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The Values Of American Society (From A Fast Food Perspective)

1319 words - 5 pages

In the book "Fast Food Nation", America's infatuation with fast food is described in striking detail. Also mentioned in this work are the values embodied by the fast food industry: conformity, affordability, convenience, and materialism. Interestingly enough these values are not limited to the fast food industry, but can be found in various other areas of American culture such as music, art, or literature. The following paper will focus on the media in particular, and will discuss and analyze how each of the previously mentioned values is portrayed in that area.Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation, mentions that one of the traits most valued by fast food franchises and their customers is conformity. This stems from the customers' preference for the familiar and their reluctance to try the unknown. To a customer, nothing is more important than knowing that the Big Mac he buys in Tokyo will taste exactly the same as one bought in New York. A similar trend can be seen in the media, specifically the entertainment sector. Producers repeatedly use the same themes in their shows and display a reluctance to support programs which they perceive as deviating from the mainstream genres. Thus, today's sitcoms are plagued with predictable devices such as the dysfunctional family or the eccentric best friend/relative/neighbor (i.e. Kramer from Seinfeld). New shows that do make it to airtime are either spin-offs of older, successful shows or are basically rehashed versions of existing ones but under a different name. Examples of this are the shows Friends and Joey, or CSI: Miami and CSI: New York. Of course, this isn't to say that the television industry never has any new shows. Once in awhile it might churn out a truly innovative new type of program. Even in this respect it is similar to the fast food industry, where a franchise might occasionally introduce a new product every year or so. If this product sells well, then it is kept on the menu; otherwise it is discarded along with all the past rejects. In the same way, television producers will experiment with new types of shows whose lifetimes will depend solely on their viewer ratings. Shows that do well are used as a template for later imitations. An obvious example of this is the highly successful Survivor, which paved the way for a whole slew of "reality shows" such as Average Joe, Amazing Race, and Fear Factor.Not surprisingly, one of the most important values of the fast food industry is convenience. After all, these restaurants specialize in the rapid distribution of food, hence the phrase "fast food". In a survey by the Food Surveys Research group, convenience was cited as the most common reason why customers go to fast food restaurants. In fact, customers' convenience is so important that only four years after the first "drive-thru" was introduced, McDonald's had incorporated it into half of their restaurants and it now accounts for half of their revenue ("McDonald's History"). This fact...

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