What’s the first letter of our alphabet that kids learn? Is it the A? Perhaps the first letter of their own name? Both are good guesses. My personal – not very scientific – radar tells me it may be the M.
And they didn’t learn to read the M from mommy or from their kindergarten teacher. I’m talking of course about the MacDonald’s M. The Mac-Marketeers are very good teaching young children.With kids the golden arches trigger the kind of MacFrenzy one would expect from a bunch of thirsty travelers who finally spot water after weeks traversing a dried out desert. Interestingly, the M we use in our alphabet is borrowed from the Phoenican MEM which looks like a squiggly line and means just that: water. I don’t think Dick and Mac MacDonald thought of that though when they built their first fast food restaurant back in 1953 – during the earlier stages of the cold war.
Much has changed and the yellow M has spread across the globe. It has become to many a symbol of the ultimate victory of capitalism and golbalism. In 1999 Thomas Friedman noticed that “No two countries that both had McDonald’s had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald’s”. Of course there are quite few notable exceptions to this rule but as a rule of thumb his observation still holds.
A decade earlier the cold war had ended in 1988 when George A. Cohon announced that MacDonald’s would be opening in Moscow. Finally, after twelve (!) years of negotiation Muscovites could queue up and pay a week’s salary to get a greasy bite of freedom. The message was clear: the Russians wanted freedom to make their own individual choices, eat whatever the hell they want, indulge in blatant consumerism. I don’t think a collectivist Borsjt take away would have meat with similar enthusiasm in Houston or LA.
The presence of MacDonalds in a country indicates a relatively stable and large middle class of people who can afford to spend a portion of their money on American burgers and French fries. If that isn’t internationalism, than what it? It has become pretty hard to find a country that’s not infected with the MacVirus joined the MacFamily.
From Kansas to Kiev, from Calcutta to Kosovo Mac-Staff are wearing the exact same uniforms and greeting us with the exact same smiles. They are not paid to be creative. They are drilled to follow a predetermined set of steps when grilling our burgers or frying our fries. The good people at the polit-buro Hamburger-University (I am not making this up) already did all the hard thinking for them. The know what’s best to make sure the people get to eat the exact same bland tasting food from the exactly same styrofoam box in restaurants that pretty much look exactly alike.
It’s a good thing those good for nothing commies didn’t win, right!