This helicopter, my chariot to fields far flung. This portable
broiler, my tank in lands left savage. This battery of cameras, my agents of
posterity — because it’s important first to record, then to broadcast.
It’s crucial to go viral, to get the word out. That’s how we sell, how we
expand. Flagpoles, man. Flagpoles.
And oh yes, Mr. Kipling, I will fill full with meat the
mouth of famine, will suss it out whether asleep on sunny beaches, huddled on
windswept tundra, or hidden beneath a stupid looking hat.
I am not the Golden Arches, no, for they are substandard, not
gilded, only plated, a cruel trick on burger glory spearheaded by a humourless
clown and his band of fattened crazies. Rather, I am the Crown, laden with
grease, and heavy hang the heads I so majestically adorn. Heavy indeed, for my
responsibilities are many.
Opines my art director: “You can never really get an entirely
pure taste test from a group of Americans because they’ve been exposed to so
much marketing and burger culture.”
Says some douche bag in a ball cap, with a little gray goatee,
waxing right deep on the street corner: “The hamburger is a culinary culture.
It’s an American phenomenon.”
Whopper virgins of Romania, of Thailand and Greenland, we of
the first world need to know: Which do you prefer? Is it the Whopper, or the
To Budesti, Romania, where the windows of eligible brides are
labelled with dolls, where one womb bore fame in violist circles, where they
eat weird garbage like borscht, like iskembe and sour soup.
They know not the pleasure of the burger, of sleeves rumpled
around elbows, of the sigh of meat sliding across ketchup, of mayonnaise
slathered on lapels, of dabbing a young one’s snotty lips and distracting him
with a cheap toy. Makes my crown shine, all that.
But first, see them fumble, these ridiculous Romanians, as they
attempt to grip the mighty and brazen burger, that undying icon of Americana.
See them tear at the bun, mishandle the form and cower the potential of a
palate overwhelmed. So much learning, so many people — my work is never
“It took a while for them to understand it,” explains a crew
member, just throwing down insights like Zeus does lightning bolts. “The
dynamics of it are, like, so completely foreign to these cavemen. They must
And on to Thailand, with SUVs, to the mountainous regions
inhabited by the Hmong, to their travesty of gestation, their clothes of cotton
and hemp, all their tireless and tiresome needlework. It’s just another
flagpole. One in a million, really.
Next to Greenland, land of the seal-feasting native, purview of
the Danes (with the gift, of course, of self-governance), home to cold and ice,
to sleighs and dog teams.
A man comes up to us, perhaps lured by his nose. He cuts an
uncertain posture, concern and confusion writ massive in his every mannerism. A
crewmember produces a Whopper, and the packaging crinkles in the cold as if the
whispers of modernity. The man eats.
“Do you like it better than seal meat?” asks a crewmember.
The man looks confused, maybe even aghast. Of course he likes
it better. But dumb pride prevents him from saying as much: “No,” he stammers.
“I prefer seal meat.”
But he’s an anomaly, too old to embrace the new, too antiquated
to understand a drive-thru, probably, even, to drive. Of course, there are
others in his village, and they know an opportunity when they see it.
They say English spreads like a virus. They say entertainment
is the new imperial army, comes with laughter and popcorn.
I say otherwise. I say hail to the king, baby. I say the rivers
of grease are thundering towards every corner of the uncivilized world. And on
the banks of those rivers, a burger joint. A million burger joints. More.
See? It’s simple. Check out the mantra: My diet is your desire. Meat, my bullets cuddling. Onions, your shackles sautéed. Tomatoes and lettuce, your future piled so high. Oh my, and this sesame seed bun, big and yellow, like an unsetting sun.