By Lim Woan
Flooded McDonald’s, a 20 minutes’ long video on the slow flooding process of a replicated Mcdonald’s outlet, is an ominous parody of America’s impending doom, perhaps eventually leading to an end-of-the-world apocalypse, packaged in a light-hearted and more relatable manner. McDonald’s is arguably the most well-known epitome of ‘Americanisation’, being a product of pure US origins. Therefore, the comparison drawn between the situation in McDonald’s and the plight of America is highly apt.
The flooded McDonald’s is a reflection of WikiLeaks’ outbreak in America. The slow and gradual leaking of water inside the replicated version of McDonald’s symbolises the leaking of classified information brought about by WikiLeaks. In a sense, the water represents the WikiLeaks data and McDonald’s is an objectification of US citizens.
Initially, the calm leaking appears harmless and insignificant, however it eventually amounts to a serious flooding process overwhelming McDonald’s. This resembles the effects of WikiLeaks on America; what started out as a little mishap of revelation in time became a full-blown matter of concern in many affected countries internationally. The lackadaisical flooding as opposed to a sudden massive gush of flood also parallels how Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ founder, releases the cables in small amounts as leverage instead of bombarding information all at once.
The flood contains traces of McDonald’s commodities. The shots progressively move underwater to capture scenes of these objects floating about, as though submerged within an unknown abyss. This draws our attention to the similarity between the floating chair, cups, misplaced fries and US citizens; they are all ‘lost’ and ‘confused’ amidst the leaking-to-flooding procedure. The murkiness of the water resembles the shady doings of the US government and warns a greater level of despair that might hit America in the future.
The fused electricity circuit in flooded McDonald’s is akin to the loss of public’s trust caused by WikiLeaks in America. The ‘darkening’ of McDonald’s resulting from the short circuit foreshadows a “shadow of doom” that would come over America’s politics. In addition, the electrical tensions are representative of the existing tensions within US as a result of WikiLeaks. There is a paradox surrounding the short circuit. The ‘darkness’ of McDonald’s after the fuse blows reflects the US public in reality gaining knowledge, seeing light, about the actual goings-on of their government and that they were ‘blinded’ before WikiLeaks’ release.
The submerged Best Employee plaque ominously symbolises the ‘sinking’ of America’s reputation as the initially perceived ‘Best’ country. Ronald McDonald is the mascot of the fast-food chain and thus the embodiment of the country. The collapse of his imposing figure is further representative of downfall of US reputation as a ‘Big Brother’ figure.
The consequences of a flooded Mcdonald’s and the large-scale WikiLeaks problem worldwide share many similar parallels. The former becomes a parody of the latter.
A Burnt McDonald’s is symbolic of US’ global warming fate as a result of their rejection of Kyoto Protocol.
Scientists have estimated that the average global temperature will increase significantly. However, despite treacherous warning signs, the US government remains resistant to the importance and urgency of Kyoto Protocol. According to The Quiet Death of the Kyoto Protocol by Samuel Thernstrom, Barack Obama himself has voted to condemn the Protocol and adopted some of former President George W. Bush’s staunchly negative key positions in international climate negotiations, thereby ensuring the Protocol’s expiry.
The rising earth temperature caused by global warming is represented via the heat generated from the burning process. The small flames that start out, which gradually leap across the entire McDonald’s, become a larger detriment when the whole place is ignited ablaze and what remains are simply charred ashes of McDonald’s vendibles. This shows how America is slowly falling prey to global warming and eventually burning up in a ‘hot’ demise which results in dregs of blackened, toasted corpses. The final remnant of burnt McDonald’s is comparable to America becoming a wasteland, the corpses are a personification of McDonald’s combusted wares. Similarly, the Best Employee plaque being set aflame reflects how US’ reputation has literally gone up in flames.
The incinerated McDonald’s represents the destruction of America’s environment. Burnt McDonald’s forebodingly hints at US’ ultimate devastation if she continues to reject efforts to curb global warming and partakes in negative efforts to raise earth temperature.
Frozen McDonald’s parallels America’s plight of Obama installing a three-year freeze on the pay of US public service sector as well as spending on many domestic programmes. In this case, the frozen assets within the replicated McDonald’s are akin to the ‘frozen’ US programmes in reality.
The freezing of McDonald’s into an unmoving and unchanging entity is comparable to the stagnation of US development as a result of the freeze. The sharp icicles that shroud the dustbin, the table, the chair and the cashier machine represent US citizens being ‘frozen’ at a immotile stage due to the freezing of domestic funds. The frosted Ronald McDonald and Best Employee plaque, both serving as representations of America, point towards the direction of an unprogressive US nation due to the freezing of funds.
The coldness inside the frozen McDonald’s also symbolises the ‘cold’ attitudes of Republicans in response to the freeze proposal. “Given Washington Democrats’ unprecedented spending binge, this is like announcing you’re going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest,” Michael Steel, a spokesman for the House Republican leader, publicly mocked the Obama administration’s decision in a ‘cold’ tone. The connotations of ‘unhealthy diet’ in Steel’s statement is further reinforced by the unhealthy diet of fast food (think burgers, fries and soft drinks) within the frozen fast-food store.
Water, Fire, Ice – These three ancient elements encircle the differing fates of McDonald’s, or rather, America. The flooded, burnt and frozen McDonald’s hint at end-of-the-world apocalypses, in a sense, that the destructive occurrence of these ancient elements on the replicated McDonald’s prognosticates the US’ tragic demise in reality. Therefore, the three art works, of which Burnt and Frozen Mcdonald’s are fictional and imaginary, foreshadow the US’ bleak future as a result of its major decisions and actions. A final element of Earth comes into role here. America’s downfall will sequentially bring about worldwide devastation, thus portraying an irony of the elements at work; Water, Fire and Ice have ‘collaborated’ to bring about the catastrophe of Earth.
These art works could be further improved by situating real-life exhibitions beside the projection of videos. The exhibitions of flooded, burnt and frozen Mcdonald’s can be modelled within air-tight glass enclosures so people can watch the entire process through the videos and then view the end results inside these enclosures. Thus, the glass containers will encompass what eventually happens to these replicated McDonald’s after the various elements hit them.
Viewing of these videos and exhibitions will fuel audience’s ‘food for thought’. Viewers are feee to analyse for themselves a comparison of damage. Which mode of destruction is strongest with regard to the replicated McDonald’s? In reality, which source of devastation is worst? How do the flooded, burnt and frozen McDonald’s hint at end-of-the-world apocalypses and bring about the terminal demolishment of Earth?