FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Maria Ramirez Story

Maria…I’ve just met a girl named Maria
and suddenly I’ve found
how beautiful a sound can be…

You’ve maybe seen the 30-second McDonald’s commercial. (Find “Maria’s Graduation” on youtube.)

It begins with this young woman—Maria Ramirez is her name, as it happens—sitting in a McDonald’s getting interviewed for the job, shows her clocking in, winning an Employee of the Month award, getting a letter from the company offering her a scholarship (delivered to her high school locker), and ends with her sitting in a college lecture hall getting an exam handed back by a smiling prof.

The ad says nothing about hamburgers and childhood obesity. Nothing about diabetes and cardiovascular disease related to its high-calorie, high-fat menu. Nothing about salt and oil. It doesn’t dwell on what McDonald’s does for a living at all, since everybody knows it anyway.

It just tells us that McDonald’s whatever else it does spends $ 150 million every year on employee college scholarships. (Wow! You could buy eight yachts for that!) It recounts sentimentally the age-old American success story of the immigrant working hard, getting educated, advancing in a land of opportunity. It adds to the Norman Rockwell narrative the nurturing hand of the corporation.

(There are currently between 1.5 and 1.9 U.S. employees of McDonald’s. So there’s around $70-100 per employee in the college fund.)

The subliminal message of the “Maria’s Graduation” ad campaign is: by spending $ 4.79 stuffing your face with your next double quarter-pounder with cheese you help Maria and all those endearing waif-like Marias out there—Latina Marias, Italian Marias, all the haunting Marys in all those Springsteen songs, named after the Holy Virgin Mother of God Herself—to realize their dreams under capitalism.

How much does McDonald’s spend every year advertising its philanthropy, to advertise (and shield) itself? It’s total advertising budget for 2017 was $ 1.5 billion. By my math the employee scholarship fund equals .01% of the advertising expenditures.

A double filet o’ fish meal will cost you $6.79 (and help Maria through Bio 101). Buy one every month and you’ll pay for her subsidy. As you chew, and wipe dripped tartar sauce from your shirt, think about young female Latina empowerment.

Say it loud and there’s music playing
Say it soft and it’s almost like praying
Maria

Slurping your diet Coke to alleviate the tongue-burn from the deliciously toxic fries, think about Maria’s college life. Her problems getting campus housing. Roommate problems. Her first dorm party and fuzzily remembered rape. Her mounting student debt. Her graduation with a degree in a field she loves, but offering no jobs.

Maria goes back to McDonald’s, as a manager and national spokesperson for the company’s efforts to support college education.

I’ll never stop saying Maria!
The most beautiful sound I ever heard…Maria

More articles by:

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
November 18, 2019
Olivia Arigho-Stiles
Protestors Massacred in Post-Coup Bolivia
Ashley Smith
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Macho Camacho: Jeffery R. Webber and Forrest Hylton on the Coup in Bolivia
Robert Fisk
Michael Lynk’s UN Report on Israeli Settlements Speaks the Truth, But the World Refuses to Listen
Ron Jacobs
Stefanik Stands By Her Man and Roger Stone Gets Convicted on All Counts: Impeachment Day Two
John Feffer
The Fall of the Berlin Wall, Shock Therapy and the Rise of Trump
Stephen Cooper
Another Death Penalty Horror: Stark Disparities in Media and Activist Attention
Bill Hatch
A New Silence
Gary Macfarlane
The Future of Wilderness Under Trump: Recreation or Wreckreation?
Laura Flanders
#SayHerName, Impeachment, and a Hawk
Ralph Nader
The Most Impeachable President vs. The Most Hesitant Congress. What Are The Democrats Waiting For?
Robert Koehler
Celebrating Peace: A Work in Progress
Walter Clemens
American Oblivion
Weekend Edition
November 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Meet Ukraine: America’s Newest “Strategic Ally”
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Frankenstein Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ukraine in the Membrane
Jonathan Steele
The OPCW and Douma: Chemical Weapons Watchdog Accused of Evidence-Tampering by Its Own Inspectors
Kathleen Wallace
A Gangster for Capitalism: Next Up, Bolivia
Andrew Levine
Get Trump First, But Then…
Thomas Knapp
Trump’s Democratic Critics Want it Both Ways on Biden, Clinton
Ipek S. Burnett
The United States Needs Citizens Like You, Dreamer
Michael Welton
Fundamentalism as Speechlessness
David Rosen
A Century of Prohibition
Nino Pagliccia
Morales: Bolivia Suffers an Assault on the Power of the People
Dave Lindorff
When an Elected Government Falls in South America, as in Bolivia, Look For a US Role
John Grant
Drones, Guns and Abject Heroes in America
Clark T. Scott
Bolivia and the Loud Silence
Manuel García, Jr.
The Truthiest Reality of Global Warming
Ramzy Baroud
A Lesson for the Palestinian Leadership: Real Reasons behind Israel’s Arrest and Release of Labadi, Mi’ri
Charles McKelvey
The USA “Defends” Its Blockade, and Cuba Responds
Louis Proyect
Noel Ignatiev: Remembering a Comrade and a Friend
John W. Whitehead
Casualties of War: Military Veterans Have Become America’s Walking Wounded
Patrick Bond
As Brazil’s ex-President Lula is Set Free and BRICS Leaders Summit, What Lessons From the Workers Party for Fighting Global Neoliberalism?
Alexandra Early
Labor Opponents of Single Payer Don’t  Speak For Low Wage Union Members
Pete Dolack
Resisting Misleading Narratives About Pacifica Radio
Edward Hunt
It’s Still Not Too Late for Rojava
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Why Aren’t Americans Rising up Like the People of Chile and Lebanon?
Nicolas Lalaguna
Voting on the Future of Life on Earth
Jill Richardson
The EPA’s War on Science Continues
Lawrence Davidson
The Problem of Localized Ethics
Richard Hardigan
Europe’s Shameful Treatment of Refugees: Fire in Greek Camp Highlights Appalling Conditions
Judith Deutsch
Permanent War: the Drive to Emasculate
David Swanson
Why War Deaths Increase After Wars
Raouf Halaby
94 Well-Lived Years and the $27 Traffic Fine
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Coups-for-Green-Energy Added to Wars-For-Oil
Andrea Flynn
What Breast Cancer Taught Me About Health Care
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail