Thursday, October 1, 2009

Discussion 3: China's Big Mac Attack

This is the kind of essay that grabs you with the title. Who wouldn't want to read about Big Macs? But before you know it, you're sucked in. What awaits you? A really long essay about how McDonalds is contributing to American globalization, taking over and changing China.

For some of us, it was hard to get into this essay. Not because we aren't interested in China. Because we talked about globalization two weeks ago. Many of us feel the same way as we did then. Globalization is not destroying culture. Simply, people are coming together and changing each other. Perhaps we should be cultivating our own cultures, instead of adopting from one another. But since the beginning of time, people have adopted and adapted to each other and birthed new cultures. It's just what happens. This established, we tried to focus on aspects of the essay that didn't have to do with globalization.

Some of us found it sad that McDonalds is known around the globe as the symbol of America. "That's what represents us," said Brie. "A fast food restaurant." Jan pointed out that anything American stands for freedom. American stuff is cool. Aaron added that when he was traveling, he felt both comforted and depressed by seeing McDonalds in other countries. It's good, he said, because you know what you're going to get if you go in there. It's also sad to think that's our contribution to the world.

Dave and Jan went on to highlight the power of McDonalds as a business. McDs wants to make money, not cultural war. They have been embraced for a number of reasons. Conformity. Cleanliness. The Ronald McDonald House for children. And - last but not least- their food. It's horrible for you. But it tastes good. Can McDonalds be blamed for running a business well?

There were contradictions throughout the essay. According to author James Watson, some people in other countries don't realize that it's an American corporation. But this is a contradiction to the many times Watson states that Chinese parents take their children to McDonalds to connect with the outside world. Josh pointed out that even when other countries boycott American goods, they still go to McDonalds. Perhaps this indicates that McDonalds is a bigger power than any nation, any government? That's a little scary.

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