14 March 2008

Where's the Cheese?

Of the many casualties in the war for corporate fast-food supremacy, there are few so heroic as Mayor McCheese. The Mayor arrived on the political scene in the early 70's and for 20 years presided over McDonaldland with a firm yet high-cholesterol hand. But sometime in the early 90's, this be-monocled big-headed burger-meister disappeared from public life. No scandal, no trumped-up charges, no press release, no hoo-haa, nothing. Harold-Holt style, he simply sank beneath the cold relentless waves of the Zeitgeist ocean.

How could such an illustrious political dynamo vanish without a trace? Ever vigilant in my search for truth, I approached McDonalds for word on the Mayor's whereabouts. The response I received was predictably glib and smacked of a cover-up. I was not satisfied: I'd cruised up to the drive-through window of truth and ordered a piping hot value meal of answers, but all i received was a soggy grease-soaked bag of questions.

The US has a proud history of plotting to overthrow foreign governments: Guatemala '53, Cuba '61, Brazil '63, Chile '73. In each instance, the military attempted to overthrow the government with covert US support at the behest of some shadowy unknown figure. Thanks to my uncanny powers of assumption, I can declare the identity of the shadowy unknown who took down the valiant Mayor McCheese is none other than...Ronald McDonald! That's right, people, jealous of the Mayor's huge popularity rating in McDonaldland, Ronald marshalled his evil forces and led a ketchupy coup targetting the authoritative triumverate of police force (Officer Big Mac), judiciary (Captain Crook), and government (Mayor McCheese), and replaced them with his own people. He even gave the head of his secret police, Hamburglar, a makeover, turning him from a slippery deformed maniac into a cutesy smiling maniac. Those McArseholes!

The final step was an Orwellian rewrite of the history books to make it seem like things had always been this way and remove all trace of the Mayor's existence. The McDonald's internet site lists a bunch of trademarks owned by McDonalds and guess what? Mayor McCheese is not among them. Some interesting ones to note, however: Bolshoi Mac, Cajita Feliz, Changing the Face of the World, Cuarto De Libra. Is it just me, or does this smack of a bourgeois totalitarian authority with a sinister penchant for sticking it to the socialist anti-capitalist little guy? (incidentally, McDonalds has copyright on all of these phrases so don't even think about using them yourself).

Jokes aside, the McTruth is that McDonalds and the advertising agency responsible for creating Mayor McCheese and the entire McDonaldland campaign were sued in the 70's by Sid and Marty Krofft, creators of the bizarre and surreal kids show, HR Puffinstuff. Apparently, a court found that the agency ripped off the venerable HR by wrongfully appropriating the "total concept and feel" of the show and even went so far as to hire ex-Puffinstuff employees to design the costumes and sets. Ultimately, the Kroffts were awarded a large settlement and, presumably as a result of the court action, McDonalds were forced to stop using the misappropriated characters. Unfortunately, this left the world deprived of one of its most endearing burger-headed statesmen. Oh, the McHumanity!

For more of the McTruth, visit www.mcspotlight.org

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