Fast Food Companies Are Not Heroes
Very early this morning, the McDonald’s Twitter account tweeted at Donald Trump. Here is what it said:
As you can see in, say, the responses to the Buzzfeed aggregation of this “news,” many users of the Twitter service were delighted to see a very large corporation say something insulting to a widely disliked president.
It’s true that what was displayed on the McDonald’s Twitter account was correct. Donald Trump is bad and he does have small hands. But there is no power to be derived from those words when attached to the logo of a fast food company unless that fast food company really, truly believes them, and is ready to institutionally stand behind that position. McDonald’s, of course, is not. The burger chain said in a subsequent tweet that its launching an investigation over how its account was “compromised”:
McDonald’s is not a passive actor in America. Last year, the company’s ex-CEO Ed Rensi wrote an op-ed directly attributing the spread of automation in its stores to protests by fast food workers across the country to raise their wages all the way to $15 per hour. One good way to rebuke Donald Trump, if a fast food corporation was so inclined, would be to give more money to its low-income employees. Another way would be to publicly fight Trump’s desire to strip away FDA regulations, arguing instead that it’s better for Americans to eat food from properly vetted supply chains. McDonald’s, it should go without saying, is prepared to do none of this. When McDonald’s calls itself a “modern, progressive burger company,” what it means is that it hopes to “lure back customers” by selling superficially higher-end products for low prices.
Fast food chains occupy some bizarrely beloved niche in the Twitter universe, where they have long been celebrated for using the slang of the proletariat to market themselves. However, they are not virtuous, which mostly everyone understands and accepts, but briefly pretends to forget in moments like this. As always, let’s reserve our praise for when one of them does something tangibly good, such as invent a new taco.