The video shown above is a parody of Chipotle’s ad for their new “Scarecrow” game. When I watched the original ad for the popular Mexican chain restaurant (featured at the end of the post) for the first time, I have to admit it hit me in the chest, for a moment… and then I shook my head and said, “What bull.”
This is why: The video begins with a Scarecrow, a cog in the corporate farming machine, going to work. During his day he catches sight of a chicken being injected with chemicals, and a group of sad cows trapped in small metal boxes being milked. This all seems to, justifiably, depress him so he goes home after work, apparently wondering how this world of industrial animal use came to be… until he sees a beautiful red pepper (Chipotle’s logo).
He then decides to do something about corporate animal farming and is shown picking beautiful vegetables and transporting heaps of them into the city, where he cooks them up offering an alternative to the food next door, being pumped out of the factory he used to work for.
If I understand the message of this ad, the Scarecrow’s solution to factory farms is to grow, eat and serve delicious veggies to the public. Great message, right?
Noticeably absent from the Scarecrow’s “solution scenes” are meat,* eggs or dairy products. And that’s my problem with this ad: The message they are attempting to capitalize on is a plant-based one (vegan), but Chipotle is far from a vegan restaurant chain.
*Although some people say there might be a chicken in the kitchen scene, I can’t spot it. If there is one, he doesn’t touch or cut it up during the scene.
Salon’s David Sirota comments:
“So did Chipotle mean its ad to be such an explicitly pro-vegetarian [vegan] message, only to see that message ignored by media outlets and much of its audience? Or did company executives design the ad with a two-pronged calculation? Were they calculating that: 1) the controversial and explicit vegetarian message would be ignored, but 2) that the audience would nonetheless implicitly ascribe the kill-free merits of vegetarianism to the burrito vendor’s products? Put another way, in a self-serving bit of trickery, were they actually trying to subtly conflate opposition to factory farming with full-on opposition to eating meat, even though those two things are fundamentally different?”
On Chipotle’s website they attempt to navigate their promotion of animal consumption with a good amount of happy meat and dairy propaganda such as this:
“There are ranchers whose pigs are raised outside or in deeply bedded pens, are never given antibiotics and are fed a vegetarian diet. It’s the way animals were raised 50 years ago before huge factory farms changed the industry. We believe pigs that are cared for in this way enjoy happier, healthier lives and produce the best pork we’ve ever tasted.”
If they really believe what they are saying, that there is nothing wrong with “happy” pigs being slaughtered for their burritos as long as they lived outside for at least part of their short lives, why doesn’t the Scarecrow go to a nice little animal farm during the video? He could help slit a pig’s throat, hang him upside down to drain his blood, take him home to butcher him (including dealing with the internal organs and such), cook him up, and then serve that same pig’s body to the public at the end of the video.
Why doesn’t the video end like that? Because it is not a “happy” reality, and no kind hearted individual (who this ad is clearly targeting) wants to see that, even though somehow so many still allow themselves to be a part of creating a demand for it.
This is a description of the Scarecrow game that the ad was built around:
“Help the Scarecrow rescue the City of Plenty from Crow Foods, the powerful industrial food corporation that has taken over the city. Tilt and tap your way through four unique worlds to protect vulnerable veggies, rescue caged animals, and bring fresh food to the citizens of Plenty, all while dodging the menacing Crowbots.”
We should rescue caged and enslaved animals, and bring fresh food (produce) to the citizens of the world… but turning our animal use, abuse and consumption into a happy game isn’t going to do that. It is only an attempt to gloss over how the factory farms were started in the first place – through our demand for animal products. And the only way they will end is when we stop creating a demand for animal products.
There is no happy meat, fish, eggs, dairy, wool, silk, honey, or leather. There are only the dead or enslaved animals which they came from, and a sad Scarecrow isn’t going to change that – you are.
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