Globalization of the Fast Food Industry
Imagine a world where almost everyone is overweight, and cultural and family traditions do not exist. Eric Schlosser's book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal explores the effects of the spread of fast-food companies like McDonald's to other countries. In his chapter “Global Realization” Eric Schlosser claims that “The global expansion of American fast food is homogenizing cultural identities; like Las Vegas, it offers “a brief sense of hope… that most brilliant illusion of all, a loss that feels like winning” Schlosser carefully selects and organizes information to advance his claim by using direct evidence as well as more subtle methods. In order to critically evaluate the validity of his argument, it is important to explore different perspectives of this issue by taking into consideration about what others have to say regarding this matter before coming to a conclusion.
Schlosser illustrates how Las Vegas and fast food is similar by using indirect comparisons between the two in order to give readers a general idea on how the fast food industry exploits its customers through illusions just like Las Vegas does. He first starts off by explaining that like McDonald's, “Las Vegas is the fulfillment of social and economic trends now seeping from the American West to the farthest reaches of the globe” (Schlosser 533). With its artificial indoor rain-forests and Elvis impersonators, it seems like Las Vegas set the theatrical standards for cities all around the world much like how fast food companies such as McDonald's uses happy meal
themes, cheap prices, fast service, and drive-thru convenience to lure customers. Schlosser describes Vegas as “an entirely man-made creation, a city that lives for the present, that has little connection to its surrounding landscape, that cares little about its own past” (533).McDonald's is much like Vegas because it too is entirely man made, and it has no connection to its surrounding landscape because all of the McDonald's in the world are virtually the same. Schlosser uses the metaphor that “Las Vegas and food offers most brilliant illusion of all, a loss that feels like winning” (534). He brings this idea to the table because fast food's price, convenience, familiarity, and target to young children all fool the consumer into thinking that they are getting a great deal on a meal, but instead consumers are contributing to bad health, bad business practices, and global homogenization. Unfortunately what many people do not realize is that ultimately the cause for all the theatrics and conveniences all point to the need for money. The casinos in Las Vegas want more money, as does the fast food industry, and they are both willing to do whatever it takes to achieve more of it.
Schlosser uses a small town called Plauen as a concrete example of how the fast food industry effects cultural identities in order to show readers how big of an impact fast food can be in a real life situation. Schlosser describes Plauen as the place that has been “alternately punished, rewarded, devastated, and transformed by the great unifying systems of the twentieth century” (525). Plauen used to be known for its slow country-side lifestyle and large textile mills in the early nineteenth century, but fast forward to modern times and a few years after American fast food has made its way to Plauen, and it is now a country that is surrounded by several McDonalds' where people listen to “country western bands” and adopt “western traditions suchnas square dancing in their cowboy outfits on Wednesday nights” (549).Schlosser describes the teenagers in Plauen as being like Americans by “being dressed in Nikes, Levis, and Tommy Hilfiger T-shirts sitting in groups and smoking cigarettes” (532). Nowadays in Plauen, people dress, eat, and act like a westernized society and they're past lifestyles, culture, and food only...