The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Hey – Maybe It’s Just A Sandwich

Posted on | November 21, 2013 | 86 Comments


“There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them.”
-George Orwell

Which is about as good an introduction as we’re going to get for the mind-numbingly ridiculous The McRib: Enjoy Your Symptom, an essay for The Atlantic scrawled by one Ian Bogost, whose surname is reminiscent not only of “bogosity” but of the Britishism “bogroll”, which is our English cousins’ word for the household item commonly used to remove things most similar to this essay from your rear end.

“Lacan is a tyrant who must be driven from our shores. Narrowly trained English professors who know nothing of art history or popular culture think they can just wade in with Lacan and trash everything in sight.”
-Camille Paglia

Bogost would like us to take him seriously as he delivers a post-modernist philosophical critique of McDonald’s, that food emporium so often mocked by the intellectualoids as a threat not only to the diet and health of America but the very world, so he drags in the French pseudo-philosopher Lacan and the deranged, posturing Slovenian Communist Slavoj Zizek to “prove” that we don’t really know what we’re doing when we order the McRib, Chicken McNuggets, Double Quarter Pounder, or the other items on the menu. No, we’re just slaves to our unconscious, which desires things that aren’t on the menu but are rather marketed without being marketed. This is obvious nonsense, and Bogost teases us with the notion that he knows it’s nonsense before dancing away on another binge of free-association tarted up with art history and pseudo-paradoxes that exist only in the mind of people without the brainpower to do their own thinking without the crutches of Lacan, Saussure and their ilk.

Most people don’t want to know how the McRib and McNuggets are made for the same reason they don’t like hanging around slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants, and to suggest that there’s something wrong with this is itself wrong. It’s a clear signal that the writer doesn’t understand ordinary folks and how they think and feel. Unfortunately, this is a common problem with the academic Pecksniffs among us, who can’t understand why Americans prefer tasty, affordable mass-produced hamburgers and pork sandwiches to tasteless, expensive “organic” foods that can’t be easily consumed while on the road in the family minivan. Or, for that matter, a preference for clinging to guns and religion in a time when the intellectualoids and their Lightworker are in charge and straining to produce a national transformation.

Bogost drivels on about the seasonal appearance and disappearance of the McRib as if it were some kind of overwhelming cultural event, fraught with significance and weighing heavily on the American id. Clearly, he has zero understanding of the fast food business -or of any part of the food business, I daresay- and its attention to the changing tastes of the American consumer. Even a decade ago, the menus at McDonald’s and Burger King featured nothing more spicy than ketchup and pepper packets, but now both chains (and their competitors) boast barbeque sauces (hot and mild), jalapeno and habanero pepper-spiced items, and various Southwestern and Buffalo-style chicken items that leave a definite burning sensation behind on their way to the digestive tract. Items rotate in and out of the menu on a seasonal basis: you won’t find egg nog shakes in the middle of summer, or the regional specialty McBrat outside tailgate season in the Midwest.

There are many reasons to visit a McDonald’s: cheap, tasty food served fast; large sodas sold for cheap in the pit of the summer; free wifi when the home internet is down. Nobody goes there for the ambience or to experience a gastronomic thrill, and only a deluded intellectualoid like Mr. Bogost would think anyone would go there driven by the unquiet urges of their id. In the end, the McRib is just a sandwich.


86 Responses to “Hey – Maybe It’s Just A Sandwich”

  1. Wombat_socho
    November 21st, 2013 @ 6:46 pm

    I think it’s more a case of their customer base not being able to pop for the high-end burgers any more.

  2. Matthew W
    November 21st, 2013 @ 6:46 pm

    There’s nothing at McDonald’s that’s bad for you if you don’t eat it too much.

  3. Wombat_socho
    November 21st, 2013 @ 6:48 pm

    If I relocate to Las Vegas (currently scheduled to happen in 2015, unless I get a Real Job here in DC) I’ll have the opportunity to test that proposition.

  4. Wombat_socho
    November 21st, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

    One wonders if his eyes cross naturally or if it’s the drugs.

  5. Wombat_socho
    November 21st, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

    Make sure you have it properly palletized and (if possible) fitted with Soviet surplus rocket braking devices.

  6. RS
    November 21st, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

    Let’s take the two paragraphs of this comment which are not a book review and look at them, sentence by sentence:

    As far as I know there is no need to severely mistreat animals to feed the West.

    Evidence? Define “severe mistreatment,” especially under circumstances where the animal is going to be killed for food.

    There is plenty to eat – in fact too much to eat – in the West.

    Evidence? And if true, where do you think a lot of that food goes? It doesn’t rot in the fields. It gets sold overseas to other countries.

    And people, the majority of them, have more money than just for food and rent. Many people have quite more money.

    So what? Perhaps they’d rather spend their money on something other than food, which is one reason we have such a high standard of living in this country: Life’s necessities are less expensive, thereby allowing us to purchase luxuries, like, oh say, parochial school tuition to make sure our children aren’t subjected to the government sponsored gay agenda.

    Many people could pay more for meat that wasn’t produced by mistreating the animals.

    See response above. Plus, assuming “many” people could pay more, what about those who cannot? Or, is meat now limited to only the rich?

    If everyone demanded meat and poultry that wasn’t produced by mistreatment, the prices would come down – quite a bit, in fact.

    And your economics and animal husbandry degrees are from where? First, when demand goes up, so does the price. Second, “free range” practices are land intensive. Supply would actually decrease thereby increasing the price, as well, or land which is profitably used for other purposes would be repurposed for animal husbandry, causing a decrease in efficiency.

    And so the majority of people would still be able to afford it.

    And screw the poor. They don’t need meat.

    Who says you need to torture a chicken to grow peanuts?

    First, we get the word “torture,” again, which, again is not defined. Second, we finally get to the real purpose of your diatribe, subtle though it may be. You don’t like the fact that people eat animals. Nevertheless, admitting you have no expertise or knowledge and express merely beliefs, you espouse extraordinarily naive views about how the world should get nutrition from farm to table. Agribusiness is an easy target for people who’s only exposure to it is the supermarket shelf or the butcher’s case. Let me suggest, you should spend some time among people who don’t have enough to eat; whose children die of malnutrition or spend their shortened lives suffering from diseases unknown in our country because of their diet.

  7. Wombat_socho
    November 21st, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

    Anybody who can’t figure out that a McRib isn’t actually pork rib(s) is probably dumb enough to take Bogost’s essay at face value, and deserves what they get.
    Oh, wait. They did.

  8. RS
    November 21st, 2013 @ 6:52 pm

    Steak ‘N Shake. Period.

  9. Matthew W
    November 21st, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

    Yeah, it’s called “pasture land” here in the Mid West.

  10. Alessandra
    November 21st, 2013 @ 7:49 pm

    RS! Seriously! If you want someone who spent a long time investigating the subject, and accumulating evidence — your precious little evidence that you claim you want but you don’t want to face at all — you can read Scully’s book. One of many authors and a very reputed one. But you don’t want to read. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I see that you are running away from reading any experts. It’s plain to see why. You can’t play strawman games with them.

    You don’t want information. You don’t want definitions, you don’t want investigative reports, analyses, nothing.

    You want to play agribusiness trolling on McCain’s blog. You like to torture animals and make excuses for yourself, I don’t. You don’t admit it, but it’s clear that’s your game.

    You can go read what people who have investigated the subject have found, or you can continue talking to yourself, telling yourself you know everything.


  11. Nan
    November 21st, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

    The problem with bringing in Slovenian communists is that they have insufficient experience with fast food. When I was in Slovenia, not long before they broke up with Yugoslavia, there were food shortages I was told; I didn’t notice because I had no idea what they usually had available. You could get meat, bread, fruit, vegetables and junk food but not in the variety that we have in the US; even back then we had tons of choices. Diet Coke was non-existent. I remember having apples, oranges and grapefruit available all the time, but bananas were rare and cost about a buck apiece; my roommate at the banana peel because she didn’t want to waste any part of the fruit.

    They had no American fast food brands but had some imitation, very slow, alleged fast food emporium in Ljubljana. They put ivar on their burgers; I’m not sure what’s in it but I didn’t like it. Too spicy and made with eggplant. There were pizza places but that was the Italian influence.

    Another couple of noteworthy items are a) the bank accounts; with my American passport and money, I could have a hard currency account and withdraw dollars, which was impossible for most; there were also hard currency stores that had exotic items such as American Booze, M&M’s, premium toys including Lego and Barbie and electronics.

  12. ChandlersGhost
    November 21st, 2013 @ 8:42 pm
  13. ChandlersGhost
    November 21st, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

    You are all wrong. Sonic is the best.

  14. Matthew W
    November 21st, 2013 @ 9:10 pm

    Mmmmm, BACON !!

  15. scarymatt
    November 21st, 2013 @ 10:09 pm


  16. Cube
    November 21st, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

    I feel the same about that other California invention, In-N-Out. It’s a “must have” every time I get the chance.

  17. Cube
    November 21st, 2013 @ 10:42 pm

    And including Camille Paglia, one of my favorite authors. Even when I don’t agree with her, she’s always a fascinating read.

  18. ChandlersGhost
    November 21st, 2013 @ 10:50 pm

    Definitely. Paglia is my favorite liberal feminist. Very learned and always entertaining.

  19. rmnixondeceased
    November 21st, 2013 @ 10:52 pm

    Yep. It’s what for lunch …

  20. Wombat_socho
    November 21st, 2013 @ 10:54 pm

    This is the central theme of the Fat Head documentary – if you avoid the starchy and sugary parts of McDonald’s and other fast-food places, you’ll actually lose weight. It’s true. I’ve done it.

  21. joethefatman
    November 21st, 2013 @ 11:33 pm

    That would be number one of the various reasons. When I do go for a burger, about twice a year, I like to go to Whataburger. They were higher priced than McD even before the economy tanked, now you need a loan for a jalapeno topped burger.

  22. joethefatman
    November 21st, 2013 @ 11:36 pm

    Nope. Whataburger is tops. Sonic is ok , but Whataburger is better.

  23. ChandlersGhost
    November 21st, 2013 @ 11:43 pm

    I don’t think we have Whataburger in California. Until I try it I’m willing to concede.

  24. rsmccain
    November 22nd, 2013 @ 12:09 am

    Wow, @wombat_socho’s burger post is very popular!

  25. Cameron_Gray
    November 22nd, 2013 @ 12:12 am

    #McRib – RT @rsmccain: Wow, @wombat_socho’s burger post is very popular!

  26. BobBelvedere
    November 22nd, 2013 @ 12:19 am

    RT @rsmccain: Wow, @wombat_socho’s burger post is very popular!

  27. joethefatman
    November 22nd, 2013 @ 12:22 am

    Never concede on a personal preference. And Whataburger is a Texas thing that has spread to Louisiana and I think Mississippi. Sonics #2 with mustard is pretty good as well.

  28. BeccaJLower
    November 22nd, 2013 @ 12:28 am

    RT @rsmccain: Wow, @wombat_socho’s burger post is very popular!

  29. scarymatt
    November 22nd, 2013 @ 7:06 am

    If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend Fatburger. There were a couple that I used to frequent in SoCal.

  30. RS
    November 22nd, 2013 @ 11:13 am

    You don’t want information. You don’t want definitions, you don’t want investigative reports, analyses, nothing.

    You want to play agribusiness trolling on McCain’s blog. You like to torture animals and make excuses for yourself, I don’t. You don’t admit it, but it’s clear that’s your game.

    Actually, I have more “hands on” experience in agriculture than you know. I’ve also spent time with/helping people who are hungry. The crusade you’re on is typical of people who can afford to dismiss the dirty business of life. It’s a typical first world psychosis, similar to the the so-called environmentalists who speak glowingly of “carbon offsets” in homes which use 40Kwh of coal generated electricity per day, or decry hunting between mouths of fois gras.

    And your ad hominem hissy-fit accusation about me liking torturing animals and “trolling” TOC is indeed rich, given the fact that you trotted in here and proceeded to accuse all and sundry of “torture” and “perversion,” and have refused to respond to arguments contra to your position beyond appeals to a single authority, whose authority is in dispute, and dismissive “let them eat cake” responses to legitimate concerns about feeding hungry people. Before deploying your sanctimony, perhaps you should spend some time with people who suffer from malnutrition, it’s quite an eye-opener.

    You will note my first comment to you was respectful and measured. It offered a opposing perspective your dogmatic perspective. You were the one to escalate matters with your ad hominem attacks, not me.

  31. Alessandra
    November 22nd, 2013 @ 11:52 am

    You asked for definitions and information. When I pointed you to what I think is a very good source – an expert source – because you went on and on complaining that I wasn’t an expert – as I quite earnestly admitted, but which doesn’t make me wrong at all – you went on and on with your ridiculous strawmen claims regarding the little I felt like replying to you INSTEAD OF GOING TO READ IN-DEPTH INFORMATION AND ANALYSIS which shows how wrong you are.

    So then I realized you don’t want definitions nor information. And you are not going to read any, any, any book. Ignorance is bliss, isn’t it?

    This is called trolling. Asking for evidence and then refusing to go read the evidence is what trolls do. And that’s why my tone changed.

    I wasn’t even going to reply anything, just give you the reference of the book, because I knew you would then get on your little soapbox instead of educating yourself by reading.
    See, I should have followed the little angel sitting on my shoulder telling me just that.

    You think I couldn’t spend pages on this back and forth – I have other things to do that take priority. Although when you started putting out your laundry list of stupid claims, I did get tempted. Back to my priorities.

  32. RS
    November 22nd, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

    I’ve read countless arguments of a similar vein over many decades, including your cited work when it first appeared years ago.

    And as I’ve intimated, I have “hands on” experience. I could describe it in detail, but as I indicated, it’s a messy business. You don’t like it. Fine. I’m not forcing you to eat chicken, or beef, or pork. I don’t care. However, I object to your blanket accusations of “perversion,” cast at good people in agriculture, which includes numerous members of my family, whose only “crime” is efficiently producing affordable food for others, both here and abroad, not to mention the gratuitous reference to torturing cats. Such a response, instead of dealing with the implications your strident attempt to impose morality upon something as prosaic and amoral as eating a hamburger or chicken sandwich, is not only tedious, it is naive in the extreme.

  33. MMinCC
    November 22nd, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

    Anyone that eats any of that crap is nuts

  34. scarymatt
    November 22nd, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

    Won’t someone think of the carrots?!

  35. Wombat_socho
    November 22nd, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

    Thanks for your opinion. Now fuck right off, mate.

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    […] Hey – Maybe It’s Just A Sandwich […]