OH ... my ... God. Look what they've done to Ronald McDonald.
Have you seen the makeover they gave this guy?
The slim, abs-of-steel physique?
The tailored track suits?
The Richard Simmons-like zealotry in his eyes for sweat and exercise and a top-of-the-line treadmill parked next to his bed?
Yes, in a huge, international advertising campaign rolled out the other day, the veteran McDonald's spokesnerd comes off looking not so much as the puffy clown who tussled good-naturedly with the Hamburglar until he was out of breath, but as, I don't know, America's best hope in the decathlon for the coming Olympic Games.
Boy, you talk about "before" and "after" shots.
Not since Jared dropped the approximate weight of a piano eating turkey breast Subway sandwiches has anyone altered his look so dramatically.
But isn't Ronald's drastic body makeover going to confuse the little kids who make up a large percentage of McDonald's customers?
Think about it.
One minute Ronald's chubby and schlubby, stuffing fries in his fat little face and all but saying to kids: "Oh, go ahead, one or two quarter-pounders-with-cheese for breakfast isn't going to kill you!"
The next minute, he's skinny and wild-eyed and running around like he just downed a six-pack of Red Bull, dragging kids off the couch to do push-ups with him and slapping the Happy Meals out of their hands and replacing them with yogurt and carrot sticks.
Isn't this a little alarming if you're 6 or 7 or 8 years old?
Isn't the natural reaction from kids going to be: Mommy, Daddy, what happened to Ronald?
Is he sick?
He used to be so much fun to be around!
Now he's ... weird or something.
That's right, kids. Ronald is weird now.
And you want to know why?
It's because Ronald went over to the dark side and joined the Health Gestapo, that's why.
Now he's going to nag you to eat your vegetables and put down the remote and go play outside, just like every other adult you know.
See, kids, what happened to Ronald is this: Ronald's parent company got tired of being America's favorite Evil Fast Food Empire, continuously accused of poisoning our citizens with high-fat, high-calorie, high-sodium meals.
They got tired of all the bad press they were getting for serving this Trifecta of Death, all the snide jabs from late-night comedians, all the documentary films basically accusing them of being soul-less profiteers while U.S. school kids and their parents got fatter and fatter.
So they caved in and came up with a new ad campaign to reflect their new social awareness about the obesity problem in this country.
And one focus of the new campaign was to make Ronald look like he spends eight hours a day in the gym and eats like a Tibetan monk.
(By the way, his hair even looks better, now. The cut is updated or something. Maybe he's even using gel.
(Whatever he's doing, it works. Way better than that crazy red Rastafarian thing he had going before.)
The thing is, isn't this really a wasted effort on McDonald's part?
Does anyone really look to McDonald's to set the tone for nutritious eating and sensible exercise habits?
In fact, don't people go to McDonald's precisely because they know the food will be tasty and fat-laden, just the way they want it?
Sure, they do.
A Big Mac, fries and a Coke - nobody's ordering that because they want to drop 20 pounds for their high school reunion.
And as anyone who's ever been at a McDonald's knows, there aren't a lot of people in there who look like they just jumped off the Stair-Master, either, if you catch my drift.
So this whole idea of pushing foods such as salads and low-fat dressings, and Happy Meals with bottled water and fruit, seems totally nuts.
So does having your formerly roly-poly corporate spokesclown suddenly show up looking like he's training for the Ironman Triathlon.
I know we live in a new world now.
But that's sort of ridiculous.