Friday, September 10, 2004

Burger King Bill of Rights
Over the past few weeks, the convergence of my own thoughts with some remarks on the blog about the Burger King "Have it your way" mentality has led me to this post. It all started some weeks ago on a trip to Oklahoma City. I stopped in Burger King to have a quick lunch before continuing on the road. As I enjoyed my lunch, I glanced up at the wall and noticed a large poster bearing the title of this post. I read it in my solo-lunch-boredom and found myself laughing on the inside at the utter stupidity of the poster. Of course, I shared the account of the idiotic poster with Fr. Tharp. And, then, only days later, Fr. Garrett made some remarks in a post about the ego-centric, rugged individualism, evident in the "Have it your way" mentality. So, I vowed to get a copy of the Burger King Bill of Rights so it could be shared on the blog.

When I next visited Burger King, I was going to ask how to get a copy of the poster. But I chickened out, not wanting to look so desperate as to have my own copy. So, like a total nerd (yes, I know, that is usually Fr. Tharp's department!), I took a pad of paper into Burger King and, as I waited for my order to be called, I began to write down in shorthand the Bill of Rights. I was very pleased, however, when I glanced down at my tray of food and noticed that the complete Bill of Rights had been printed as a placemat. That sure saved a great amount of time! So, here it is, the Burger King Bill of Rights:

You have the right to have things your way. You have the right to hold the pickles and hold the lettuce. You have the right to mix Coke and Sprite. You have the right to a Whopper sandwich with extra tomato, extra onion and triple cheese. You have the right to have that big meal sleepy feeling when you're finished. You have the right to put a paper crown on your head and pretend you're the ruler of "your make-believe kingdom here." You have the right to have your chicken fire grilled or fried. You have the right to dip your fries in ketchup, mayonnaise, BBQ sauce or mustard. Or not. You have the right to laugh until soda explodes from your nose. You have the right to stand up and fight for what you believe in. You have the right to sit down and do nothing. You have the right to eat a hot and juicy fire-grilled burger prepared just the way you like. You have the right to crumple this Bill of Rights into a ball and shoot hoops with it.

And then I discovered that apparently there had a been a plenary assembly of the franchise, what we might call the First Continental Congress of Burger King, at which certain amendments were made to the Bill of Rights, because more wording appeared on my drink cup:

Maybe you want a lot of ice. Maybe you want no ice. Maybe you want your top securely fastened, or maybe you want to go topless. Hmmm? Maybe you want to mix Coke and Sprite. Maybe you want to let your cup runneth over (we wish you wouldn't). Whatever you do, make sure to have things your way.

The emphasis in the above is mine. Now, I know this is just a silly ad campaign for a burger joint. I could certainly be accused of making too much of a small matter. But what struck me about this moronic Bill of Rights was two things: (1) the reality of the ego-centric, selfish, rugged individualism at the foundation of the Bill. A reality that ad people obviously recognize because they appeal to it, knowing it will speak to people of today and, when joined with Burger King, it will sell burgers and fries; and, (2) the strange admixture of silly personal preferences in the realm of hamburgers with more general (highlighted above) tendencies to view the world as a purely subjective matter of personal preference. Notice the highlighted phrases speak to much larger matters, as if each of us has the right to have things our way, as if standing up and fighting for one's beliefs has anything to do with what one is having for lunch. The end product is that I am my own sovereign and no one can tell me what to do. It's all about me, me, me. And furthermore, things that really should be fought for, things that require dedication and sacrifice, are so trivialized in this Bill of Rights (by being juxtapositioned with soda and hamburger choices) that they ultimately mean nothing.

That's my commentary. At the end of that meal, at which I got my copy of the Bill, I then attempted to put a lid on my soda cup. I picked the lid from the appropriate bin for medium drinks and it wouldn't fit on the cup. The next size up was too large. So, I had to mangle the lid to get it to go on. It took a strong act of will, having been armed with "my rights," to avoid the temptation to go up to the counter with my misfit lid and demand that it be made to fit my cup. And when they might have suggested a new lid, I was fully prepared to demand my rights that I want THIS lid to fit. I want it my way! Anyway, I didn't make things ugly for them. Burger King is still better than McDonald's (as far as food goes. I have no idea about the democratic principles of McD's), I will still eat there, and if you disagree with me, you are wrong!

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