Idol Chatter

whopperpicforic.jpgI like commercials. Most people leave the room when a commercial comes on, but I turn up the volume. I appreciate the artistry needed to manipulate the public into purchasing a product in less than two minutes. And while I absolutely revel in the inventiveness of Burger King’s new “Whopper Virgins” campaign, it also leaves an extraordinarily bad taste in my mouth.
The campaign introduces us to people from various isolated groups–Transylvanian, Thai and Greenland villagers–who have “never seen a burger; don’t know what a burger is.” They have never seen a Whopper, have no concept of the Big Mac and, therefore, can offer the purest taste test in the world. Sure, the ad intones, “The Whopper is America’s favorite,” but what will these neophytes choose? It’s brilliant! It’s genius! It’s evil!

Ok, so evil is clearly overstating it, but in this post-“Super Size Me” world, it’s almost immoral to introduce cultures ignorant of fast food to the artery-clogging fare. I’m not denying that fast food is delicious and iconic and fine to eat every once in a great while, but in this case, ignorance is bliss. At least for your liver.
The website is wonderfully/horribly insidious in that it presents the entire undertaking as some form of appetite anthropology. “This is real science, folks!” they seem to be saying. And, in fact, in a way it is. There is a scientific method to this madness. There is also an Art Director, but it’s science nonetheless. They’ve even developed a custom-made portable Burger King broiler so that the Whoppers would taste as authentic as possible.
The Burger King film crew talks about how amazing it is to see people who don’t even know how to go about eating a burger, declaring “We live in America were a hamburger is consumed, like a, like a staple.” But that is not a good thing! If I could eat fast food everyday without destroying my body, I would. A McDonald’s cheeseburger, a Taco Bell Nacho Bell Grande and some Burger King onion rings would make my day. But, I know that I can’t do that, or I’d be grande myself.
Just look at the rising obesity statistics in countries, like China, that have just recently embraced fast food corporations. As Worldwatch Institute points out, “Ironically, as the governments of developing countries struggle to reduce malnutrition in their nations, they now simultaneously find their health resources taxed by obesity-related diseases.”
Everyone has free will and can choose what they will do with their bodies in the end, but still it seems somewhat irresponsible for Burger King to offer such a tasty temptation to peopIes blissfully ignorant. I must say, as much as I love McDonald’s, and I do, it was heartening to see that many of the Romanian villagers quickly moved away when offered a taste of burger and that one Greenlander said he preferred the taste of seal meat to the Whopper.
But, perhaps the most telling piece of film is when the Burger King crew shared a traditional Thai meal–full of vibrant red and green produce–with the villagers and raved about it. When was the last time you raved about something you picked up at the drive-thru?

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