El Pollo Feliz. The Happy Chicken. And why shouldn't he be happy? He's got a nice gig, welcoming people to a restaurant chain adored throughout Mexico! He is an ambassador of sorts, and the position suits him well. The jaunty comb, the carefree wattle... Everything about him speaks of a casual ease, healthy temperament, and thoughtful disposition.
But in the case of the Happy Chicken, as in many things, context is everything. Let's pull back a bit. Does this present a different view of El Happy? Does his nonchalance take on the flavor of barbarity?
Even with a roasted chicken splayed beside a dish of salsa picante, Happy Chicken flashes the thumbs-up! Nope, nothing unsavory here! That could be his sister, for all he knows—poor hermanita!—her skin baked to a crisp, her playful spirit extinguished forever. As you can see, Happy Chicken couldn't care less.
He has a job to do, a slogan to intone endlessly: muy sabroso, muy sabroso. Very flavorful, very flavorful. A cartoon in celebration of the chain's 31st anniversary has the director berating Happy for not being able to get this one line right. And so now! Now, he will get it right, dammit. He will shill tirelessly, he will not go off script! He knows his place! He will embody the Happy Chicken mission statement: No Hay Otro Mejor. There is nothing better.
Notice how the language barrier seems to vanish in a puff of chicken smoke. Animal degradation truly is a universal language. Like music and mathematics, mocking animals we plan on killing is something we can all understand. It is one thread in the Tapestry of Brotherhood.
(Thanks to Dr. Mrs. Suicidefood for the referral.)
Addendum: We debated getting into this. In the end, our professional duty compelled us to go forward. Here then is another, altogether disturbing image from the Pollo Feliz website. What to make of the dazed, and probably zonked-out lamb? The despondent piglet? What is happening in this adorable barnyard? And how in hell does this convince people to eat animals? Does it offer the possibility of saving these creatures from a disoriented, unhappy existence?
Addendum 2 (5/31/10): Pollo Feliz, meet Brazil's Porco Feliz. (Thanks to Dr. Deborah for the referral.)