The Ritual of Fast Food
This paper analyses the excerpt written by Margaret Visser “The ritual of fast food” as a part of her work “The Ritual of Dinners” and answers the question whether the author seems to think the fast food industry is good or bad for ordinary citizens.
It is important to recognize that Visser gives a detailed description of the reasons why fast food restaurants chain is so popular among the ordinary citizen. The word “ordinary” is the milestone of the marketing concept that McDonald’s or Burger King’s marketing managers and ideologists of the fast food eating apply. Moreover, the author underlines that Americans perceive fast food restaurants as a part of their culture, and moreover, it does not matter which country they visit they can always find a piece of their home in McDonalds, Burger King or others.
Visser gives a precise and well-aimed set of qualities that the fast food restaurants visitors expect. They are searching for a place that is “safely predictable, the convenient, the fast and ordinary”. Fast food restaurants are perceived by Americans as a good place, home place where they are sure that there are always smiling and polite workers, where they can find stability and “No Surprises” that is so rarely in the modern hasty world.
Preordained rules are established for programming the default behavior of the fast food networks clients. The emphasis is not put on the peculiarities. On the contrary, each detail beginning with the style of the restaurant, its ornament, menu and workers attitude is usual, familiar and even native.
It is essential to point out that each person is afraid of changes and tries to minimize the unexpected events in his/her life. Margaret Visser contends that fast food marketers staked on the creation of a ritual while visiting the fast food restaurant. Everything from the staff behavior to the standard titles of a standard menu like “Big Mac” or “large fries” are here at their usual place, each day of the year in spite of the weather, political and social upheavals.
It is essential to underline that the author argues that visiting of the fast food restaurant became a ritual in fact, an integral part of daily traditions of ordinary citizens. It is obviously that if fast food restaurants were unpopular among ordinary visitors, they would not gain such a broad network. Therefore, implementing a ritual of visiting fast food is a ruthless politics, calculated to the smallest detail, based on years of marketing researches, considered preferences and expectations. Fast food restaurant is a genial product of marketing strategy supported by the latest technology and millions of research cost.
It is a complex question whether fast food chain is good or bad for Americans. Naturally, if we will not address the issue of health that is rather acute for the American nation, fast food restaurant is perceived as a “home outside a home”. It means that being an ordinary place is a milestone of the success of marketing strategy because people visiting them expect nothing more than things their familiar to – smell, style, taste and parental care from a fast food restaurant workers.
An atmosphere of “we know everything here as at home” is a guarantee that visitors will come back here every time - for typicality, for comfort, for sure, that here in a McDonald's or Burger King there is no place for unexpected changes, everything is familiar, in its place. People in general have a negative attitude to changes, all the new perceived with hostility because it is associated with additional stress and the loss of the comfort zone. It is so much easier and better to visit again the place where you are cared as at home; you do not need to be original, where it is so nice to follow the beaten track.
The author underlines that “convenient, innocent simplicity” of fast food restaurants is only the apparent simplicity. It is an outcome of invisible work of thousands of specialists who keep the regularity of the products fierce and the rituals of serving fast. Parental care is proposed thoroughly, casual environment is supported carefully.
At the same time it could be argued that a fast food restaurant simultaneously with the convenience, familiar menu, no place for surprise is bad for Americans whereas it oversimplifies the culture of food consumption by dulling imagination and transforming a human-researcher into a person who is “wisely processed” by talented marketing minds of huge food corporations.