Geoffrey Giuliano’s inspiring confessions - The Former Ronald McDonald
His story not only tells of the type of propaganda sold by the animal industry, but of consumer politics in general.
When I went I was pretty much fresh out of drama school and I really had big ideas, that the Ronald McDonald Safety Show would help children not to drink bleach and set themselves on fire and things, so I learned it and I did it.
And then one day, as I was getting dressed in the dressing room I found a memorandum from one of the McDonald’s executives and it said: ‘To all personnel re: The Ronald McDonald Safety Show, the purpose of this show is to increase the public’s awareness and especially the young peoples’ awareness of McDonald’s goods and services’. I thought, gee, I thought it was to help kids.
The whole act was pretty corny and unbelievable from the start. The story as we told it was that hamburgers have nothing to do with a dead cow, that they grow in a happy little patch and you just go and pluck them away with the purple guy, (Hamburglar) and all the other characters. They cloaked this wholesale slaughter of innocent animals in fairytales and PR. I once went to the McChicken plant where they “prepare” the chickens to make McNuggets. The chickens at one end are live and come out dead at the other end. It smelled terrible. And there was something slippery like goo on the floor and you knew that this was a place of death.
I remember taking a ride with George Cullen, the President of McDonald’s at Canada from gig to gig because I was sort of something he liked to show off, “the” Ronald McDonald. I had a big fat book of unlimited account cards and such, the best make up, the best everything. Including this goofy 30th floor office with a secretary named Lynne, and I used to go in the office, I had absolutely nothing to do, but I had the office and I had the executive washroom. It was just madness, cheap and sullied and dirty. You could feel the dirt, and everybody just took with both hands. After a while it got to be too much, my conscience got the better of me. These things started to eat away at me, and over a few months, I decided “I can’t do this anymore, this is just sick and pointless”.
I realised that there would be a lot of consequences for me if I stayed with that job. One of them would be that I would make a lot of money. In fact, my mother was once standing with one of the big executives at McDonald’s of Canada and he said to her “We expect great things from Geoffrey”. I just said, “look, after about a year and a half, that’s it, that’s enough, take this job and shove it. I was out of work for a long time, which was tough, but they gave me a golden hand shake. Since I’ve ‘come out of the closet’, they make the other Ronalds sign a document promising not to tell, and they’ll give you some money if you keep your mouth shut. They gave me five thousand Canadian dollars and I just took off.
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