We let advertisements for fast food intrude into our lives. This is where we go wrong.
Consider a young actor whose part in an advertisement is to make a social gaffe at the office, or at home, with friends or family present. We squirm with her or his pretended embarrassment, for a moment, until the actor says ‘Did someone say KFC?’ and immediately, a picture of garishly coloured food pops up, as the tension is relieved and the group quits what they are doing to gobble greasy sugar-laden fast food. A percentage of viewers seeing this buys KFC. Fast food has become a form: a social icon lacking reason. At the end of the advertiser’s interest is fast consumption, having nothing to do with nutrition, value for money, nor societal effects. Consequences of fast food don’t matter to them.
KFC advertisements employ fakery that is dishonest, demeans viewers and diminishes respect for KFC as a responsible enterprise. Gaining public respect doesn’t pay them as well as deception. The corporate ethos they apply is a tissue of lies.
Young people’s diets are determined by fashion, emotional appeals and peer pressure, without personal preference, or diversity. They do not discriminate between foods. In their homes they probably do not have opportunities to select foods they eat, nor preparation methods, nor meal quantities, nor dietary balance. They get the same fast food as last time.
The emotion that fast foods appeal to after advertising is hunger. They see photos of colourful foods being enjoyed by beautiful people. When one of them recites the mantra: ‘Did someone say KFC?’, or alternatively, they hear the thumping rhythm ‘I don’t care,’ consumers’ imaginations are captured to buy KFC. It would take a strong leader to divert the salivating group to other brands, or to, say, Japanese food. They want instant gratification and would oppose a survey of members’ preferences or shopping around for better food.
Eating fast food is presented in media to give the appearance of an orgasmic satiation of gluttony as a reflex orgy. Fast food is shovelled down in an uncontrolled frenzy. KFC ads play the hunger emotion for every finger lickin’ mouth waterin’ sensation they can evoke, rejecting the notions of refinement in eating and mealtime discourse. Fast food is consumed quickly, without separating pieces, chewing with the mouth open, wiping on the back of a hand.
The function of sport, reality TV, game shows, sitcoms, news, weather and all popular entertainments, except reading, is for corporations like KFC to take money from buyers of: Fast foods, performer merchandise, music, movies, clothes, groceries, cars, holidays, devices and toys. The profit goes into the investors’ bank accounts. Corporations compete to access attention to their products, at venues and on media, where they compete for the best promotional and selling opportunities.
Fast food advertisers appeal to popularity. The easiest way to convince somebody to buy a product or service is to prove that everyone else has done it already. Once something becomes a widely recognized phenomenon or a trend, it becomes obvious that it has to have some merits – otherwise it wouldn’t be so popular. Right?
This is sometimes referred to as the bandwagon effect or Matthew Effect. The Bible says: ‘For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.’ Matt 13:12
‘In crowd’ people choose fast foods. If they don’t, they will starve. The right fast food can make you friends. The more popular something becomes, the more people buy into it and, consequently, it becomes even more popular. In the book industry, it is referred to as the ‘bestseller effect.’ People buy bestsellers. They do not exercise personal taste or aesthetic sense. KFC falsely have actors and rent-a-crowd showing social approval of their products.
Fast food vendors create venues and contexts to stimulate consumption. The corporate focus on profits can modify an event with audience timeout for peeing, scoffing fast foods and buying merchandise. Popular entertainments require only grunts, tears and hilarity, between mouthfuls. With a full mouth, standards of athleticism, observation of rules and aesthetics cannot be discussed either reasonably or critically. Audiences merely cheer, applaud punch-ups, disdain injuries and dispute referees’ decisions.
Jumbo tubs of popcorn condition audiences with simultaneous eating, as a sublimation of the competitive tension of the event. Packaging enables eating with the hands, without plates, knives or forks. In this way, audiences at public and private venues have been taken over by fast food consumption and consumption of packaging, uneaten condiments, sauces and sugar. Our fast food culture will be condemned in history by the need to dispose of mountains of leftovers, contributing to the burden of excessive resources usage and pollution.
There is worse. The consequences of fast food are physical and mental ill health, from over-indulgence, abandonment of self-control and mindless fast food consumption during media-presented entertainment. Hopefully the fast food craze will disappear as fast as it appeared.
The worst result of fast food is thoughtless followership and surrender of discrimination. Fast food emporia thrive on instant gratification. A leader of a group, seeing a fast food advertisement, asserts her authority: ‘Shut up and take my money!’. It’s an easy sell. When her group walk into the fast food depot, they are pushed into buying ancillary products, paying for them immediately, sight unseen. The food is already prepared and it is a short wait until the package is delivered for immediate consumption. This final act in the food cycle, which began with seeing an advertisement, is opening the package and comparing with expectations. Then there is eating, until bloated they sink into a torpor as their digestive systems grapple with the toxic shock of fat and sugar overload. Then they stumble out, bleary-eyed, to look for some innocuous entertainment to numb their brains, or a casual crime to commit.
Like many industries, fast food suppliers are self-interested and greedy, in the capitalist mould of cultivating indiscriminate unhealthy over-eating. It is not so widely known that their anti-societal intent is to create an addiction to fast food which is harmful to many people. Quit fast foods now!
My novel Turkeys Not Bees is a fiction story about mass entertainment controlled by The Spectacle, see Debord 1967, The Society of the Spectacle.
My writing on related topics: see my blog martinknox.com