant that MizSplotchy and my other two kids have a perfect view of.

It's 12:00pm on a Saturday. The place is filled with nametagged people from some convention, and assorted families. A fair amount of young kids. Most of the televisions were tuned to the Disney Channel, which isn't a surprise. The televisions that weren't showing Disney were showing MSNBC.

Here's where it gets really troubling for me. My wife noticed what they were showing on MSNBC. The sound was off, but one could see black and white security footage of what appeared to be a home invasion. Some people come in and knock a women down to the floor, by hitting her in the head with a gun. Someone shoots a gun into a person laying on the floor.

Okay, that's just awful. It's awful one time. But they don't stop there. They show it again. And again. They zoom in so you can get a better look as the gun makes contact with the woman's head.

The TV that my youngest son is directly in front of is tuned to this channel. I see my other two kids' eyes hit upon the screens above them also tuned to MSNBC. My wife and I start getting really upset, really quickly.

She attempts to go up to tell the employees what is happening, but no one is concerned. There are customers that need food. The manager ignores her. She follows someone else and tries to get them to listen to her. She comes back and I get up. Probably about five or six minutes transpired in the time it took for us to realize what they were showing to us walking out the door. And in that time, I kid you not, this video was played at least seven or eight times. My wife and the kids headed out, as an employee was walking over with a remote control. She said she couldn't change the channel and could only turn it off. I said, well, turn it off! I tried asking her, "Don't you see? Don't you see how this is not appropriate?" Then I left.

So here are my thoughts:

So, if it was September 11th, and we were seeing buildings topple and people screaming, etc., that's one thing. I would be concerned with my kids seeing the disturbing images, etc., but it's a world event, it's news that needs to be told. But I tried looking up what they were showing. I don't know what it was. I don't know how it was relevant to anything. What were they doing replaying this video? Why were they doing it? Maybe it was worthwhile, but seeing it with the sound off and the images of brutal violence being done struck me as sensationalist garbage. On a Saturday afternoon. FUCK YOU, MSNBC.

Fuck you for making me feel like an asshole for saying televised brutal violence is not appropriate on a Saturday afternoon with a room full of kids. Fuck you for not listening. Fuck you for not caring.

The employees could have reacted better, but they are running on the hamster wheel that you have built. I have no doubt that these employees have feelings, opinions and humanity, but they have to supply the almighty burger during their time with you. Anything else is grounds for termination. FUCK YOU, MCDONALD'S. And FUCK YOU for all the other reasons that so many people have documented, but I have been too chickenshit to see.

Fuck me for supporting this system. I'll try to do better. I'll try.


Some Guy said...

Splotchy, I used to eat tons of fast food, including McDonalds. Four times a week minimum. I was riddled with guilt. I decided that the only direct power I had over them was not giving them my money. I really thought it would be impossible to quit fast food cold turkey, but it's 2-1/2 years later (I quit the day after I saw Supersize Me) and I haven't caved once. I do not include local fast food-type places like Portillos, only national chains. I encourage you to give it a shot.

Timothy Donavan Russell said...

Good for you for trying to do the right thing at the restaurant and for taking a stand!

Eric Schlosser's other book, "Reefer Madness", is also worth recommending.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I'm with you on the McDonalds boycott. I used to eat a sausage biscuit there every morning not knowing I was consuming about 30 grams of fat. I'm glad you saw the light. I agree with Chris about local chains though (except I rarely eat fast food anymore), local is always better.

I'm sorry I got to stick with Keith Olbermann though, he's the only network news guy I trust.

Mob said...

Holy shit that's awful, I'm sorry you had such a lousy experience on top of the lousy food.

I would say write their home office, but you'd probably just end up with a bunch of coupons for their food and a half assed apology.

SamuraiFrog said...

I know exactly what you went through. I used to work at the Barnes & Noble there on route 83, so I ate at that McDonald's all the time. They are so focused on making a hardworking impression on their corporate masters that they can't even take the time to look at you before taking your order. Bunch of assholes.

This reminds me of how the "family" restaurant across the street from me now always has the TV turned to The View when I go to breakfast.

Distributorcap said...

i am with you Splotchy.... they should have just turned the TV off if they couldnt turn the channel (which is ridiculous, because they could have turned the channel if they wanted to)

if you write/call McDonalds - something tells me this is one letter they would deal with (and i am king of the letter writers to corporate offices). seriously. you just gotta get it to the right person. Sometimes is does work

Joe said...

You're absolutely right. You paint a perfect picture of life in 2000's corporate run America.

But don't blame yourself. Splotchy's McDonalds spending doesn't make much of a difference one way or another.

Freida Bee said...

That's disgusting and the fact that the employees in an environment aimed at children don't themselves think it's disgusting is disgusting. I bet there was a playscape there and the whole thing is set up to be about family time. Just getting kids used to what they can expect in life, that's the kind of educating MSNBC does. I agree with Distributorcap. Letters to McD's, and the editors of your local paper and your local progressive rags are in order. Easy for me to say for you to do that work. I know.

My husband and I disagree on the point of television/video game violence more than just about anything else and I have found that I can be the one person in my children's lives who says, when I hear a person getting killed, even on Star Wars, "Please turn that off around me. I don't want to hear a person being killed." My eight year-old and I are having very mature and somber conversations about how these acts are fictional, yes, but when I hear it right after I listened to a news report about people really getting killed, it's too similar for me. I just don't want them to be numb to violence. That's exactly the effect that those repetitive, graphic, news reports in McD's will accomplish. (Oh and that "good guy/ bad guy" mentality.)

OK, stepping down from the soapbox. And I'll admit, I saw "3:10 to Yuma" last night and loved it, violence and all. At least I didn't take my kids to see it. It's hard not to be a hypocrite in our society. I am. Thanks for the anecdote, Splotch.

Dale said...

Well placed anger, how ridiculous that we can't go anywhere without televisions to begin with but how inappropriate to be running the news.

Wasn't it McDonald's that used to say 'you deserve a break today'?

dguzman said...

Finish Fast Food Nation, Splotchy--though after your experience, I don't know that anything you read in that book will even compare to the horrifying Saturday you had there.

It's tough to say no to places like McD's when you have kids; other places are expensive, and people give you mean looks when you bring kids into more "upscale" places. But good for you that you're waking up to the global terror that is McD's and other mega-burger-places. They're all evil!

I hope your kids didn't catch too much of that shite.

Tanya Espanya said...

I'm over McDonald's too (although I LOVE a Big Mac).

There was
in the paper about the facelifts the McDonald's are getting here.

GETkristiLOVE said...

If you ever do see SuperSize me - make sure you watch the special features where they do an experiment.

They put a mom and pop shop burger in a jar along with some fries in another. Then, they do the same with McDonald's hamburgers and fries, and then they age them.

After a week of being in the jar, the mom/pop burger and fries are gross and almost a compost heap. The Mickey Dees burger looks almost pristine, and the fries look like you just ordered them. Think about that sitting in you or your kids stomach. Yikes!