Yesterday I temporarily existed on a plane of purple and gold bewilderment after having read the headline, “San Francisco Cracks Down on Happy Meals and Their Ilk.” It didn’t make sense because it conjured images of burly men in shiny black boots slapping food and toys out of the hands of crying children before setting the restaurant and all of its patrons aflame. While nothing quite that epic is taking place, it is still important that people realize this is another example of the right people making just enough noise to solve a problem that does not actually exist. As a spindly American, I am well aware that I am in the minority because we are, by and large, a rather plumped-out nation. Consider how many hours of stock footage of ample bellies and saggy rears the news has aired during “special reports” since you have been alive. If you stacked those tapes ontop of each other, I bet they could touch the moon. According to this footage, there are headless fat people everywhere and we aren’t doing a damn thing about it. Those segments teach us that Americans are too fat and that you should feel badly about yourself if you happen to be a person of the portly persuasion. The fact that they never show faces almost makes it seem like fatness is some sort of horrific plague creeping across the country and killing our children. I actually think they’ve used those very words before and, frankly, it’s a pretty effective way of dehumanizing a large group of people (double-entendre). While I cannot endorse being unhealthily obese, I’m not about to go on some sort of insane crusade to eliminate grease and sugar from the universe. I complained when states started to outlaw smoking indoors and jokingly suggested that it was only a matter of time before they outlawed cheeseburgers and ice-cream but I could never foresee just how closely it seems like that is the direction in which we are heading. Maybe it is just a matter of time before the food gestapo starts going door to door and we have to hide our salt and butter in the attic like a delicious Anne Frank.
We should be responsible for our own food intake and, by extension, the intakes of our children. You can eat a cheeseburger and not weigh six-hudred pounds, I’ve seen it happen. While it would make the world substantially more interesting, his isn’t a Hansel and Gretel situation where someone is intentionally trying to fatten us up so that we might later be eaten. Those kids only went hog-wild on that candy house because they were lost, starving and had parents that didn’t love them anymore. Maybe if more parents loved more children people wouldn’t think they needed to get the government involved in raising them. I still think that establishing some form of authority in the household and encouraging children to be somewhat responsible is the best way to avoid problems. It’s not as if children have become so clever that parents can no longer refuse them anything. Even if that was the case, kids are too small to effectively defend against a beating but that’s rarely ever necessary. I’ve seen a lot of young kids try to employ their specific brand of cunning and it’s usually pretty sad. I can recall with some clarity what it was like to be eight and my dad always seemed to have the upper hand.
There is just no way to defend against pure dadsmanship like that. When I was a kid, I was told repeatedly to not fart around and sleep in the bed that I had made by my parents. It took me several years but I eventually found out that those phrases are not just to be taken literally. I have to wonder what everyone else’s parents have told them because it would appear that we are living in an age where nobody wants to take ownership for what they do or how they feel. I’m sure it’s nice to have an excuse for almost anything and successfully shirk responsibilities or defer them to someone else, but where does that leave humanity? No where I would want to be. By blaming others you strip yourself of the ability to evolve as a person and partially cheat yourself out of any legitimate triumphs. Go ahead and outsource your own choices but don’t insist the same goes for everyone else because I would still like some free will. If people are really worried about the rest of the world’s health, why does nobody seem concerned with the ridiculous side-effects on on prescription medicine. There are much worse things that we put into our bodies than alcohol, smoke and greasy food. I have read warnings on medicine that sincerely makes me want to avoid taking it and just stick it out with the headache, virus or horrific bacteria. There is a portion of every year where I am obligated to take an allergy medicine that creates muscle aches as a side-effect or else suffer though itchy-eyed blindness and suffocation for three months. There is weight control medicine that causes you to lose bowl control, this drug Mirapex that encourages compulsive behaviors with narcolepsy and antidepressants that can create dangerous hallucinations. I’ve even seen antibiotics that can change your urine all sorts of crazy colors.
Do people not realize that, by trying to create a perfect world, they are screwing it up? Paradise is different for everyone and we all need the freedom to make our own choices and mistakes so we can grow as human beings. Where is all of this prohibition going to take us? What is the desired outcome and will it be worth it? All of this banning and regulation leaves me with more questions than answers and an underlying feeling of pessimism.
A very good post Mr Posky *averts eyes from toilet pic*
I weigh 50kgs and enjoy cheese burgers often :D
Metric system, eh? Well then, I am very happy that you manage to stay fit and healthy OR very sorry you can’t control yourself and have suffered for it.
Yes, indeed! “We” use metric over here! I’m a mere 104kgs and I rarely eat cheeseburgers anymore, now I have chocolates to blame for me not losing the last 5kgs so that I can be on my ideal weight.
Cin, one comment about the toilet pic.
The top down perspective is well captured! Give credit where credit is due! *smile*
My favorite is the medicine they prescribe on TV for “restless leg syndrome”. First off, I didn’t even know there was such a syndrome. I thought my mind got restless…I never really worried about my legs falling suit.
So there is this pill you can take for “restless leg syndrome” but, for some strange reason, the man in the ad, while talking very quickly about side effects, says, “People who take [pill for restless leg syndrome] may find they have an increased desire to gamble.”
Now, the last time I felt restless, the last thing on my mind was to take my restless brain/legs to Atlantic City. Vegas would be an even greater stretch or walk.
I don’t know what the correlation between gambling and restless legs might be, but I do know that I would never take a pill that might make me want to go out and gamble the few bits of life’s savings that I have. I’d rather let my legs wander as they will, if they get to that point.
Unfortunately I suffer from restless leg syndrome and it’s horrible. It will keep you awake for hours!
Whatever that medication is it may be related to a Parkinson’s drug that also has the side effect of making people gamble. Weird isn’t it?
Not if these people banded together and decided that they were all going to use the same excuse to get out of paying debts.
I agree completely. Laws should protect people from harming each other, not protect people from harming themselves. If you’re trying to protect someone from themselves, then you’re deciding their values for them, which is of course rather tyrannical.
And yes, rifampin and nitrofurantoin can turn your urine crazy colors. I just happen to be studying them for a test tomorrow, and thanks to you, I’ll now remember them. Of course I’m sure I’ll forget a dozen other things for taking the time to read this and comment. But oh well. If we outlaw unhealthy behavior, we won’t need physicians because no one will ever get sick and die, right?
I’m very glad to hear I could help but sorry to hear that you’ll eventually lose all of that hard earned knowledge.
Do you think that’s the end goal? Immorality? If that IS it, count me out.
Absolutely right. If the government is going to “crack down” on anything, it should be advertising for all this junk.
My favorite ads are the ones that have to go back and apologize to all the people that got sick or hurt because of the prescription medicine.
I also like retro fast food commercials where they showed either a heartfelt family dinner or friends having the best time. Did you know that Burger King actually used to host break dance competitions in the 1980s?
You do now.
You did a pretty good job on the drawing of the toilet, the view from above perspective is well-executed.
In my mind’s eye I picture a black car drawing up to the kerb and grabbing someone …
“You were found consuming a happy meal …” The door slams shut and he is removed from the face of the earth …
I’m not convinced we’re all that far away from it.
Also thanks for the kudos on my ink. I’ve been over a few toilets in my day and knew what was what.
u know what i hear often in tv and documentaries about fatty boombas??
“i give my kids whatever they want and let them do watever they want because i dont want them to go through what my parents put me through”
hence we have unruly, undisciplined adults and children who cannot control themselves.
fine let them eat watever they want…and let them reduce the surplus population!
Yeah, I’m told that obesity killing people faster than smoking. That seems amazing since you can actually start to feel yourself dying after you smoke for a few years.
Was that a toilet or a satellite photo of Newark? Is a double entendere a super-sized meal in Paris or Barcelona? On a serious side, the average weight for 11th grade girls in my classes was 200 pounds! A third weighed less but most significant was a third weighed more! The were in such denial, they felt that $100 hair do, sexy clothes(a bikini on a cow?) and jewelry made a difference in remaining attractive. Serious future health problems here and certainly big med bills and diminished life expectancy in future.
Carl, I’m loving those one liners.
However, you bummed me out with the news of those severely unhealthy women. I hope they get things turned around.
Insightful, entertaining, and cleverly to the point. Need I say more?
No… but, I wouldn’t stop you if you did.
Great post, Posky. I agree with you about personal responsibility and accountability. No-one forces junk food down anyone’s throat.
And I love your example of “pure dadsmanship” – brilliant!
I have a thing with how weird the father and son relationship is. I think the role of dads is bizarre in itself. I hope you feel the same way and can laugh at it.
I’m getting fed up with paternalism too . . . asking the government to step in because parents are too lazy, ignorant, or irresponsible to raise their own kids:
Love Ben’s comment: “Laws should protect people from harming each other, not protect people from harming themselves.”
Thanks for a great post. Now, go clean your room, young man!!! ;)
Thanks for the links, N, and I couldn’t agree more with Ben.
Good post. Personal responsibility and moderation are key. But we do need education. A lot of people have absolutely no idea what they are shoving into their mouths. And advertising targeted at kids is often irresponsible. Like anything, there is more than one cause and it takes more than one avenue to effect a solution.
1. Parents should educate themselves.
2. Parents should educate their kids.
3. Parents should turn off the TV.
The critical word here: SHOULD.
The reality is: DON’T.
I think people have to be, at least, a little aware of calorie content and fat and grease- especially when it comes to fast-food. However, everyone could use a little bit more information. I would also like to see them share it and turn off the TVs a little more frequently too.
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Very, very well (and wittily) said, Posky. I agree with you on all points.
I do have one argument to add, though. I listen to NPR a lot on my way to work, and will never forget a segment from 3 or 4 years ago, where the interviewee had completed a years-long study of impoverished homes and determined that, in many cases, the $1 menu at McDonalds and Wendy’s and the cheap-o vending machines around town were the only way some families could afford any nourishment at all. I know this first hand: Having served as a Big Sister in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program for a few years, my Little’s father was constantly out of work, and his children were hungry. He gave her $14 to feed herself each week, and she supplemented that income with babysitting jobs here and there. So? Big Mac and fries for for lunch, Big Mac and fries for dinner. And yes, she was obese, or on her way there.
It all points back to your main argument: Better parenting = a healthier nation.
I’m not sure if I ever have a point… it just seems that way a lot of the time, doesn’t it?
That’s interesting and a bit sad about your Little. I’ve done a budget of ten bucks a week for food and I could tell that I was not getting nearly enough nutrition without being very careful with my purchases. It’s just too easy to save money, time and thought by going with the dollar menu at fast food places. In a way they are a blessing while also being a curse.
“it would appear that we are living in an age where nobody wants to take ownership for what they do or how they feel” — amen…and dammit!
My crush for you is renewed after reading this post. Do you edit this or does it come straight out of your brain this way? Either way, I love the way you think.
I usually spend a good chunk of my day thinking about something until I get the drive to write about it. So I’ve already prepared what I want to write and there isn’t much need to edit. Sometimes I’ll go back over something a couple of times or rearrange the paragraph order but, usually, I just write and hope it ends up being coherent.
Hi Posky, I come from Raincoaster and if I had seen the toilet picture before reading what you wrote, you would have lost me as a reader.. ;) But, by the time I got to the bottom of the page, I had already seen the cute boy with a He-man T-shirt and also read your funny and engaging post.. Now, I can’t resist commenting :) First of all, I was very pleased to read the news about the McD’s ban that was going to get in place.. Because, 1. I simply refuse to give their chicken nuggets after seeing PETA’s McCruetly video about how they handle their chickens in captivity.
2. How much can public rely on self control and self motivation to teach us good eating habits? If it is readily accessible, and a couple of bucks, and would guarantee not getting down from my car, and imagine the blessings of not spending hours cooking, I might SOMETIMES be blind to the fact that the food that I am buying, is not the healthiest.. :( Maybe because the Ingredients, calorie content etc are not readily available for me to check!! So, I am grateful for some regulations that should be in place.. Here is to hoping that this doesn’t send of a message that I am an irresponsible mother! :)
do you mean to tell me those nuggets actually contain chicken??????
They’re actually puréed chicken, Myra.
Heart, I’m glad to hear that not everyone agrees with me. The world would be boring without opinions and discourse. I’ve seen those videos and I hope all of my readers are well aware of how the food they eat is made and what sacrifices are made. While nobody enjoys watching animals being hurt, it’s worth watching those videos so you can have a more active role in what your eating decisions are. Omnivore or Herbivore, you’ll feel more assured either way after seeing those videos. But that wasn’t really my point in this post.
Every individual is different and your opinion is just as valid as mine. I’d like to see information made available, like in NYC, of the food instead of seeing places trying to regulate it or end its very existence. I still feel that people will need to enact self control to truly alleviate this problem entirely because there were obese people thousands of years before the first KFC opened.
P.S. That little boy was me.
Ha ha, yes yes, we need some middle ground here, definitely self control PLUS some regulations to curb corporate interests..
Fantastic post! Although I agree that some regulations should be in place for the greater good, I firmly believe in each and every one’s accountability. McDonald’s might be a couple blocks away, but it doesn’t mean that I need to eat there.
“I still think that establishing some form of authority in the household and encouraging children to be somewhat responsible is the best way to avoid problems.”
I’m glad you heard me out and still held onto your own thoughts an opinions. I always feel like someone really read what I was writing when I hear things like “Although I agree that….”
Like I said in a few other posts, I wish that food information was more readily available and that there are definite quality standards that must be met… but if a person wants to have a 4000 calorie a day diet, that’s not my business.
Well played sir. I may be wrong, but I think there really are jack-booted men taking happy meal toys away from children in the Bay Area. And they are calling it “food justice.” These are the same people who call rioters, “Non-Traditional Shoppers.” Love the drawings.
You’re not wrong, FJ. I saw one of them on Union Street peddling a box of Alvin and The Chipmunks figurines.
You never fail to impress me, Posky. You’re a creative genius.
You guys are either both telling the truth or some the worst lies I have ever read.
I heard about all of this McDonalds crap, but honestly you have some pretty valid points here. It’s not McDonalds that is making kid’s and adult’s fat, it’s the fact that the parents aren’t encouraging kids to make good food choices, and they, like you said, wont take responsibility for their own food intake.
Right, someone HAS to take responsibility and I don’t think its wise to make a society where everyone is responsible EXCEPT the individual.
Excellent post, Posky! Love that you address such a significant issue with such great entertainment :-D
I have to. I’d go mad if I didn’t.
It’s ironic you should mention this. In my early twenties I went from 180 lbs to 300 in four months, as the only food in the small town I was in was McDonald’s. It took me three years to realize I was being a strain on society, so I paid for lipo, plastic surgery and now I manage a hotel and get laid regularly.
Oh, the mid-90s.
This is awesome. I so love your art. My fave is that “NO” one.
Spindly = “in”
I’m not sure spindly is really in.
I also have to confess that I’ve put on like five pounds in the last seven months. If this keeps up, I’ll just be thin by 2011 and who will love me then?
I thought the same thing when I heard about that Happy Meal story, except you said it much more eloquently than it sounded in my head.
Three cheers for Accountability!
I bet it sounded better than you thought.
Amen… your position is also known as Darwinism… culling the herd… ridding the gene pool. Let people make their own decisions and deal with the consequences. The only problem that irks a few of us is that those individuals sometimes DON’T deal with their own consequences. Each of US has to deal with them via taxes or insurance rates. So I say let people feel free to smoke, be unhealthy, or whatever. But don’t raise MY fucking premiums to cover avoidable health problems of other idiots.
It’s like how they raised taxes on smoking to unheard of levels. Why don’t they use some of that money to offset their higher cost of healthcare? I would have been fine with that. Hell, we could even have good social medicine if we did that with enough things.
Great post, Matt!
I can’t STAND that San Fransisco passed this regulation. Why should the GOVERNMENT be allowed to tell me what I can and can’t do with MY OWN children…this chaps my hide.
One more step into the Nanny State.
Don’t get me wrong–I think McD’s is crap food filled with actual CAFO ick…BUT. If I want to take my kids there, in part because they have a toy…well, that’s my choice.
Let me parent.
The government has no place regulating the free market.
Couldn’t agree more, Jane.
Your post reminds me of the movie Demolition Man with Sylvester Stallone. A society that outlawed cussing and violence, controlled the media and all restaraunts merged into one with one menu and NO cheeseburgers. Of course, there’s an underground rebel group….. You can’t force all of society to be a certain way. Everyone evolves in their own time, in their own way. Enjoyed the post!
My biggest complaint is that they didn’t even have real sex, nobody could swear and the potions at that fancy Taco Bell they went to were just too small. I really hope we aren’t heading into that sort of future.
Chalk me up as one more commenter saying this was really well written, and that I totally agree with you. Here’s to free will, and to me eating two doughnuts for dinner — and going to the gym tomorrow. My damn choice.
Thank you for proving that people are capable of living their own lives.
Well written, well thought-out post, sir. I promised myself I would try to comment more on your wonderful posts, so …
I am a spindly fellow, too. My feelings on the nation’s weight problem, and possible regulation thereof, are mixed. My perspective is hopelessly skewed by a naturally good metabolism and a decade-long running habit that has made me more of an athlete than my teenage self would have ever thought to be.
My father is an overweight fellow. I’ve had a conversation or four with him about a change of habit–less fast food, more walking around the neighborhood and so on. And he understands what I’m saying. But then, he’s had a conversation or ten with me about harnessing my talents, not letting my time here or there go to waste … and with time, something became very clear to me:
My dad might ponder his own body image almost every day, but he runs on so much concern–for his livelihood, for the health of his wife, for the well-being of my brother and I–that his weight is the last of his daily priorities. He’s so busy thinking after all of us that exercise may feel, to him, like the selfish activity it sometimes is.
I think, “Let him be. If he wants to make that change, he’ll have a go at it.” And I could help him as he has always offered hand to me for so many other things.
On the other hand: based on what my doctor-wife tells me about the patients she sees and the futile explanations she tries to offer their parents, I’m not entirely convinced that we (collectively) ought to say “hands off” about fat and food. Her efforts to convince a parent that juicy-juice isn’t quite okay for the infant’s bottle all the time doesn’t often take.
We are creatures of tremendous habit, nostalgia and proximity. Our bodies love equilibrium above most else. We often love the foods we loved when we were young. These are double-edged swords. Another is that we’ll usually have what’s around unless we exercise a ferocious willpower to do otherwise. When I was little, I ate well because my grandparents had a garden and loved home-cooking. When I was a teen, I ate terribly because my parents ordered a lot of pizza and loved french fries. If I put whipped cream in the fridge tomorrow, my wife and I will probably use it by Friday–and it’s not like we crave it. It’s right there. When we’re kids, what’s “right there” is what our parents and a school puts there.
Know what I mean?
I’ve much to say about smoking bans and prescription drugs, too, but I’ll simply note that I agree about the ‘rexes.’ Prescription drugs are a mixed bag of help and danger, the long-term effects of which will be hard to discern for generations. IMHO.
Great, great post, Matt. You write well, and you write with an accessibility, wit and brilliance that I can only envy from afar. =)
Not sure I’m with you on the smoking indoors thing but I do agree with the rest. And “pure dadsmanship” is my favorite phrase of the day. ;)
What about the adults (meaning me) who like Happy Meals? I eat fruit for breakfast and salads at dinner specifically so I can have fries for lunch.
It’s not about the toy at all. Ok, maybe it’s a little about the toy.
Great post! Isn’t it strange that people think of ‘prohibition’ as a solution, especially parents? Have we all forgotten what happens when you forbid children or adults for that matter to do something? They get obsessed with doing it, Duh!
And I am right with you on liking a little free will. Actually, I’ll take a large helping of free will. It’s time people take responsibility for their own actions…but like you, I’m a little pessimistic…we humans…we don’t have a great track record with free will.
Ahhh Mr. Posky I am with you. The government ‘step ins’ are out of control. I’m sorry but taking away a toy from a happy meal isn’t going to stop my kids from ordering nuggets and fries when we go to McD’s. It isn’t going to stop kids from being obese. That is the parents fault. The parents that shove this food down their kids throats constantly. I see it everyday with a close friend. Her kids eat shit, one is over weight and it’s not a happy meals fault it is the Mom’s fault because she won’t say no to her kids. We as parents have to grow a backbone and learn to say no to our children when all they want is crap to eat. If they don’t get it at mcd’s they will get it at home. The ban is solving nothing and it’s stupid.
When I read about San Francisco and Happy Meal toys–I wanted to scream, “Grow Up.” We really need government to determine if our kids should be allowed a Happy Meal toy of not…No. No. Say No.
My kid loved Happy Meal toys, and it was only a problem when the promised toy was not available–but not a big problem because I would drive with reckless abandon until the Happy Meal Toy was located–those were the days.
The last line in your post is so true, ” All of this banning and regulation leaves me with more questions than answers and an underlying feeling of pessimism.”
Have read a lot about government intrusion into family life here. When I got custody of my children they made me go here do that, take they children to this and that, and counseling and shrinks. There were not enough hours in a day to comply, do school, cook, wash, doctor, activities. It was although they were setting you up to fail. The judge told me I may be their father but they were HIS children until they were 18. And to his agenda, whether it be the whack jobs of the far left values or the lunatic view of the far right. My values or view were not even considered. But if Dad’s in and out of prison and mom deals crack you hope for government intervention.
Ah the joys of free will and the right to self determination. I say if people want to wallow in grease, tar, nicotene and purple pills–well, that’s their choice. Or as my son says, “Let the herd cull itself.”
Love the illustrations!
I dig some of your comics, saw you left a comment on our site. We’re an up and coming site with daily views of at least 2,500. Depending on season and day of the week they can get pretty high. I think we would be a great format for you to get more exposure, any interest in putting some of your better stuff on our site?
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