The most repeated and recognized caricature of Americans is that of a fat, stupid slob munching on a cheeseburger.
Like all stereotypes, there’s a hint of truth buried underneath the exaggeration. We struggle with unusually high levels of obesity in this nation. We generally eat less healthy than other countries, and we have begun to indulge in a mindset that refuses to even acknowledge the ramifications of our poor lifestyle choices.
That said, any reasonable person knows that sweeping generalizations of Americans and light-hearted jabs are usually made in jest.
Everyone knows this, it appears, except Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The mayor announced Thursday via video that anyone still hesitant to receive the coronavirus vaccine would be given a special prize for bending the knee and taking the injection — a burger and some French fries from fast food chain Shake Shack.
“Is it too early in the day to eat a burger?” de Blasio asked with dead eyes to an aide off screen as he fingered a clearly aged and cold fast food sandwich. “This could be breakfast?” (RELATED: CDC Study Finds 78% Of COVID-19 Hospitalizations Were People Overweight Or Obese)
“I want you to look at this,” he continued through a mouthful of chewed food. “I want you to think of this when you think of vaccination.”
“Mmmmmm, vaccination,” he added with a nervous smile to the camera. The entire ordeal was reminiscent of a parent telling their child to open their mouth for the airplane, or a human putting a pet’s medicine in a ball of peanut butter to trick them into eating it.
Stereotypes, even negative ones about your own country, can be fun when you don’t believe they actually reflect reality. But when reality begins to outpace the stereotypes and officials treat our population with more scorn than foreigners, things stop being funny very quickly.
Does de Blasio truly believe as he chomps those French fries that cheap fast food is so irresistible to the common American that those who have avoided the vaccine until now will finally cave in and take the shot just for a bite of crispy potatoes?
I cant stop watching this. pic.twitter.com/XxUVHUD2qs
— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) May 13, 2021
What’s truly staggering is how little outrage the Shake Shack stunt has caused, not only among Democrats and COVID-19 doomers, but even among supposedly patriotic Americans.
Conservatives were seemingly too focused on pointing out de Blasio’s bad table manners and obnoxious mouthful of food to recognize the mockery the mayor of the largest city in the country was making of its citizens.
Don’t miss your shot, NYC! Score a free ShackBurger voucher (while supplies last) when you get vaccinated at a NYC mobile vaccine bus! Already vaccinated? ’Til 6/12, order a ???? or chicken in-person at any NYC Shack + get free fries with proof of your vax! https://t.co/UTuHOwN44y https://t.co/Ld3jDmYbHS
— SHAKE SHACK (@shakeshack) May 13, 2021
Americans have never pretended to be particularly refined, nor have we ever attempted to imitate the fragile egos and obsession with appearances that our European brothers and sisters boast. Americans have never worried much about what other nations thought of us or our culture. After all, we’re the land of Hollywood and Disney. The music we produce and the movies we make are regularly picked up and acclaimed worldwide.
But if de Blasio is prepared to treat us like pigs at the trough, ready to do anything just to gobble up cheap, garbage food, maybe it’s time we partake in a little self-reflection.
This isn’t about whether we should be clinging to our masks for dear life and sticking our arms out for vaccinations with zero questions. Nor does it matter if you think the vaccine is some sort of mark of the beast conspiracy run by the Illuminati that we must avoid at all costs. Whether or not you’re vaccinated at all is irrelevant. It’s the mentality we have towards our public, our priorities and, most of all, our nation’s collective dignity that needs to be examined.
Are Americans proud of de Blasio’s viral hamburger bribe? Does it make Americans feel good to know other countries see our most prominent leaders waving junk food in our faces, confident that we’ll bite?
If this Shake Shack partnership boosts vaccination numbers, it means that the stereotype of Americans as fat, gluttonous morons is no longer just a stereotype. It’s a flatly accurate description of our public.
Even if the precious grease patties don’t sway anyone, it still means that our leaders at least think of us and our nation as gluttonous hogs, easy to satiate with fast food thrown into our pen. And that is, perhaps, just as depressing.