The Big Lie
In the dedication to his 1925 book Mein Kampf (My Struggle,) Adolph Hitler uses the term “The Big Lie” to describe the use of a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”
The tactic is in common and widespread use throughout today’s society, but perhaps nowhere as flagrant and flamboyant as Chipotle Mexican Grill’s new “Scarecrow” campaign. The package includes an arcade-style adventure game for Apple’s iOS devices, along with a companion animated short film of the same name. Publicity from Chipotle says “both the game and the film depict a scarecrow’s journey to bring wholesome food back to the people by providing an alternative to the processed food that dominates his world.” And that’s where the lie begins.
Casting their David and Goliath narrative in such noble terms is, to say the least, disingenuous. If Chipotle’s food isn’t processed, then what is it? It certainly isn’t raw.
Chipotle is a public offering on the New York Stock Exchange and, at this writing, is trading for $425.34 a share. The chain touts some 1,500 stores across the country, well short of other fast food chains but hardly a mom and pop taco truck.
Other blogs, like David Hayden’s Farming America have broken down The Lie very effectively, taking the hyperbole apart step by step and countering it with facts. A philosophical examination of the campaign would also seem in order.
“The Scarecrow” is, figuratively and literally, a Straw Man. As to motive, here’s what Wikipedia has to say about a straw man;
“ …a type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and to refute it, without ever having actually refuted the original position. This technique has been used throughout history in polemical debate, particularly in arguments about highly charged, emotional issues.”
So, there we are. Without actually calling it a debate, Chipotle has fired its rhetorical shots across the bow of “Big Ag” and “Big Food” while leaving itself the convenient back door of “hey, it’s just a cartoon – it’s just a game.” The object of cartoons and games should be to create an enjoyable shared experience, but as a popular colloquialism states, “it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.”
The Chipotle campaign is hurtful, and it is apparently intended to be. It’s divisive, demeaning and defamatory. It’s mean-spirited. It’s bullying. It intends to create a commercial advantage, not to address any true greater good.
If that weren’t enough, the company proceeds to rub the consumer’s nose in the disdaining sarcasm by choosing as a soundtrack a remake of the song “Pure Imagination” from the 1971 film classic “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” performed by Fiona Apple. In other words, this IS pure imagination and we think you’re foolish enough to believe it.
There will be the requisite trolls visiting this blog and decrying it as unfair and uninformed. Other blogs have been preyed upon by comments about “knowing” that animal abuse and unsafe foods are “rampant” because they’ve seen the YouTube videos and watched the “documentaries” on Netflix. That’s where their information comes from, so the next logical step for them would be a total buy-in to a campaign created by burrito barons trying to sell more faux-mexican food. All this from a company that touts “food with integrity.”
Unfortunately, animal abuse does exist. No one is denying or excusing that. But just like food safety concerns, they are the exception and not the rule. That’s why those “investigative” video and documentary makers refuse to tell you just how much footage was left on the cutting room floor.
It’s high time someone stood up to the food bullies and called their hand.