20 thoughts on “The Big Picture: "Arch-Villains"

  1. Adam says:

    I actually heard about this story last week and it just made me sigh. I’m a big personal responsibility guy because I honestly think that’s the only way people ever really learn. If you have no consequences why change the behavior? This reminded me of a story from last year where San Francisco banned fast food restaurants from including toys with their kids meals under the exact same premise. It was a dumb idea then as is blaming Ronald McDonald for child obesity now because both actions won’t change a thing.

    Heck, I don’t even care about the Joe Camel deal. The lying about the cigarette’s effects? Yes, put a stop to that. But Joe Camel never bugged me because I agree with comedian George Carlin’s (R.I.P.) take on it.

    “Kids don’t smoke because a camel in sunglasses tells them to. They smoke for the same reason adults do: to relieve anxiety and depression.”

    I knew tons of smokers in high school. I don’t think many if any of them smoked camel cigarettes, much less could tell you who Joe was. And it’s the same thing in fast food. Ronald and the gang are just part of the image. Take them away and the kids will still want to eat Mickey D’s. After all who’s Taco Bell’s mascot? Or Wendy’s? Last I checked those places were doing fine. Kids will readily eat at those places too and I know none of them care about those dumb Chihuahua commercials or a red haired girl with pigtails.


  2. Matt says:

    I tend to agree with the whole fast food thing. However I do take issue with the fact that Bob (and most of the internet now that I think about it), considers behavioural evolution to abide by the thoroughly debunked Lamarckian program. Get with the times man, Lamarckian inheritance has gone the way of the Dodo.


  3. bigjkt says:

    Co-Sign with Bob, at some point we have to look the parental figure and say Get some balls and tell your kids no every once in awhile. No one seems to want to address that part. Whether we're talking video games, fast food, or movies, it seems parents have to become the ultimate helpless victims incapable of doing anything in the face of the big bad industries out to get their children to eat bad and sit on the couch all day. Madison Ave. doesn't give two shits about kids and they never will that's why parents have to put their foot down and the fast food down.


  4. a.k.a.A.M.V.P says:

    Some pretty weighty subject matter… and yes, I am a little proud of that pun.

    I'm surprised you didn't make a case for the revival of the Hamburgler as a moral counterpoint to Joe Camel, a character designed to demonize rather than advocate the ideal of excessive fast-food indulgence. Reminds me of the recent transformation of the Cookie Monster from lovable pastry enthusiast to health-conscious veggie-muncher. Granted, in retrospect, many of C.M.'s original trademark cookie binges were pretty over the top, and it's not like they were about to re-purpose his character into a Hamburglar-esqe negative example. Then again, I don't really follow the modern Sesame Street continuity (future episode?), so I don't think I'm qualified to pass judgement on C.M. either way.

    P.S.: The security code for posting this comment, “glagre”, sounds a little like something the hamburglar would say, or maybe even the C.M. mid-chomp for that matter.


  5. WilhelmVonHaig says:

    I think the best solution would be to introduce more stringent regulation on what can be put into food. I'm not saying that we ban fastfood or get rid of all the glucose and fat filled treats we love so dearly, but there are ingredients used by fast food chains (and convenience food manufacturers) that are both ridiculously bad for us and do nothing for the flavor of the food, they are simply used to cut costs. Don't ban the cartoon clown, ban the poisenous levels of corn and the phenylanine sources!


  6. 18c96092-8bb8-11e0-a170-000bcdca4d7a says:

    The better question is “why are kids getting fat now more than back in the 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s?”

    McDonalds and other fast food joints have been around for a long time. This isn't anything new, in fact the selections offered at these places have gotten healthier. Back in the 80s, my mom had the cashier replace my happy meal's drink with a milk on the sly. Now it's another choice for a happy meal along with apple slices instead of fries.

    Here's the big reason I feel we have this problem that you briefly touched on: There's no place for kids to go these days and get some exercise. School programs are cutting down on PE.
    Recess activities are becoming verboten like Dodgeball or RUNNING.
    The safety police have gotten rid of jungle gyms, slides with any kind of distance or without speed bumps or other athletic attractions where the poor dears might injure themselves.
    Kids can't really play around outside because either there's too much crime (both real and imagined), the streets are too busy with traffic or the kids are treated as pests and criminals.

    There's very few places for them to bike, skate or run around in without someone making a fuss. Any open areas have been taken up by shopping malls, fancy prefabricated housing, office buildings and parking lots. To top it all off, Homework is getting to be insane where it's a good two-three hours of work for Elementary children.

    To kids, it's just not worth the hassle after the fact, so they stay indoors, watch tv and play video games because we've unintentionally removed almost everything else for them to do.


  7. Dave says:

    Matt: What did Bob say that was wrong? I don't think anything he said about evolution was necessarily Lamarckian, just general stuff like “stupid people have stupid kids” and “natural selection means stupid people die”.

    Anyway, Bob, I wanted to jump for joy when you did that bit about how maybe parents DON'T always “know best” about raising kids. Ugh… nothing makes me more depressed than watching fat, stupid parents bringing up fat, stupid kids. It seems like a vicious cycle of stupidity right now…


  8. Adam says:


    Well, I'd believe that rendition of GL much more than I would Ryan Reynolds. Nothing against Ryan; I just don't see him as the classic superhero type.

    @Big long name of person who talked about kids having nowhere to exercise

    In general you have basically outlined the nightmare circle of why behavior control freaks do nothing but aggravate the rest of us while never acheiving their intended goals. On one hand people rebel and will do what you don't want them to all the more; and on the other hand if you give the behavior controlists an inch they'll take a mile and soon anything deemed remotely hazardous becomes watered down and sanitized to the point of a completely sterilized society.

    It's the basic tenant they just can't accept. If you want to live in a free society some people (sometimes by accident, but usually as a result of their own design) are going to fall through the cracks. It's a basic fact of nature that even we humans can't overcome.


  9. Matt says:

    Dave: The “Stupid people have stupid kids” is very Lamarckian, and moreover that's contradictory to the second statement. If stupid people live long enough in their environment to produce stupid kids, then natural selection has no effect on them. In fact, if obesity is negatively correlated with intelligence (which may or may not have been a point Bob made), and obesity is rising, then it's safe to say that stupid people have been selected in by virtue of intelligent people being selected out.

    But that doesn't address my Lamarckian claim (but rather that Bob's prelude which was obviously not meant to be scientific anyways wasn't exactly 100% with the times), but what does is stupidity being an inherited trait. In the absence of learning disabilities, intelligence is extremely correlated with environmental factors, and not genetic ones. And as such, stupid people having stupid kids is an environmental factor, and so the lack of intellect was “acquired” in the parent's lifetime and passed on via the offspring's environment. Evolution via darwinian natural selection following genetic mutation is not at all in play here, it is pure Lamarckian evolution.

    In general I object to the phrase “stupid people have stupid kids”, and thing it ought to be replaced with “stupid people raise stupid kids”. This reflects the nature of the situation more accurately.

    Having said that, I don't think Bob really made a point to mention evolution for anything other than comedic effect. It's just that the propensity for people to throw in nature in all situations where nurture is more scientifically appropriate is a pet peeve of mine.


  10. Chris Cesarano says:

    I'd say there's a difference between stupidity and foolishness, though the two often go hand in hand.

    But more on topic, I always want to rip my hair out when I see people blaming outside sources for obesity. Nothing pisses me off more than someone getting a Rascal for no other reason than how fat they are. I'm a fat ass, but I'm willing to accept at what point it became MY fault, or my parents genuinely were helpless to stop the situation.

    See, part of it is my mom worked at Burger King for a number of years, and thus the intake of Burger King increased simply because my mom didn't have time to cook AND do the daily household chores. When she started working she became paranoid (she's one of those mothers that believes the imaginary criminal crap about the world) and thus we couldn't play outside until she came home…and by then it was night time and we weren't allowed out anyway.

    For a time I was able to go to my friend's house after school to hang out, but that wasn't always an option. With working parents and siblings that came home at different times, I'd often just stuff 20 chicken nuggets on a microwave plate after school and indulge. At my age, that was WAY too much, but I was a kid. I had no concept of willpower. If my mom had a choice I never would have been in a position where I'd have such irresponsible freedom.

    By time I got to College I was used to over-eating, and that's when I really bloated up. Now it's purely my fault, because though I've been exercising for years, I tend to fall off the wagon. I also never really stopped over-eating, either, so my exercise has just made me a more or less muscular fat man.

    Part of it is parenting, though in an age where parents are working there's only so much control they have over their kids. It isn't ALWAYS their fault.

    At the same time, there ARE options to what they CAN control, and most parents I've observed are just…so BAD at controlling their children. There's a severe lack of wisdom there, certainly.

    But by time you reach a certain age, there's nothing to blame. Not society, not subliminal messages, nothing. The fault is your own willpower.

    That said, for all this “obesity epidemic” I keep hearing about, I STILL feel like I'm one of the only fat people I ever see around. Most fat people I know of are middle-aged, but that hasn't changed since I was a kid. I wonder what we count as obese or fat these days if there is an epidemic.


  11. Phantos says:

    *raises hand*

    Yeah, I'm guilty of enjoying a trip to McDonalds once in a blue moon too. I know it's bad for me. I know there's absolutely no nutritional advantage. But here we are.

    I know it's trash. But it's MY kind of trash!

    That, and I kind of owe McD's my life(long story)… <.<


  12. RocMegamanX says:


    Can I just call you “18”? Anyway, how DO we convince people to bring back P.E. or Recess if the lack of exercise options for kids is a problem?


  13. Benfea says:

    While I can appreciate your arguments, Bob, I think we should not allow advertising to be directed at children ever. I don't care if the product being advertised is good for you or bad for you or anything in between, children simply are not equipped to deal with the advanced psychological techniques advertisers use to warp your decision-making process. Hell, adults are barely equipped to cope with it.

    So, I disagree with both you and the people making the anti-Ronald McDonald argument. McDonald's should not be advertising to children not because McDonald's represents a health threat, but because children should not be advertised to. Ever. At all.


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