Question: Have you ever had a dream where you were in your favorite fast-food dining establishment and suddenly it starts flooding?
Have you ever entertained the thought “Wouldn’t it be cool if Burger King got flooded?”
Is it — or has it ever been — your burning desire to see a KFC deluged to the rafters?
Have you wondered aloud (or in private, for that matter) what it would be like if McDonalds was overrun with a rushing torrent of H20?
You have? (Uh, really, you have?). Ok.
Well, guess what, kids, the short film “Flooded McDonalds” is for YOU!
Created by artist collective Superflex, “Flooded McDonalds” documents the flooding of what appears to be an actual, operational McDonalds restaurant.
At first the restaurant is shown as totally ghosted, dry and in its ordinary state but devoid of customers and staff, as if everyone who was there suddenly rushed off in a panic. There are still trays of food on tables and just-prepared burgers in wrappers in the kitchen.
Then slowly we see a little bit of water seeping through under a door. Over the next ten minutes or so the water rises, as we anticipate and bear witness to the various affects of the water on the restaurant’s interior.
Chairs get moved around, a ubiquitous Ronald McDonald statue is lifted by the tide and eventually gets toppled and ends up floating aimlessly. Some things sink, some things float. A pot of coffee still filled to the brim moves like a bouncy submarine through the flood waters. Cash registers and backlit signs short circuit.
The film is mesmerizing, strangely compelling, and positively droll. At times, it is laugh-out-loud funny, though there there are no jokes.
In fact, the film has no dramatic music, no dialogue, no explanation, nothing but the arrival of more water into what is actually a faithful and convincing reproduction of a working McDonalds restaurant.
“Flooded McDonalds” is entertaining with a nod and a wink. And it is absolutely and truly, to use a favored expression of critics everywhere, “thought-provoking.”
It forces the viewer to ask questions, and not just the kinds of “They call that ‘art’?”- or “What the hell is that?”-type questions that the non-art-appreciating rubes from the sticks would ask.
No, no, you, savvy reader, are pondering thoughtful questions like What the fuck does this say about globalization or the impacts of massive corporations on the environment? Or something like that.
The film draws viewers in with the familiar. The “golden arches” of the McDonalds logo are among the few graphic symbols easily grasped by almost every living human on the planet.
This locks in your attention and forces you the viewer to consider the impending disaster. You know what’s coming, but how exactly it’s going to unfold is the burning question on everybody’s mind.
Eventually, the McDonalds is submerged and destroyed by the deluge, which has now become a filthy stew of flotsam and half-sunken debris. The film captures the event from various camera angles, including from under the water.
This may be art and as such a fiction, but we can only imagine that what we see in the film is how it recently must have played out in real-life in places like Houston, Texas, which experienced massive flooding as a result of Hurricane Harvey and where no doubt there are many McDonalds.
“Flooded McDonalds” was first exhibited in London in 2010, but the film is now showing on a loop at the Hammer Museum of Art in Los Angeles and you can watch an edited behind-the-scenes version online below. GO SEE IT!
Superflex: Why We Flooded McDonald’s from Louisiana Channel on Vimeo.