Thursday, March 17, 2005

On McDonalds in Russia and an Incredible Generalization

The New York Times had a piece about McDonalds' significant real estate holdings in Russia. I know that there is something fantastically interesting about the former USSR having the busiest McDonalds in the world, but I think there is something even more striking about this little passage in the article:
But McDonald's here has been able to avoid some problems that have troubled it in the West.

The "Super Size Me" controversy, and accusations that fast-food chains like McDonald's promote obesity, are not issues for Russians, some of whom demand mayonnaise with 40 percent fat content. Nor does McDonald's low pay seem to bother many here - Russian wages average $250 a month.
When did Moscow's membership in the West lapse? Sure, Europe's eastern boundary is fluid and debated, but not so much so that the Times should be able to get away with such a breezy and unqualified statement.

And speaking about unqualified statements, what's this about Russians not being concerned with obesity? Surely, in all of that vast and exotic eastern Russia, there must be one or two folks watching their weight, right? In fact, I am so certain of this that I am willing to say that I think it would have been better had the article's writer written "most Russians," instead. Of course, given that the reporter brings up the so-called "'Super Size Me' controversy" in the first place is probably indicative of a person prone to over-generalization. (at least I hedged my generalization with a probably!) After all, it seems like the only people who really know or think about this "controversy" are of the more self-satisfied elite class who actually go to documentaries like that. (You know, the type that thinks it is nobler to get fat off of hummus and curry than getting big from Big Macs.) Now that I think about it, I bet that there are probably a lot of folks in the West who might actually enjoy a fattier mayonnaise and who have never even heard of some funny little documentary that showed up primarily in big cities and college towns.


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