By Kim Nursall
The Louvre: The epicenter of high culture, home to stunning art from every epoch of Western history. Known first and foremost as a museum, for almost 700 years the building was one of the principal residences of the kings and emperors of France. Masterpieces currently residing in the Louvre include Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Alexandros of Antioch’s Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace, whose sculptor remains unknown.
McDonald’s: The epicenter of gluttony, McDonald’s is home to indiscriminate food-seekers from every corner of the world. Known first and foremost as a fast-food restaurant, McDonald’s has come to represent the power of globalization and the general homogenization of our world’s taste and diversity. Masterpieces currently available for consumption at McDonald’s include the Big Mac, the Egg McMuffin and the McFlurry.
It seems unlikely that the Louvre or McDonald’s could ever complement each other. However, this is the new goal of the McDonald’s Corporation, as plans are in motion to open a location in the Louvre forecourt in December. As a result, one of the great destinations for those wishing to view some of the world’s finest art is now associating itself with McDonald’s, the number one producer of greasy fast-food and exemplar of mass consumption.
The forecourt, where the McDonald’s is to be located, is known as Le Carrousel du Louvre. It is an upscale shopping mall beneath the museum that shares the same architecture. With its vaulted ceilings and polished granite walls, Le Carrousel almost feels like an extension of the Louvre itself. The initial contract for the mall, when it opened 20 years ago, stipulated that only high culture and high-profile shops would be licensed, but McDonald’s has slicked itself up to slide right in.
McDonald’s represents the seduction of our world by the profit motive and cultural homogeneity, with the concomitant loss of creativity and diversity. Mickey D’s does not encourage individuals to explore or exult our world’s various cultures, nor does it challenge us to change the way we think or the way we view the world. It is not interested in celebrating artistic ingenuity, but rather packaging an easy solution for hunger that can be profitable in as many locations as possible. The Louvre is supposed to reveal and revere the achievements of some of the most gifted individuals to have graced our planet, not accommodate a globalizing corporation that could not care less about artistic inspiration.
Providing lodging for Ronald McDonald not only symbolizes the Trojan horse of globalization, but the move will inevitably detract from the Louvre itself. A place of grandeur exuding grace and creativity around every corner, the Louvre is selling out — choosing to commercialize, as opposed to preserving itself as a sanctuary for artistic vision and a pillar of the world’s cultural stage. Michelangelo’s Slave will now be serving cheeseburgers to his masters, and yes, the guests at The Wedding Feast at Cana by Veronese will “have fries with that.” I hear a Winged Victory play area and ball pit are in the works.