These days, Ronald McDonald is probably the best-known clown amongst the Happy Meal crowd. Kids today may not know Bozo, Clarabell, or Arlecchino from I Pagliacci, but even children who have never eaten there are almost certainly familiar with the spokesclown for McDonald’s restaurants, Ronald McDonald. And that is just what makes the murderous buffoon so dangerous.
Just like Joe Camel (remember him?), Ronald McDonald is a mascot whose time has past, according to Corporate Accountability International, one of the groups that sent Joe Camel to the showers. Says the group on a special Retire Ronald website they’ve set up, “these tired mascots should be spending their golden years relaxing and sharing tales of their bygone days spent targeting children with deadly products.”
So Big Macs are killing our kids and Ronald McDonald is the pusher who’s convincing our kids that they’re okay. But is it really Ronald’s fault? How much blame should fall on the parents who feed their kids Happy Meals on a regular basis or, even worse, make them out to be some sort of special treat so that kids see fast food as more desirable than, say, a nice home-cooked meal? Now, I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve taken our kids to McDonald’s and more often than we’d like, but it’s always seen as a last resort — a necessity brought on by unfortunate circumstances rather than a reward of some sort.
And realistically, if the company sacked old Ronald, would it really make a difference? Parents who take their kids to McDonald’s and other such restaurants are still going to do so. Kids who are hooked on french fries are still going to crave them. And for the younger kids, I’m sure McDonald’s will come up with something just as enticing, just as alluring as old Ronald, if not more so. On the other hand, maybe they won’t. What’s your take on this?