Editorial: Down With the Clown?
First, it was San Francisco banning Happy Meal toys. And now it looks like New York wants to follow suit. A time.com article recently stated: "New York City Council member Leroy G. Comrie, Jr., of Queens is leading the charge to ban kid-friendly toys from any fast-food meal that doesn't meet certain nutritional standards, arguing that the plastic playthings serve to reward children for making poor food choices and undermine parents' attempts to steer kids toward healthful options."
But it's gotten personal. They're going after Ronald McDonald himself. A group called Corporate Accountability International introduced a resolution calling for the clown to fade away into retirement.
McDonald's countered, noting that the Ronald McDonald mascot is key to the Ronald McDonald House Charities, a group whose mission is to positively impact the health and well-being of children.
When governments get involved in who mascots can be and what corporations and businesses can sell, I take issue. What's next? Dictating what Piggy Wiggly can stock on its shelves? Look at pre-packaged foods. Often high in calories and loaded with fat and sodium, much of it is simply junk.
Too Much Control?
If the government wants to get involved at such a deep level, with a record number of American food stamp recipients, should Big Brother dictate that those funds are only to be used for fruits and vegetables and not presweetened cereals, potato chips and ice cream?
The government should not be spending our tax dollars by telling us what we can eat unless they are going to get to the root of the problem. Funding those on government assistance who choose to be unhealthy while simultaneously controlling free will and capitalism through regulation is, in a word, scary. Let's put more resources into programs like the Presidential Fitness Award and the "Let's Move" program.
Parents should ultimately be held responsible for guiding their children. No one is forcing anyone to wheel into a fast food joint and order unhealthy meals.
A Better Approach
Instead of pointing the finger at a mascot, the protestors trying to kill off Ronald McDonald should put more energy into working with educators and school administrations to look at healthier meal alternatives for school lunches. They could take a lesson from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
You don't seem him screaming outside of a building with a poster aiming to shame any corporate mascots. Oliver is taking the smarter approach by teaching communities how to eat healthy and balanced meals while teaching children how to cook simple meals. Laying the foundation for a future healthy lifestyle will have a much more meaningful impact than ripping a toy from a box.
Demonizing poor old Ronnie isn't the solution.