19 August 2010

Sell-Outs Abroad: Part I

So Albert Urderzo and the shareholders of Asterix have been catching criticism about the featuring one of France's foremost pop culture icons in an ad for McDonald's, one of America's foremost icons of... well generally whatever bad things you care to name about the United States.

So I guess I'll offer my two cents here.

I like to think of Asterix as the French Superman, an embodiment of some of a country's ideals and values. Whereas Clark Kent is a naturalized immigrant from another planet, Asterix the Gaul defends his home turf from the Romans and other corrupting forces of the ancient world. His entire purpose is to keep Gaul's heritage and prevent his home village from being absorbed into the Roman Empire. And now his entire village is shilling Big Macs.
But then, Asterix has a major merchandising force for a number of years. Whether it's movies, toys, food a freaking theme park, the little Gaul is pretty much a continental Mickey Mouse (well known pretty much everywhere except America, oddly enough). But then again, it's French toys, movies food and a freaking theme park that the brand is selling. Also, "McAsterix" has Albert Urderzo's approval, though his own handling of the characters he's co-created been facing fire as well. (Rene Goscinny, the original writer, passed away in 1977)

I didn't grow up with Asterix, nor am I French. Heck, in the U.S. a cartoon character making it into McDonald's Ads and toys is pretty much a symbol of pride(maybe it has something to do with the whole capitalism thing, I dunno). But I get plenty mad whenever George Lucas decides that he still hasn't added enough CGI to the original Star Wars trilogy and when the Disney Company decides Tinkerbell should speak.

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