The corporate watchdog group, Corporate Accountability International (CAI) is pushing McDonald's to scrap Ronald McDonald.
Their reasoning is that Ronald McDonald is the deep fried doppelganger of Joe Camel and they argue that he is a cartoon character who was designed and created for the insidious and nefarious purposes of inducing children into lifelong struggles with obesity, heart disease, and other assorted ailments.
I buy that to some extent -- I mean Morgan Spurlock did a sobering job of showing what a steady diet of the grease-saturated filth McD's calls food does to normal people. Childhhod obesity and adult-we-should-know-better obesity is a problem. McDonald's has tried to make their food healthier. But a comic funnier than me once said it better when he said, "If McDonald's really cared about our health -- they'd fucking close."
The thing is - I think that CAI has it all wrong on several counts -- the main one being not that we should get rid of Ronald McDonald because he's a gateway drug to clogged arteries... we need to get rid of Ronald McDonald because he's a FUCKING CLOWN.
It's almost become a joke that clowns are creepy. It's a given that they're creepy. But where does this creepiness come from?
I blame several things.
First - we had old John Wayne Gacy. While John was running a side business of playing Pogo the Clown at weekend birthday parties, he was also gleefully killing and raping young men and boys, burying them in the crawl space beneath his suburban Chicago home, and doing all kinds of other certifiably crazy shit.
I can only imagine the conversations at the neighborhood barbecue...
Neighbor 1: Hey Gacy! What's that smell
Gacy (in creepy clown makeup): That's just the decomposing body of some 12 year old runaway I picked up at the bus station. I raped him, cut his head off to use as an ashtray, and buried him under that clump of pachysandra you're standing by.
Neighbor 2: Oh, John! You're such the kidder!
John then honks his clown horn and toodles off to entertain the neighbor kids with his dick out
Gacy: Hey kid, help me get the lid off of this bottle. Twist it! That's it! Oh yeah!
To make things even creepier, after Gacy went to death row - he spent 14 years painting picture after picture of CREEPY CLOWNS! The nutty bastard was obsessed with them.
So - that's the main turning point of when clowns became creepy. That was the 70's. It wasn't until the 80's, however, that clowns came into the truly terrifying role they play today.
One word - Poltergeist.
Poltergeist was an interesting horror movie in that it - despite being a modest budget, relatively tame, studio horror flick - still managed to achieve an almost iconic status in the horror genre.
It had Craig T. Nelson - who was like 25 in it and STILL going bald. It had that creepy lady with the squeaky voice and crazy stupid southern accent (I was going to write 'that creepy midget lady' but I think she was outside the range of a midget, and maybe a little too tall to be a dwarf, as well. And how weird is it that there's actually a height scale for your little people labels?!? As they're growing, do little people actually keep track of this? "Woot - I'm 4 feet tall! I'm a dwarf and not a midget anymore! Eat it midget, bastards!". But I digress...)
Granted - much has been made about the allegedly 'cursed' nature of the set. All kinds of people died during and after the filming - including the kid who played the daughter ("Go into the light, Carol Anne!")
Truthfully - Poltergeist wasn't all that scary... save two pivotal and important scenes. The first was when old Craig T. gets up for a midnight snack, takes a chomp out of a piece of chicken, and realizes it's squirming with maggots. Awesome scene, and I still think of it EVERY TIME I have a piece of cold chicken out of the fridge.
But that scene pales when compared to the scene in Craig T's son's room. You know which one I'm talking about, right?
It's the scene with the creepy fucking attack clown.
I honestly believe that that single scene scarred an entire generation. From that moment forward, clowns became something darker and more horrifying than they'd previously been. Before that, clowns were fucking celebrities. You had Emmett Kelly, Bozo the Clown, Clarabell from Howdy Doody (what a terrifying mindfuck THAT little wooden monstrosity of puppetry was!) and Soupy Sales.
Before Poltergeist, clowns are happy and cheery reminders of a circus or carnival that filled us with childlike wonder. After Poltergeist? Living incarnations of all that is wrong and evil.
Now - when asked in polls what scares people most - many will respond unconditionally with clowns.
This evil was further expanded on in film and literature by the likes of Stephen King (Pennywise the Clown from It)and movies like Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Don't even get me started on The Insane Clown Posse. Clowns are pervasive and they're out there everywhere with their ghoulish white faces and evil red noses.
And Ronald McDonald hasn't got the message that he's fucking horrifying. He's happily bopping along, selling his preprocessed burgers that taste eerily reminiscent of soilent green - unaware that he's traumatizing future generations. And that's the angle the CAI needs to take.
Screw this "he's not good for our cholesterol levels" crap. How about some "he'll eat our flesh and then, when done with that, OUR VERY SOULS!"?
There are honestly some things scarier than old Doctor Zombie. Believe me.
Things like clowns.
Clowns are harbingers of death and madness, and they hungrily wait for you under your bed.
I'm just saying...