I’ve seen this commercial twice now. I can’t seem to find it on YouTube, but its a paean to the virtues of pasteurized processed cheese products. “Hey, you can’t do that (that is, put cheese on a burger, in the video for the commercial) with Roquefort!” No shit. Perfect squares of food don’t exist in nature. Why is that a problem?
No, Roquefort doesn’t come in convenient, homogeneous slices that, while “not made of oil like those other brands,” ARE NOT a). uniquely American and b). not, in the strict sense, cheese at all. It’s actually made from milk, salt, and enzymes that are carefully combined and aged according to a tradition that makes it unique among other cheeses. It’s is not made of a cheap cheddar cheese slurry and extruded. To call the bland goo that becomes American “cheese” cheese is to insult the art of cheesemaking that, despite what some would think, is an artform just as is winemaking.
Now, before everyone jumps on the “who gives a shit about cheese” bandwagon, I do have a larger point to make. I look at American cheese as the symbol of the kind of xenophobic simple mindedness that seems to be overtaking a certain portion of the body politic in this country. If you’ve seen the commercial, I hope you can see what I’m talking about. The announcer talks about American cheese as if it is some triumph of American ingenuity and intelligence (there is an analogy drawn to the space program somewhere in it) Really, Kraft marketing person? This tasteless, characterless, unnaturally perfect square slab of chilled cheese slurry is the pinnacle of American innovation? Even as commercial hyperbole goes, that’s a pretty audacious claim. I just know that there are lots of people watching this commercial while reading the Sarah Palin book and biting their nails as our CommieNazi president tries his damndest to keep the American machine from collapsing under the weight of hubris and stubborn refusal to acknowledge that “foreign” is not a dirty word, saying, “Damn right! American cheese is better than any of that wimpy French and English stuff. USA! USA!” In essence, this commercial is an example of the stereotypical American supremacy viewpoint that, in my opinion, we don’t need any more of.
I love the USA, just as I am sure Canadians love Canada, and Germans love Germany, and Indians love India. If we’re going to pick something to highlight our nation’s contribution to the world, can we NOT choose mass-produced fake food?