All I ask…

“All I ask is that you let me feel my way.”

Kaitlyn Tiffany, a writer for vox.com, is the reason I know about the new Burger King ad campaign. Take a look.    It opens with a black guy sitting on the edge of his bed making, in a gently cadenced way, a complaint that ends, “All I ask is that you let me feel my way.”

Kaitlyn Tiffany says that is a play on the long-time Burger King slogan, “Have it your way,” but I know what “have it your way” means and I know who it is addressed to.  That is not what this guy means by it.   He’s not talking about which condiments he wants on his aliment. [2]  What is he talking about?

BK 1

Well…before we rush to judgment, let’s look at the five other characters.  Next up is a high school girl who comes to her locker and finds “SKANK” written on the door.  After that, there is the business woman who just got fired and is leaving with “her box,” calling her boss a “bleep” and throwing papers up into the air.  Then there is the guy who is deeply in debt and foresees never leaving his parents’ home.  And then the young man who just got “ghosted:”[3] and imagines that he will live his life alone.  And then the very young woman [4] carrying an infant down the street and complaining that “they” say she is too young to raise a child and proceeds to tell “them” to take their opinion and “suck it.” [5]

  • The first thing that catches my eye is that all these people are victims.  They have been done to.  That is the first thing them have in common.
  • The second thing is that they are asking to be given some latitude either to recover—depressed, indebted, and ghosted—or to respond with anger or disdain. [6]
  • The third is that no constructive action is imagined by any of these characters.  It is not what they do to make something better—anything better—but how they express their unhappiness.
  • A fourth is that there is no social dimension to these at all, with the partial exception of the indebted character who gets to share a milkshake.  No one of these characters is asking for any help at all—only “room” to, as the depressed guy puts it, “feel my way.”

But I think that “feel my way…” leaves off the destination.  Feel my way back, maybe?  The first line of the ad is him looking downcast and saying, “Not everybody wakes up happy.  Sometimes you feel sad, scared, crabby.  All I ask is that you let me feel my way.” So “feel my way back” would be from sadness to…oh…equanimity maybe or happiness.  It would be from scared to something like competent or confident.  It would be from crabby to even-tempered or pleasant.  Every “feel my way” needs to be a “feel my way back to.”  Otherwise, who is he asking for “room” and how much room is he asking for?

For the guy who just isn’t happy this morning, it is plausible to imagine that he is saying that he’ll be fine; just give him time to adjust to the day.  Maybe have an Unhappy Meal or two.  He is the only one that really works for.

And especially it doesn’t work for the young woman who is planing to raise her infant daughter alone.  Statistically speaking, things are not at all likely to be “fine” for her or for her daughter.  Having a lot of “them” let her “feel her way” is not going to solve the problem, particularly if 40% of births—a widely used number— are now outside marriages.

So I get Burger King’s poking fun at the Happy Meals.  I think it’s kind of funny, at least in principle.  But the chorus of victims demanding that “they” back off really isn’t going to solve anyone’s problem.  Except, of course, Burger King’s.

[1]  She covers “consumer technology and internet culture” at Vox.  How is that for a specialty?

[2]  I owe that word to my brother Karl.  When I asked him what it meant, he said it is what you put the condiments on—an explanation I have treasured for years especially for its economy.

[3]  Dictionary.com defines ghosting as “the practice of suddenly ending all contact with a person without explanation, especially in a romantic relationship.” …

[4]  She looks about 14 to me.  Bette says maybe 17—20.  I say the makeup and the clothes are meant to suggest a younger woman.

[5]  I’m not up on the language of young people, but I’d guess that’s euphemism for “stuff it,” the site of said stuffing to be understood.

[6]  What I am calling here “disdain” is expressed in the special DGAF—which I has to look up—meals.  It stands for Don’t Give a F***, which everyone under the age of 30 already knew.  I’m staying with “disdain.”

About hessd

Here is all you need to know to follow this blog. I am an old man and I love to think about why we say the things we do. I've taught at the elementary, secondary, collegiate, and doctoral levels. I don't think one is easier than another. They are hard in different ways. I have taught political science for a long time and have practiced politics in and around the Oregon Legislature. I don't think one is easier than another. They are hard in different ways. My wife, Bette, is the First Reader (FR) of the posts. I have arranged that partly because she helps me write better posts than I would otherwise and partly because I can hold her responsible for the mistakes that I would, otherwise, have to own up to myself.. You'll be seeing a lot about my favorite topics here. There will be religious reflections (I'm a Christian) and political reflections (I'm a Democrat) and a good deal of whimsey. I'm a dilettante.
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