Retro Woman with Turkey - © unknown via Pintrest

Burger King Apologises For Creative Ad Campaign

Here we go again. A major corporation has apologised for (and cancelled) a major promotional campaign after knee-jerk activists staged an outcry against the headline the burger giant used to get folks’ attention. Why is it that, so often, such indignation is misplaced? And why can’t we all just work together?

Woman Chef - © deluxe-confidential.comWoman chefs are slowly becoming more common in restaurant and
institutional kitchens. But it’s still largely a man’s world.

Let’s get it over with right off the top: Burger King took out full-page ads in major newspapers and coordinated them with splashes in other media promoting the scholarships it offers annually to promising women chefs. BK had the effrontery to turn the tables on the old (now detested) saying, “Women Belong In The Kitchen” to get readers’ attention. (See photo, top of page: Totally NOT what BK intended!) Instead of reading on into the smaller print as it was intended they should, a lot of Women’s Rights activists jumped up and started yelling that BK was being egregiously misogynistic.

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa, hoss!

Reaction spotlights a fundamental weakness

This is a classic example of how over-hyped reactionary activists deal with issues that reflect on women, people of colour and other minorities.

The central problem is that the outspoken critics go into knee-jerk protest, mode as soon as they hear trigger words or phrases without investigating the context and motivation behind the use of those words. The mere words are considered poisonous.

But this is a huge mistake on the part of the well-meaning protestors. They soon find themselves looking ridiculous, when the actual context in which the words were used and the meaning they were meant to convey is painstakingly explained to them by calmer, wiser types, defusing their arguments.

Here it comes…

This is where the real inequities, unfairness and prejudicial behaviour erupt. Rather than admit they were wrong, didn’t perform due diligence on the the situations that prompted their indignation, or simply showed their own shallowness by taking offence, they rush to condemn.

The activists insist that history doesn’t matter. If something is considered wrong now, it was wrong thirty or forty years ago, when the word(s) in question were used in a completely different way.

What may be worst is, the protestors insist that the simple use of certain words, phrases, or symbols betrays fundamental evil in those who used them. Context be damned; just try to teach a college-level course in discriminatory language these days. You can’t use actual examples for fear of knee-jerk types hounding you out of your job.

How convenient it must be to have your audience accept – without any critical thinking on its own part – the meaning and intent you want to attach to situations!

Is it a simple lack of knowledge?

In some cases, yes. Many people these days, uneducated in the background of issues activists urge them to join in condemning, simply decide, “I’ll be asked to express an opinion on this. I don’t have no time or the tools to do a lot of thinking about it, and I certainly don’t want anybody to think I support anything bad. So, I’ll just go with the mouthy majority.”

In other cases, people have personal stakes in popularizing certain points of view. They feel hurt (and, in some cases, hate) that they have allegedly been discriminated against, held back, or somehow disenfranchised or oppressed by the kind of folks who use certain trigger words or appear to look down upon them.

The worst of the so-called activists are the ones who recruit others to support their particular causes, and secretly benefit personally, monetarily, politically or simply by obtaining enhanced social status (power) by becoming known as ‘leaders’ in their chosen causes. This sort of thing is all too easy to accomplish for those who go into polarized situations with these kinds of goals in mind these days thanks to the proliferation of social media.

What has civilization come to?

Individuals usually walk back their allegedly offensive comments or actions and apologize for them. They (or their sponsors) cancel courses, promotional campaigns or other activities that sparked activists’ outrage, rather than try to fight an ultimately losing battle against the loud, slogan-shouting, self-righteous masses – regardless of how erroneous or misplaced the activists’ rage and disdain may be. Worst of all is, the targets of activists’ rage are denied their protections under the concepts of constitutional democracy, the principle of due-diligence defense, and their fundamental rights under the foundation  guarantees of most modern nations’ Bills of Rights: freedom of speech and the right to be presumed innocent unto proven guilty.

More-pressing issues to address

We have many other, more-pressing, all-encompassing issues to deal at this pivotal point in our history. Can we really afford to waste time, energy and other precious social resources on the shallow, comparatively meaningless issues like those that so often ignite rage in the masses?

Anyone who has read the work of the great 20th-century satirists and ironicists knows the answer to that. Even back in 1898, H.G. Welles knew that it would literally take an invasion from the outside – by Martians! – to unit humankind in a single, momentous cause. How long can we continue to fool ourselves that issues like race, gender and nationality are the worst injustices and inequities we need to address?

I say, set aside the lesser issues, like the usually-groundless or ultimately meaningless causes espoused by today’s social activists, and unite in working to ensure our own future as the leading organisms on our planet. Forget the nonsense over the language used to grab peoples’ attention; let’s just get on with fostering the goal of putting more women into professional chefs’ caps. Everybody needs to eat, and there is a shortage of tens of thousands of pro chefs in North America alone, today. Now, there’s a fundamental issue we can all understand, and all help to address!

~ Maggie J.