Critical Analysis of Propaganda
For the Leap #1 assignment in my class, COM 416 – Propaganda, I will be looking into a piece of artwork that, in my opinion, spoke volumes to the unhealthy and destructive habits of not just our country, but of the entire world.
When looking at the various forms of propaganda that are present in society today, there are reoccurring themes that take place and these themes define what propaganda really is. Although not too specific, the following are some ways to define propaganda (Hobbs):
- Strategic and intentional
- Can be beneficial or harmful
- Aims to influence attitudes, behaviors and opinions
- Uses any means to accomplish its goal
- Taps into our deepest values, fears, hopes and dreams to be successful
On the website called Mind Over Media, there is a plethora of propaganda examples that are prevalent in the contemporary world today. I stumbled upon the above piece of artwork while searching for a form of propaganda to critically analyze. After researching this specific piece, I found that the authors name is Mr. Misang, who is an illustrator that has had many of his works published over the past decade and has received acknowledgments and rewards for his art. If you’re interested, you can find his various projects here. After choosing his piece depicting Ronald McDonald of the McDonald’s franchise, I found that he also made many other works associated with fast food and created a page dedicated to them called “Supersize Them”. In this pieces, Mr. Misang depicts an assembly line process of making McDonalds products, leading up to Ronald McDonald having multiple tubes and apparatuses feeding him these products, ultimately making him obese.
I believe the purpose behind this propaganda is to not only indirectly attack McDonalds, but also insight strong emotions within many people and simplify the idea of how unhealthy fast food is, which are also some of the production techniques used to attract and hold the attention of the viewer. The target audience that Misang was possibly trying to reach would be anyone who eats fast food, and/or is surrounded by it and its influence on a day-to-day basis. This could be catered specifically towards college students who are on a budget and fast food is a quick fix to their hunger, or for those with a low income that cannot afford to dine anywhere too expensive. This subject matter would also interest those who are looking to enter any health-related and nutrition field.
A few persuasive strategies and techniques that are being used in this propaganda include ethical appeal and fear. With ethical appeal, Misang seems to be appealing to the morals and values of people to make them understand and see how bad McDonalds fast food is for you. The strategy of using fear is apparent in this piece as it is using the image of an obese Ronald McDonald to promote the unhealthiness of the food and push the audience towards finding some sort of solution to the problem. Using the well-known symbol of Ronald McDonald contributes to people associating him with the food, which in turn makes people associate him with obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle due to this picture.
I find that this propaganda can only be interpreted one obvious way, and that is that McDonalds is harmful to anyone consuming it and will lead to an unhealthy being. Other people many interpret the message being sent by this illustration as untrue because McDonalds offers healthy options to choose from on their menu. However, are they really all that healthy? Many of the healthier food items and meals offered range from 300-450 calories, have a fat content in grams in double digits, and contain an obscene amount of sodium. Using the nutrition calculator provided by the McDonalds website, an example of this is can be seen below in the Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich and the Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad. These two ‘healthy’ options make up almost half of the calories based on a 2,000 calorie diet and I feel that they aren’t really healthy at all, especially based on the sodium and cholesterol content in just these two items.
Overall, I believe that the image by Mr. Misang qualifies as propaganda because the illustrator is scaring his target audience in believing that if you eat McDonalds, you’re a part of the conveyor belt, you are the one that is next in line in the drive thru, the one who McDonalds can have this impact on in the long run if you continue eating the food. This is a great example of propaganda and I definitely feel that it gets its point across.
Hobbs, R. (2019, January 29). #COM416 Jan 29, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=dMGMI0buy_Y
McDonald’s Nutrition Calculator | McDonald’s. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/about-our-food/nutrition-calculator.html
Misang. (n.d.). MCDONALDS. Retrieved from https://propaganda.mediaeducationlab.com/rate/mcdonalds