We never thought of the Hamburglar as a cultural barometer for the social zeitgeist--an icon of generational relevance telling us who we are as a society, as individuals, as tweeting/twirling data points to define the modern age.
We still don’t think that, actually, but the new incarnation of the McDonald’s fast food felon probably does say something about where we are going as a nation.
The Hamburglar has gone hipster, with a makeover that includes a fedora, a black trench coat and a neatly-trimmed Brooklyn/Berkeley goatee beard thing. He’s also having some kind of early-mid-life crisis, slinking away from his wife when he hears a McDonald’s ad on the radio to reveal a secret villain’s lair built into the garage of his Spielbergian suburban tract home, a hidden vault where he keeps his costume and framed newspaper covers from his back-in-the-day days--“Burgers Vanish” and “Hamburglar Strikes Again.” It may not even be a villains lair. He might be a superhero, a super anti-hero, America’s secret gastronomic guilt in a Lone Ranger mask with red leather boots, red leather gloves and a red leather tie.
This guy can’t be bothered with society’s norms, man. He says “robble, robble,” assuming you’re cool enough to know that that means. It means something cool, right? His hashtag quiver includes #OGHamburglar. That makes him an Original Gangster, which we can suppose is true. He made his debut in 1971, a Shaft contemporary.
You say Hamburglar is a bad mutha? Shut your mouth (around the Steakhouse Sirloin burger he’s promoting, if you please).
The Hamburglar’s motivations were never clear. There can’t be a lot of money in stealing hamburgers from McDonald’s. There’s not even a lot of money in running McDonald’s. Profits have plummeted. They’re changing the “Billions Served” sign to “$Billions Lost.”
We certainly never thought his crime spree was about sticking it to the man. The Hamburglar didn’t sell himself as a free spirit, a rebel, “Easy Rider” roaring up to the drive-through window, but maybe that’s what this new campaign shows us. While Taco Bell is depicting Ronald McDonald as a dictator in its dystopian epic, in the Hamburglar’s world, Ronald McDonald skids his Dukes of Hazzard-esque hot rod up to the prison gates to pick up the freshly paroled Hamburglar.
Maybe McDonald’s was the true statement of freedom with the Hamburglar, the genuine counterculture champion, not those dour faces behind the macramé curtain at the health coop. The Hamburglar is the bad boy. He answers to no man, certainly not Mayor McCheese. So every generation gets the Hamburglar it deserves and this is ours. When Marlon Brando’s “The Wild One” character was asked “What are you rebelling against?” He replied, “Whadda you got?”
The Hamburglar is more specific. He’s rebelling against Whole Foods.