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The Impact Of Mcdonalds In East Asia

1668 words - 7 pages

Ever since I could remember, my mother would take me to McDonald’s after she picked me up from day-care. It happened about once a week and I was always so excited. Part of the reason was because it was the only place where I knew I could go run around in the playhouse, while eating a Happy Meal, which indeed came with a toy. Not only did it make me happy, but my mom was able to do some work since I was so engaged with the “McDonald’s experience.”
In Golden Arches East, James L. Watson investigates how the McDonald’s culture of fast food appeals to people in the cities of East Asia, particularly with how the company connects with American culture. Watson focuses on key concepts when visiting each place, including localization of America in Beijing, food choices, identity and nationalism in Seoul, and changing manners and etiquette in Tokyo. Each city has a different aspect and attitude about McDonald’s that is determined by gender, age, and wealth of people. McDonald’s started the globalization of fast food across the world, in which cultural transformations and a new trend have arisen but has kept indigenous culture intact.
Before McDonald’s expanded into East Asia, many people only heard of the big golden arches but once the corporation settled in, cultural transformations took place. As weird as it may sound, table manners were one aspect of eating that changed because of the fast food environment. In Tokyo, McDonald’s impacted the taboo against eating with one’s hand, standing while eating, and how to eat ice cream (Watson 178). With that said, McDonald’s brought in a totally different way of eating for these people. They weren’t used to putting their hands directly on the food they were about to eat or lick ice cream with their tongues instead of using a spoon. McDonald’s brought this new etiquette to Japan and it took time for people to adjust but overtime people adapted to the change. Another example of how table manners changed was in Beijing. “In 1992 and 1993 customers in Beijing usually left all their rubbish on the table, letting the restaurant employees do the cleanup work” (Watson 52). Once McDonald’s came into the picture and they realized it was not a formal restaurant, customers started to clean up after themselves. Not only did table etiquette transform but also the child aspect of the golden arches increased in popularity. In these Eastern Asian cities, McDonald’s promotes heavily on personal interactions with customers, which is why they have “Aunt” or “Uncle McDonald.” This received a ton of attention from the children who would come in to eat. The children feel special, as if they will always have a friend to talk to when they go to McDonald’s. “To millions of children who watch Chinese television, “Uncle McDonald” (alias Ronald) is probably more familiar than the mythical characters of Chinese folklore” (Watson 10). It is evident that this image of “Uncle McDonald” is directly related to children wanting to go to...

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