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

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

July 13, 2020
Gerald Sussman
The Russiagate Spectacle: Season 2?
Ishmael Reed
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Perry Mason Moment
Jack Rasmus
Why the 3rd Quarter US Economic ‘Rebound’ Will Falter
W. T. Whitney
Oil Comes First in Peru, Not Coronavirus Danger, Not Indigenous Rights
Ralph Nader
The Enduring Case for Demanding Trump’s Resignation
Raghav Kaushik – Arun Gupta
On Coronavirus and the Anti-Police-Brutality Uprising
Deborah James
Digital Trade Rules: a Disastrous New Constitution for the Global Economy Written by and for Big Tech
Howard Lisnoff
Remembering the Nuclear Freeze Movement and Its Futility
Sam Pizzigati
Will the Biden-Sanders Economic Task Force Rattle the Rich?
Allen Baker
Trump’s Stance on Foreign College Students Digs US Economic Hole Even Deeper
Binoy Kampmark
The Coronavirus Seal: Victoria’s Borders Close
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Power, Knowledge and Virtue
Weekend Edition
July 10, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Lynnette Grey Bull
Trump’s Postcard to America From the Shrine of Hypocrisy
Anthony DiMaggio
Free Speech Fantasies: the Harper’s Letter and the Myth of American Liberalism
David Yearsley
Morricone: Maestro of Music and Image
Jeffrey St. Clair
“I Could Live With That”: How the CIA Made Afghanistan Safe for the Opium Trade
Rob Urie
Democracy and the Illusion of Choice
Paul Street
Imperial Blind Spots and a Question for Obama
Vijay Prashad
The U.S. and UK are a Wrecking Ball Crew Against the Pillars of Internationalism
Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post and Its Cold War Drums
Richard C. Gross
Trump: Reopen Schools (or Else)
Chris Krupp
Public Lands Under Widespread Attack During Pandemic 
Alda Facio
What Coronavirus Teaches Us About Inequality, Discrimination and the Importance of Caring
Eve Ottenberg
Bounty Tales
Andrew Levine
Silver Linings Ahead?
John Kendall Hawkins
FrankenBob: The Self-Made Dylan
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Deutsche Bank Fined $150 Million for Enabling Jeffrey Epstein; Where’s the Fine Against JPMorgan Chase?
David Rosen
Inequality and the End of the American Dream
Louis Proyect
Harper’s and the Great Cancel Culture Panic
Thom Hartmann
How Billionaires Get Away With Their Big Con
Your 19th COVID Breakdown
Danny Sjursen
Undercover Patriots: Trump, Tulsa, and the Rise of Military Dissent
Charles McKelvey
The Limitations of the New Antiracist Movement
Binoy Kampmark
Netanyahu’s Annexation Drive
Joseph G. Ramsey
An Empire in Points
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
COVID-19 Denialism is Rooted in the Settler Colonial Mindset
Ramzy Baroud
On Israel’s Bizarre Definitions: The West Bank is Already Annexed
Judith Deutsch
Handling Emergency: A Tale of Two Males
Michael Welton
Getting Back to Socialist Principles: Honneth’s Recipe
Dean Baker
Combating the Political Power of the Rich: Wealth Taxes and Seattle Election Vouchers
Jonah Raskin
Edward Sanders: Poetic Pacifist Up Next
Manuel García, Jr.
Carbon Dioxide Uptake by Vegetation After Emissions Shutoff “Now”
Heidi Peltier
The Camo Economy: How Military Contracting Hides Human Costs and Increases Inequality
Ron Jacobs
Strike!, Fifty Years and Counting
Ellen Taylor
The Dark Side of Science: Shooting Barred Owls as Scapegoats for the Ravages of Big Timber