(re)defining risk

Wherever you stand on the ‘deed vs breed’ debate, a recent radio ad by McDonalds (listen below) serves as a clear example of how corporate business cashes in on the fears of those who live in the ‘risk society’, while commodifying animals along the way. It argues, with not a hint of irony, that eating a new product (called chicken bites) ‘isn’t risky’, or at least is less risky that petting a pitbull or ‘naming your boy Sue’ – the latter is ‘super risky’, apparently. This claim is somewhat bewildering, seeing as this very company and its products have served at the prime example of the risks faced by contemporary food consumers in both academic and counter-culture literature, and its track record in terms of contributing to the obesity epidemic. Never having had a good relationship with animal rights activists, McDonald’s have been forced to pull the ad, as well as offer a public apology, following severe criticism from dog lovers. (Fewer people seem to have picked up on the gender politics of the ad.)

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