Semiotic analysis allows for the examination of the social aspect of an object, or in this case something non textual, and how it can have many levels of meaning that may go unnoticed in everyday situations. In Bell and Freeman’s article, Decoding of the Meaning of the Perfect Christmas Meal, they stated that in semiotic analysis, Social semioticians are interested in the way socially accepted meanings change as society evolves.” From that a detailed meaning of what Christmas dinner has evolved to mean was discovered. For my semiotic analysis, I have chosen to look at something that is near and dear to the inner child in all of us. The epitome of the perfect meal: The McDonald’s Happy Meal.
Obviously, we already know that McDonald's is a bit taboo. Its unhealthy, its quality is non existent and it gives America the rep of being obese. But let’s look at this from the perspective of a child. This little red box containing three days’ worth of sodium definitely lives up to its name, for a six year old Ronald McDonald was a superhero. McDonald’s is a defining symbol in the United States, it is a cultural icon that has spread throughout the world. Kids driving down the highway beg their parents to stop at the promising golden arches to taste the kindergarten delicacy of McNugget’s and fries. I remember begging my mom to pull up to the drive through because I was “starving” and couldn’t possibly wait until I got home to eat a decent meal. On the rare occasion she would stop, I remember the cashier asking the most important question: “Will that be a boy or a girl toy?” Now, clearly to a child this is an important question in a different way than we might find it to be an important question. Six year old me would cry if I got a Hot Wheelz instead of Malibu Barbie. However, I am not six anymore and I can see an issue with this.
Even by the food children eat, they are being put into gender roles. “Girl’s toys” and “boy’s toys” are almost always stereotyped. I don’t remember ever seeing a toy hidden under French fries that inspired me to amount to anything beyond typical domestic women’s roles. Every mini doll, game or stuffed toy promoted femininity. While I’m sure every little boy found that his Transformer or toy car promoted typical masculine roles.Why is it that, even for a meal, boys and girls are being separated into stereotyped categories? This adds a lot of weight to mom’s quick fix for dinner while she was in a rush to do errands. This is just another one of the small yet powerful impacts that seemingly meaningless objects can have on our society. Through semiotic analysis we can look deeper into what things really mean under the surface.