The snack is sacred but the idiocy divine

It seems that Burger King decided that Carl’s Jr had a good thing going using (Padma) Lakshmi to advertise hamburgers, so they ran an ad in Spain using Padma Lakshmi to advertise … Ham Burgers with the tag line “The Snack is Sacred.”

I don’t know about you, but even as a non-Hindu I found this pretty offensive. Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth and learning, and they’re using her image in an ignorant way to promote a pretty cheap foodstuff. I mean, if you’re going to be offensive and use a Hindu Goddess to sell a meat product, why not go all the way and get your forbidden foodstuffs right? Hindus are most offended by beef and Muslims are most offended by pork. It’s like they couldn’t even be bothered to tell their non-Christian religions apart, even though Spain was ruled by Muslims for hundreds of years.

Of course, when news got out, a holy ruckus was raised, and BK issued a rare apology:

“We are apologising because it wasn’t our intent to offend anyone,” said spokeswoman Denise T Wilson. “Burger King Corporation values and respects all of its guests as well as the communities we serve. This in-store advertisement was running to support only local promotion for three restaurants in Spain and was not intended to offend anyone. “Out of respect for the Hindu community, the limited-time advertisement has been removed from the restaurants,” she added. [link]

At BK, we offend you our way.

165 thoughts on “The snack is sacred but the idiocy divine

  1. “Without a doubt, the folks we refer to as “Hindus” today did NOT realize that they were practictioners of the same religion until the 1850s when the British formalized the name of the polytheistic religionS (plural form of “religion”) of South Asia.

    The “Hindu” religion of South India prior to the 1850s is so vastly different from the “Hindu” practiced in North India prior to 1850s. Most North Indians don’t even know many South Indian gods/goddesses, or even by able to pronounce their names. The myths surrounding the South and North Indian gods are different.

    South Indians worship Murugan, which has been made into an avatar of one of the Hindu trinity, but this is a much later development. This same revisionist pattern of “avatarizing” South Indian gods has been repeated over and over again. Even Jesus Christ has been made an avatar of Raama/Krishna by latter-day Hindus!

    In South India, they worship: Kartikaya, Murugan, Venkatasha(sp?), Senthil, etc. Moreover, the North Indians, in order to distinguish themselves from the South Indians, tend to be Vaishnavites, and some are even insistent that this is NOT Hinduism. For example, the ISKCON here in Boston, the desi priest there made it clear that “We are not Hindus. We are Monotheists”. Same way, South Indians typically worship a Shiva, or an indigenous Dravidian god that has been made into an avatar of Shiva. “

    You win the PRIZE for what has to be the DUMBEST and most historically inaccurate comments on SM in a long time.

  2. You win the PRIZE for what has to be the DUMBEST and most historically inaccurate comments on SM in a long time.

    Ever since this person has been going on about saying dravidian is a race, supposedly a different race from other Indians, I haven’t paid any attention to what this person are saying.

  3. Dr. A, I am uncomfortable that you mention Buddha and poverty in the same sentence. First, Buddha not offer any advice on how an individual could become rich, nor did he offer advice on how governments could come up with poverty-alleviation programs. So he did not address poverty either at an individual’s level, or at a government’s level. Second—this is the more critical issue—it wrong to look at a religion from the standpoint of poverty. Poverty is the state’s business, not a religion’s.

  4. Is Buddhism completely outside of South Asian religious traditions… has only recently found a following again in South Asia?

    You might want to reword this sentence. South Asia includes Sri Lanka, where Buddhism has had a large following for a long time.

  5. 152 · PS on July 17, 2009 11:08 AM · Direct link You win the PRIZE for what has to be the DUMBEST and most historically inaccurate comments on SM in a long time. Ever since this person has been going on about saying dravidian is a race, supposedly a different race from other Indians, I haven’t paid any attention to what this person are saying.

    Superb. I’d like a Sacred Ham Burger (sic) as a reward.

  6. 154 · skeptic on July 17, 2009 12:27 PM · Direct link Is Buddhism completely outside of South Asian religious traditions… has only recently found a following again in South Asia? You might want to reword this sentence. South Asia includes Sri Lanka, where Buddhism has had a large following for a long time.

    Also, Buddhism was the dominate religion in South Asia around 400 AD. From the South of India, where Karate was invented/spread by Buddhists to the East, to the very far north in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, Buddhism was the dominant way of life (and egalitarian, mind you). The Hunnic Rajputs, when the migrated to north west India around 300 AD, were originally Buddhists, but they became Hindus with a very high caste around the late 300s AD or early 400 AD.

  7. Also, Buddhism was the dominate religion in South Asia around 400 AD.

    Not quite. Religious affiliation in ancient India was very fluid so you’d have a lot of people revering any priest who came by, Buddhist, Jain, or whatever other Hindu order. Intellectual fashions would generally rise and fall the same way they do in any realm.

    As for karate, it wasn’t really “invented” in India. Certain exercises, yogic postures, and martial training was exported to China by Buddhist travelers. This was the inspiration for the development of a purely hand-to-hand art of Kung-Fu invented by Chinese monks since they were forbidden to carry weapons and needed to protect themselves from bandits.

    Karate was invented much much later when Chinese culture was exported to Japan and recontextualized there.

  8. see no purpose behind using a picture of an ancient Hindu goddess in an ad campaign, except trying to create a controversy. So, what we’re doing here is only helping their cause.

    Religion is for people who are terrified that the sky might fall on their head, or something terrible might happen to them. So, they need something or somebody with supernatural powers to protect them. The purpose of religion since the ancient times has always been to scare and control ignorant people.

    The purpose of this commercial is also to rile up the same ignorant folks to create some controversy. And it’s working.

    Religion is outdated, like monarchs and maharajahs and knights. It’s a shame that priests still enjoy a respectable position in our society. The church, the priest, the temple and all such establishments, capitalize on peoples’ fear, to fulfill their own selfish goals. The marketing folks in this ad campaign is doing exactly the same thing – using people’s prejudices to their own advantage.

  9. 157 · Yoga Fire on July 17, 2009 01:22 PM · Direct link As for karate, it wasn’t really “invented” in India. Certain exercises, yogic postures, and martial training was exported to China by Buddhist travelers. This was the inspiration for the development of a purely hand-to-hand art of Kung-Fu invented by Chinese monks since they were forbidden to carry weapons and needed to protect themselves from bandits.

    You’re right. They were Buddhist travelers from Southern India. I think that I deserve another SM award. This time, a Carl Jr. cheeseburger like the one that hot Hindu babe advertised about.

  10. Can we (all things plural hindoos) be a little sensitive to the aesthetic sensibilities of the non-hidoos?

  11. Yoga Fire, great posts.

    Hindus traveling to China would find equivalents for their Gods among the “Chinese” Gods. This kind of thing is pretty common among the heathens. So if Hindus say that Kaaba is a Shiva temple, it is simply acknowledging the obvious that the Kaaba was a heathen temple before being defiled by Mohammad’s iconoclasm.

  12. Dr. A, I am uncomfortable that you mention Buddha and poverty in the same sentence. First, Buddha not offer any advice on how an individual could become rich, nor did he offer advice on how governments could come up with poverty-alleviation programs. So he did not address poverty either at an individual’s level, or at a government’s level. Second—this is the more critical issue—it wrong to look at a religion from the standpoint of poverty. Poverty is the state’s business, not a religion’s.

    You’ve never heard the story about the buddha growing up cloistered from suffering and then seeing the world and being moved by the amoutn of suffering he saw when he left his home? In any case, that’s what I draw from Buddhism (among other things) – it’s not the only form of Buddhism obviously. You don’t have to do the same.

    In which vein I should apologise and thank you for catchign my error in saying South Asia when I meant India – sorry for that to all. Though given the magnitude of India, I assume I’m wrong about that as well :)

    I disagree with most of the rest of what you wrote – poverty is everyone’s business, especially those who lay claim to some kind of moral authority.