Hooters turn, not McDonalds

Certain things in life are probably a dead give away and it doesn’t take too much intelligence to work out what a type of establishment is.  For example, I am sure that the leader of my local “Bible Discussion and Study Meeting” Group now fully understands that when they were on their trip to Amsterdam, it may have been advisable to avoid an establishment tastefully adorned with little red lights and that the large neon sign saying flashing ‘BDSM Club’ was not an abbreviation of the founders’ surnames, the respected pillars of the community Roger Bonger, Ververy De Roode,  Willie Stikken and the Inman Massen.  Group leader Ethel now understands that the very nice ladies stood in the windows were not sponsored by the local leather workshop either.

I can forgive a lot of people of not understanding the true nature of a certain club named after a flavour of chewing gum and a large endangered land animal (I don’t mean Peppermint Hippos, but close), but you must have been living on another planet for years if you haven’t heard of ‘Hooters’, a bar and restaurant chain that operates in 28 countries and has over 460 establishments.  The Hooters’s name is openly derived from a slang term for certain parts of the female anatomy and the chain could have been easily called ‘Melons’.  The table staffs in these restaurants are female, the corporate uniform is a tight fitting tee-shirt worn with hotpants and a certain degree of attractiveness is required to be successful at the interview.   Hooters claim that their hiring policy for certain physical attributes in all female wait staff is actually a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification under discrimination laws in the US, in the same way as Playboy does with the ‘Bunnies’ at its clubs.  Additionally, all of the restaurants are licensed to serve alcohol and they obviously don’t do a kids menu.  Although the business model is aimed at a mature market, there is absolutely no way to connect the restaurants or their staff to any of the more salacious businesses such as Peppermint Hippos.   

So why do I mention this?  Well, it’s not Wednesday so it’s not McDonalds turn.  Yes, there is someone suing Dunkin Donuts because they served them a cup of coffee with sugar and not artificial sweetener (because we all know that the staff should be able to diagnose that the customer was a diabetic at a glance), but really that’s just a local issue.  No, we have a new Quelle Horreur:  It appears that a family took their 12 year old to the local Hooters for a birthday party …. and then were rather upset because his cake was in the shape of the curvy bits of a female.  It gets worse, not only were they very upset, but they managed to get a petition online with over 900 signatures.  No one seems to have noticed that someone actually specially ordered and paid for the cake, because it actually said ‘Happy 12th Birthday’ on it.

No doubt that someone now wants either recompense or an opportunity to sell their story to the newspapers.  In a couple of weeks we may see a family member appearing on Dr Phil or Oprah or some other eponymous daytime TV show regaling the audience with details of “how I dealt with the shock of my twelve year old seeing fake breasts” and “We are all in counselling”.   It’s more probable that, given the choice between a birthday party in McDonalds, with a bunch of unhappy kids running around whilst someone in a clown suit is trying to force a balloon into your hands at the same time as you are failing to tear open a ketchup sachet to mask the taste of what may be a burger wrapped in grease-soaked paper cartons, or eating a proper meal served at your table in a proper restaurant, most normal people would opt for a nice meal in nice surroundings.  It turns the event into an occasion for the family and injects a sense of fun for someone who is too old to sit on a clown’s knee.  It’s conscious decision by the parents and adults who are actually organising and paying for the event.

But what of the cake?  It is worth noting that this whole incident took place in Bristol in the UK.  It is also worth noting that in 1971 the Times Newspaper no less published the first topless model photograph in an advertisement for Fisons.  The Sun newspaper has recently celebrated 40 years of publishing a photograph of a topless model on page 3 each day, a newspaper that the University of Nottingham has noted is the read by a fifth of twelve year olds in a survey of 8,000 children in surveys conducted in the 1970s and in 1999.  So even assuming the birthday child in question has never been to an museum and seen any Renaissance artworks or been on a European beach vacation, just by reading a newspaper they see topless models, alongside the lurid headlines for death, violence and all the other rather unsavoury aspects of life.  Against this context a twelve year old should not be shocked at the representation of the female form.  And again, remember that this is a fun item for all the guests.

The article also made reference to the corporate uniform worn by the staff in Hooters.  The thought has to be so what, tee-shirt and shorts – big deal.  Admittedly you may not wear them to your aunt’s funeral, but girls have been wearing these for decades and it is virtually de rigueur for a night out in frost covered Newcastle in January.  A tee-shirt certainly covers more flesh that you see on the beach or at the swimming pool and cannot in any way be seen as provocative.  A clean tee-shirt on someone with a smile is better than a badly fitting clown suit and certainly preferable to a grease covered apron worn by some 300lb moustachioed female with a surly attitude.  The adults in the birthday party know this and this is why they injected some sense of fun into a birthday party.  “Its my party and I’ll cry if I want to” may have been a great lyric for Lesley Gore to sing, but really it defeats the whole purpose of being joyous at a birthday celebration.

So yet another non-story about successful business being condemned for an imagined slight – something not of their doing.  In a couple of days, this will be forgotten and normal service will be resumed when there is yet more criticism of McDonalds again, hopefully for something original this time maybe like the fact that a woman felt humiliated that the building was painted in the same shade as their lipstick.  In the meantime, a 12 year old in Bristol can put the press clippings in a scrap book and remember the fun party in a local restaurant.  And I’m off to see exactly if the Roger Bonger, Ververy De Roode,  Willie Stikken and the Inman Massen clothing line will look as good on me as the models in their windows.


About cryptothinker

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