Food is for dreaming, it's not reality
McDonald's have admitted doctoring images of their famous burgers used in adverts. What's wrong with that, asks Chris Pople
By Chris Pople 21/06/2012 14:03
The open secret is out: Canadian McDonald's have admitted in their own video that they use photo software to manipulate their adverts.
Going viral all over the interwebs this week is McDonald’s stunning 'admission' that the burgers in their ads look better than they do in real life.
Apparently, they are in the habit of using – gasp! – food stylists and – shock! – a little-known piece of computer trickery called Photoshop to cleverly disguise the uncomfortable truth that the quarter pounder you order may not, in fact, arrive bathed in heavenly light and slowly rotating on a pedestal, but instead is usually presented welded with cheese to the side of a cardboard box and gently glowing with grease.
"If we were that demanding of culinary perfection, we wouldn’t be eating at McDonald’s."
Well, you could knock me down with a Chicken McNugget™. Since when has any sentient multi-cellular organism ever expected the food on their plate in a restaurant or kebab shop or prison canteen to look the same as it does in the publicity shots?
I don’t see queues of people returning their Big Macs because the sad, squished item on their plastic tray, thrown together in seconds by an uninterested teenager, doesn’t match the preened, perfected shot on the backlit menu. Really, guys, we get it.
If we were that demanding of culinary perfection, we wouldn’t be eating at McDonald’s.
"The reality of eating out is often a disappointment, so what’s wrong with buying into some corporate puffery to get you in the mood beforehand?"
It’s ironic that I should be fighting the corner for culinary propaganda when, as a food blogger, I regularly expose the grim reality of restaurant dining with unspeakably awful shots of whatever lands on the table in front of me.
But a restaurant blog exists to critique, to inform and to entertain, and there’s nothing more entertaining than a grainy iPhone picture of a chicken with its legs in the air. A restaurant, though, must present an idealised version of their product, nipped and tucked and properly lit, to build an appetite and persuade us to open our wallets.
Food photography is an art and requires great skill; most of the shots on my blog manage to make the greatest plate of gastronomic extravagance look like something recently extracted from the waste disposal unit, and that’s the very last thing I’d want to see on a menu. The reality of eating out is often a disappointment, so what’s wrong with buying into some corporate puffery to get you in the mood beforehand? We can dream, can’t we?
So, keep on lying to us, then, McDonald’s. We’re big boys and girls, we can take it. And to all the food stylists and Photoshop artists and marketeers out there – we know what you’re up to and we don’t care. Now, who’s for a Big Mac?
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