McDonalds: Would you like to super-size your self-hatred?

Uber fast food chain McDonalds has been denigrated and excoriated long enough with none to defend it but its advertising millions and corporate lawyer-murderers. I will acknowledge and disregard all of your criticisms of McDonalds as restaurant, company, idea and system of semiotics. McDonalds is not the sort of restaurant that prepares food well. Nor is it the sort of restaurant that is clean or well-decorated. Nor can it be said to be greatly more nutritious than a repast of anthrax and mentholated spirits. It is also true to say that McDonalds is not a small family company. It would be more true to say that McDonalds was a colossal multinational staffed by mind-control clowns exerting themselves to implant desire in children as deep as Original Sin.

But for all of that there is a still a McDonalds shaped hole in side of me and this is why: in a world of distinctions, expectations, invisible barriers and taboos McDonalds is the ultimate democratic and non-judgemental institution. McDonalds prohibits no one: it is an institution of no walls. So long as you have 59p you cannot be too dirty, misbehaved, diseased or depraved for McDonalds to shrug indifferently as you come through the door. (As a dogmatic democratist, I cannot pretend that I am fond of the property qualification, but it is nothing more than a twig to be vaulted by gargantuists.) It is impossible to hate yourself enough to believe that you are unworthy of McDonalds. And let us be honest: the psychological crutch that McDonalds represents in society is one that helps us to hold up the weight of our self-hatred. The McDonalds size hole in me coincides exactly with the somatic topography of my self-hatred, as if it was nothing but an externalisation of those feelings.

Going to McDonalds is a profound act of self-hatred, like scourging or suicide. It is an act of self-abasement in which we all share; an alliance in depravity that unites all of the wretched of the world. McDonalds is a lot like Graham Greene’s conception of Catholicism: it is about human weakness and desperate emotions like guilt, shame and self-loathing; but more than that it is about an intense, but bleak, emotionalism that suffuses all existence; something undeniable and unpleasantly immediate that lives at the centre of our lives, bored into the sinews of our being. Eating at McDonalds has a diluted similitude: it is about confronting that which is ugly in our own nature, about being an individual in an unknowably big entity and its about the way that painful experiences can be the most important and necessary ones.

McDonalds is Catholicism, Graham Greene and a mirror of self-hatred, but it is also liberalism. McDonalds tactfully asks no questions. McDonalds doesn’t give a fuck who you are; it is far too pitiful and fallen to presume to ask. It does not see your past, it doesn’t try to divine your future; it will not try to rehabilitate or punish you. You could be anyone and the same befuddled Downs Syndrome welcome party would give you the same square, congealed orange formation of cheese appended to an anonymous brown meat-substance. And McDonalds understands individualism. With other eateries there is still a lingering post-war collectivism: eating is a group activity, a social activity in which the ingestion of food is of only incidental importance. Only monkey-fellating perverts and sweating, quivering monologists eat on their own and in exchange for their temerity they receive brutal wordless derision. McDonalds, though, like a supine and indifferent prostitute, understands our needs and is quite as indifferent about individual coitus as about its collective counterpart. McDonalds knows that there are some things that one wants to do as an individual and it accommodates that need beneficently. As a child, a parent, a parvenu adolescent or a drunkard one can want to go to McDonalds with other people, as if it were something as trivial as a social experience. McDonalds will even let you, but that’s not what it’s for. Eating at McDonalds is a symbolic act and a private, shameful one like masturbation. One goes to McDonalds to admit and to confront self-hatred and to accept it as a necessary condition of life. One goes alone.

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