Mar 14 2010
This week’s selection, Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation was not a reading that anyone was amazed by. Most of us have seen the movie Fast Food Nation or Supersize Me. The book took the readers into the dark world that Ronald McDonald rules (whom Willard Scott named?!), where kids are fat and chicken is mechanically separated. In 6th grade my class had to read The Jungle. To be honest, I have no idea why the teacher assigned it to us. She was a bitter woman who was never smiled and complained about the small size of her closet office all the time. But, I digress.
After reading that book and then learning more in depth about the food reforms that resulted in AP US History in 11th grade, I assumed that the worst was over. I knew that I would never want to work in a meat-packing plant, but the way that we learned about it, it seemed like these places were at least safe. But, after reading Fast Food Nation, I now know that it is certainly not the case. What struck me was the story of Kenny, an immigrant who was especially committed to his job at the meat-packing plant and even after losing an arm during work, he still managed to work hard and even save a fellow employee’s life; only to get quietly fired. Even after putting an exuberant amount of work into his job, and working in extremely dangerous conditions, he still was not valued as an employee.
In class one of our main topics of discussion was that of marketing to children. In the book, Schlosser mentioned a bill that was introduced that would have made it illegal to market to children under a certain age. Even though this didn’t get passed, think about how our lives would be different had it become law. What would constitute advertising? Would ice cream trucks be allowed to display their products on the sides of trucks and play music? Would Barbie cases be covered in mundane writing to make it less appealing to children? Even stating these ideas doesn’t make sense; there’s no way that we could not advertise to children. I guess that my question is this: is it immoral to advertise to children? If you can’t advertise to children then you can’t make money on the products that you make. This would mean that children wouldn’t have products that appeal to them. I would say that it is, however, immoral to advertise to children regarding fast food meals because of how unhealthy they are. Add in Ronald McDonald and friends and the kids think that they are the good guys. But, let’s be honest: they’re not.
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