When it comes to any cause -- whether it's gay marriage, or medical marijuana, or feminism -- the most important moment is not necessarily when its goals are accomplished. For something as slow-moving as gay marriage or all-encompassing as feminism, goals may never entirely be completed. Instead, the biggest moment generally comes when the general public becomes aware of the cause. Before you can get the public on your side, they have to be aware that your side exists.
In the case of fast food workers seeking a living wage, it's been a slow and steady battle uphill in order to get the public aware of what they want, why they want it, and why they deserve it. And this week, recognition of their cause came in a very unlikely place: The comments section of a viral video.
MediocreFilms is one of those insanely-popular YouTube channels that upload new "prank" videos once a week or so. Last week, they looked at the conundrum a lot of us experience whenever we go buy fast food: Whatever we order looks nothing like it does in the ads.
Here's the video:
If you didn't watch it, that's fine. They don't really need any more views at this point. (Three days after being uploaded, they're just about to push past the four million view threshold.) The whole thing is basically the host ordering a burger, getting it, looking at it, returning it to the register because it doesn't look anything like the ads say it will, asking the workers to make a new burger instead, and acting amazed that the second attempt is a whole lot better looking.
So, hooray! We've figured out how to get a decent-looking Big Mac! Just ask a second time and it should all work out great! Everyone should be excited, right? Wrong.
If you spend a few moments in the comments section of the video, you might notice something funny. (And before we go on, I would rarely recommend ever spending a second in any comments section, since they're generally the worst places in the world.) In between the comments telling the host that he probably just ingested a bunch of spit, and the misspelled pieces of misanthropy that come with any form of anonymous communication, there are actually a large number of comments sticking up for the workers.
Your fast food looks like crap because the fast food employees are overworked, underpaid, and expected to push out a product every thirty seconds.
I wouldn't even bother minimum wage workers like this. Their lives are hard enough. Jeez.
And even sarcastic bits like this:
Well done. These big money makers need to be reminded once in a while.
You can't go a page of the long list of comments (nearly 6,000 in all as of this typing), without some anonymous party using it as a platform to proclaim how bad the fast food workers behind the counter have it. Many commenters actually use the terminology ($15 an hour) and goals (living wage, paid sick days) that have been spread via the strikes. In all, it's kind of amazing to see.
While we have yet to see an actual significant change in terms of policy, the fact that awareness about how bad they have it is a good sign. The tipping point of any cause is when you can talk to any person on the street about it and they know what you're talking about. And while the comments section of a YouTube video isn't exactly a peer-reviewed scientific study, it is a nice glimpse into public consciousness.
If awareness is the most important thing, then it looks like the fight over fast food workers rights is heading in the right direction.
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