February 08, 2008

The McDonald's Girl.

I read this New York Times article about "Voice of McDonald's," an American Idol-like contest for employees of the corporation from around the globe. You can see the finalists' videos here.

And something about it, I don't know, it gets to me.

I'm like sort of in tears here at work and I'm not totally sure why.

I think some of it is Aziah Bolling. She's 20 years old. You can see more of her singing in the NYTimes video under the article. There's just something about the combination of the fast-food corporation, and how badly this young woman wants to win, and the obligatory, "What makes you proud about working for McDonald's?" question. And her parents. I don't know.

I wish her - I wish all of them - luck, and hope.

1 comment:

daftgiraffe said...

I'm totally down with you about how there's something that squicks me out about an Idol-like competition amongst McDonalds employees, particularly the way it's being run.

And i'm going to open up a can of worms here, but I disagree with you that "McDonalds Girl" is a classist song. i feel like in order to identify the song as classist, you've got to imbue it with subtext that isn't there. it's not funny because it's mean-spiritedly and sarcastically implying that people who work at McDonalds can't be beautiful and desirable. it creates a sweet narrator character (he's a teenage kid who plays softball!) who is sincerely into this cute girl. what's funny is that he's describing McDonalds, the site of this obsessive adolescent crush, in these absurdly poetic terms, when it's just not a poetic or beautiful place. it's not *shameful* for that reason - it's just silly. there's absolutely nothing overt or covert in the song that in any way implies that the humor comes from poking fun at the McDonalds girl for being employed at a McDonalds. The juxtaposition of describing someone as "an angel in a polyester uniform" is funny because polyester doesn't lend itself to making the wearer seem angelic. in some ways, i actually find that line kind of sweet and a bit of a small protest against the stigma - polyester can't hide her beauty from the guy who really loves her.

as to the dins' interpretation of it, i can see where you're coming from, but i'm still going to disagree. yes, they're a bunch of college dudes in tails, which, as an image, has its own problematic cultural history and totally evokes classism and patriarchy by itself - i'm with you there. but in this specific case, i don't think that they intend to derive the humor of their version of the song from the dissonance of tails(i.e. classy)+McDonalds(i.e. classless! har har poor people are funny!). i've seen them perform it a bunch of times, and it really seems like what's funny is the dissonance of the soloist's din persona with the persona of this narrator - they're college men in tails (association: dignified! mature! masculine!), he's a tenor high school boy who plays softball (association: grubby, immature, kind of a geekwad). it's not funny because they would NEVER go to a place as base and classless as McDonalds - it's funny because they're not a geeky sixteen-year-old in a suburban softball league who happens to go to his local McD's after practice.