Mona Eltahawy, a self-described "proud liberal Muslim," kicked up a journalistic dust storm in this month's Foreign Policy cover story by asking a question that's guaranteed to get people shouting: "Why Do They Hate Us?"
Her curious answer: female genitalia.
Eltahawy's thesis is just the latest put forth as to why parts of the world aren't so keen on us Westerners. President George W. Bush took a different view in his September 2001 address to a joint session of Congress, laying out a variety of reasons including: our democratically elected government, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.
Less charitable commentators have suggested other causes including a taste for pre-emptive war, decades of covert CIA operations, Marines pissing on Taliban corpses, cultural hegemony, economic imperialism or, as Noam Chomsky puts it, "our policies."
(One question that's rarely asked: if they hate us so much, how did the second and third Alvin and the Chipmunks movies -- The Squeakquel, and Chipwrecked -- together earn over $1.1bn at the worldwide box office?)
Welcome to "This is Why They Hate Us," NSFW Corp's ongoing look at why the unnamed nefarious "they" hold such deep-seeded animosity to the anonymous magnanimous "us." This week: Fast Food Designed to Hurt.
"Dr." Jon Basso, owner of the aptly-named Las Vegas eatery the Heart Attack Grill (where folks who tip the scales at 350 lbs or fatter eat free!) is not a man to mince words. He is, however, a man to mince meats: his establishment holds the Guinness Book record for "World's Highest Calorie Hamburger." When loaded up with 20 slices of bacon, the 2 lb. Quadruple Bypass Burger delivers a staggering 9,983 calories, nearly four times the recommended daily intake for adult males. It's the menu's biggest beast, but one doesn't need to go whole hog (cow) to get the full effect. The Heart Attack Grill lives up to its name -- two on-site diners have collapsed with suspected heart attacks while gorging on the massive menu items.
This must give Basso, a man of dubious medical credentials, pause, right? Nope, he believes a diet of tough love and public humiliation is good for patrons. "I did them a huge favor," he says. "When the ambulance carts them out of here for the first time, they finally have enough extreme shock to realize their shortcomings. One never knows if they're at-risk until they have an incident, and If they don't change their behavior patterns, they're going to die. Nobody else will say it, I tell them they're a fat piece of shit."
Grotesque? Sure, but it's also a very American way of addressing the national obesity epidemic. And at the end of the EKG line, at least we're being killed by our own cuisine. Meat and cheese, cheese and meat, it's the American way. In late 2011 though, the good people of Japan had a third deadly bomb dropped on them by the USA when Burger King unveiled the 'Meat Monster': a new treat available only in the land of the rising cholesterol levels.
The overstuffed beast lives up to its name -- it's a Frankenstein monstrosity that packs 1,160 calories in its petrified buns. That's two hamburgers, a chicken breast fillet, two slices of cheese, three strips of bacon and, for the health conscious, some lettuce and tomatoes. Oh, and mayonnaise. Globs and globs of glorious mayonnaise.
Or, perhaps not. This is Burger King, after all. Opt out on the dressing, and pile on a fish patty. Slather on some teriyaki sauce. Have it your way, Nihonjin! Who says we aren't spreading democratic ideals?
According to the 2008 health report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Japan has the lowest rate of obesity at 3.4% (not to mention the longest life expectancy at 82.7) among the organization's 25 members. And the highest rate at 33.8%? USA! USA! USA!
Turning our gluttonous attention to Australia, a judge has ordered KFC to pay $8.3 million to a family after then seven-year-old Monika Samaan was left brain damaged from eating a delicious chicken Twister wrap. The young girl contracted salmonella poisoning, fell into a six-month coma, and awoke suffering from spastic quadriplegia, which affects all her limbs and has confined her to a wheelchair. During the court battle, it was theorized that improper food preparation was the cause. In layman's terms, it means fast food schlubs plucked recycled chicken off the nasty-ass floor.
True American freedom fighters that they are, KFC isn't content just bringing dirty birds Down Under. The company is also standing by the great American tradition of overwhelming the legal system with a battery of corporate lawyers.
The Colonel's army has vowed to appeal, with a company spokesperson insisting, "We feel deeply for Monika and the Samaan family. However, we also have a responsibility to defend KFC's reputation as a provider of safe, high-quality food." Course you do, KFC -- right after you fulfill your duty to go fuck yourself.
Lastly, we fill our guts in the Middle East, where Pizza Hut has determined that the good people of Allah should not be denied all varieties of the fine foodstuffs we have to offer. Simultaneously. Belly up to the "Crown Crust Pizza" which comes in two versions, one with a ring of mini-cheeseburgers, the other a circle of chicken fillet "gems." This isn't some gross thrown-together stoner-type meal though, each pie is thick with with thematically-appropriate toppings. The former is "drizzled with special sauce" and covered in tomatoes, the latter is slathered in barbecue sauce and green peppers. Like the Pizza Hut Middle East adman says, "It's the Most Royal Pizza Ever!"
Surely, it's fit for a monarch. Foodies eagerly await the Yelp review from Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. Something along the lines of, "We may have all the oil, but it took the United States to give us gas!"
The United States takes a lot of crap for the crap it exports, but Basso feels we're simply ahead of the curve in crushing the world's collective BMI. "It's an inevitability. We've exported our language as the global language, and our cuisine," he says. "The hamburger is the number one consumed [processed] food product on Earth, so in a hundred years it will be interesting to see what the global health habits are. Sadly, I'm pessimistic. We're morphing into an obese species."
And you can bet where there's a waistline, there's a potentially lethal way American fast food companies will find to fill it.