The Whopper “ Virgins:”Gender, Colonialism, and the Eating of Meat
By, Vas Stanescu, Director of Debate & Professor of Communication at Mercer University
In 2008 Burger King began a new advertisement campaign entitled The Whopper Virgins which purported to go to the “ the most remote parts of the world,” to discover people who “did not even have a word for hamburger.” The purpose for these travels was, purportedly, so that they could conduct the “ purest taste test in the world.” In this essay I argue that the actual motivation behind this campaign was not in reality a taste test, or even a publicity stunt tied to a taste test. It was, instead, an attempt to support the consuming of meat, and particularly the consuming of western style fast food, by referring the linkages, dating from the 1800’s, between gender, race, colonialism, and the supposed need to consume large amounts of meat. Specifically, I argue that the Whopper Virgins advertising campaign based itself on the stereotype of the peoples of non western counties as “ effeminate rice eaters” who, because of their supposed lack of access to meat, were viewed as more effeminate, less intelligent, and less technically savvy then their “ Western” counterparts. Such a stereotype is of particular concern because under such a (neo) colonialist view, the imposition of a high meat and fast food diet has been refigured as a necessary act of “humanitarian” assistance.
Vas Stanesu is a visiting Professor of Communication at Mercer University and Director of Debate. He is also the co-senior editor of the CAS book series.