Insane Clown Controversy: Deep Thoughts on the Movement to Retire Ronald McDonald

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Firing a clown isn’t going to end the childhood obesity problem. I actually sorta think that kids are scared of clowns, so the presence of that creepy white-faced clown face may keep them away from McDonald’s. But obviously, based on the recent outcry to get the Golden Arches to stop marketing to kids, there are plenty of people who want to deep-fry Ronald and all the ways children are lured into fast food restaurants.

The best solution, of course, would be to somehow convince today’s overworked, overscheduled families that it’s worthwhile, doable, and wise to prepare home-cooked meals. That option is not only healthier than fast food, it costs much less than eating out as well.

For now anyway, the battleground is over marketing grease and sodium to kids, and the red-haired clown is in the crosshairs. Here are a few of the thoughts on the meaning of Ronald McDonald, from various sides of the battle:

“He’s positioned to be someone that kids can look up to”
— Cheryl Berman, who worked in an ad agency that sculpted Ronald McDonald’s image, quoted in the WSJ

“Ronald is an ambassador for good”
From a statement issued by McDonald’s

“This is all really about choice. It’s about protecting people’s rights in this democratic society that we live in.”
— McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner

“Ronald McDonald is far from an innocent clown.”
— From a report by Corporate Accountability International, which runs

“Ronald McDonald is dangerous—sending insidious messages to young people”
— Dr. Alfred Klinger, M.D., at

“Ronald McDonald is a big fat liability to a company which lures children into eating too much big fat food … It’s like having Joe Camel teach children that they can smoke if only they don’t inhale.”
John Banzhaf, a public interest lawyer who has filed suits to battle smoking and obesity

“Ronald McDonald is clearly not in an economic position to retire just yet, since his only source of income is working at McDonald’s in a clown suit. And if he retires, I will have to pay for his health care, and by all appearances he has some sort of horrifying foot condition.”
— The Washington Post’s Alexandra Petri

“It’s very fake, the whole, like, all his commercials, where he’s jumping up and down, where he’s always happy. You know that no one’s always happy. It’s silly … His whole image is all 1970s and he’s all peppy and his clothes are all baggy.”
— An 11-year-old girl from New York City, quoted in the WSJ

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