Columns

2010.06.03 No kidding - Cartoon characters are not real

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

No kidding-Cartoon characters are not real


BY RICH FOLEY

I guess some people out there have trouble separating real life from fantasy. Otherwise, why would anyone bring cartoon character Dora the Explorer into the debate over Arizona’s new immigration law? No matter where you stand on immigration, it is clear that Dora is only a cartoon, isn’t it? Apparently not to a lot of folks.

According to a recent Associated Press story, those on one side of the issue see Dora as a friendly, likable person we can all relate to. The other side notes that Dora’s birthplace, citizenship and immigration status have never been made clear.

Some believe that her home is obviously in Mexico, while others insist that her iguana and monkey pals could just as easily place her in south Florida.

So far, representatives from Nickelodeon have refused to comment on Dora’s background.  It’s too bad they just didn’t tell everyone to get a life. How about a statement along the lines of, “Get serious, folks! Dora is not a person, she’s a cartoon! She has no immigration status because she’s not real! She doesn’t care about this or any other real life issue because she doesn’t really exist! Is that too hard of a concept to grasp?”

What’s next for these people? Wondering what the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles think about the oil crisis in the Gulf of Mexico? After all, they are turtles. Surely, they must have some special knowledge about the subject. And what about the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers? Couldn’t they do something to stem the flow of oil? Why hasn’t President Obama asked then to step in? And where is Ronald McDonald during all of this? Wait, here’s another story. It turns out Ronald has his own fish to fry, so to speak.

Apparently, there are critics out there who think the clownish corporate symbol promotes bad eating habits and “should go the way of the Marlboro Man and Joe Camel.” Retired physician Alfred Klinger told the AP that “Ronald McDonald is a pied piper drawing youngsters all over the world to food that is high in fat, sodium and calories.”

McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner defended the clown as a “force for good” before a group of shareholders, adding, “He communicates effectively with children and families around balanced, active lifestyles. He does not hawk food.” Are you laughing yet?

Actually, in a roundabout way, I kind of agree with Skinner. Not so much about the balanced, active lifestyles part, but about the imaginary clown being a hawker of food.

I’ve probably eaten more than my share of the clown’s offerings over the years, but it was never about the clown. I don’t really care for clowns, not even a little. No, eating at McDonald’s was more because of price, convenience, and, when I was younger, those awesome Happy Meal toys. Heck, I’d buy a Happy Meal today if it had one of those cool Hot Wheels cars with it. Ronald the clown? I don’t really care.

I don’t suppose that helps McDonald’s case any. But even I find Ronald less objectionable than Burger King’s super creepy King. And their toys are lousy besides. That still doesn’t keep me away from the occasional Whopper. But it might be more than occasional without the King. I don’t think you need an imaginary spokesperson to represent a restaurant. If you don’t believe me, ask KFC.

The chicken chain, which has no symbol other than a representation of their late founder Harlan Sanders, recently announced they would continue sales of their Double Down sandwich, which had been scheduled to end after a brief promotional period. Of course, the Double Down is no ordinary sandwich, at least by the usual definition.

The “sandwich” is a filling of bacon and cheeses, surrounded by two fried chicken filets instead of bread or a bun. Sounds pretty healthy, doesn’t it? Even without a cartoon character’s endorsement, sales have been so brisk, KFC has decided to offer it as long as demand warrants.                                                                                                       

 So let’s sum this all up: First, cartoon characters aren’t real, no matter how badly we might wish they were. Second, the idea that people choose a restaurant based on a cartoon spokesperson is questionable. And third, even if you think Dora the Explorer is real, this isn’t the best time to invite her to Taco Bell.

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