These two friends played a prank on a McDonald's to make an important point about representation
If you're into movies, then this year's been a pretty good one for the idea of representation in mainstream film. Coming off the back of movies like Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name, 2018 kicked off in earnest with Marvel's Black Panther, while last month we saw Crazy Rich Asians shoot to the top of the box office in similar fashion.
For a long time, movie executives were reluctant to put women or people of colour front and centre of any huge release, and it's refreshing to see these movies turn massive profits. There are plenty of industries, however, still in need of better representation, and in a McDonald's, Jevh Maravilla hatched a plan to bring representation to the fast food industry.
Maravilla, who is of Filipino heritage, was sitting underneath the Golden Arches in Houston, Texas. It's a great experience for any and all of us who love a good fast food fix, but during his meal, Maravilla looked up at the walls, and he noticed something rather strange.
"There were no Asians," Maravilla revealed, and in the 21st century, that simply wouldn't do. So, he enlisted his friend Christian Toledo to help him pull off a legendary prank on McDonald's, which also had the added effect of hopefully making everyone aware of the power of representation.
Together, they made it their mission to smuggle in their own poster to McDonald's, and hang it up without anybody noticing. Toledo and Maravilla managed it, and then some. But first, let's dive a little bit deeper into the prank itself.
Maravilla decided that the best poster to introduce into that McDonald's was one depicting the two guys as students. "We took the photo outside the neighbourhood events centre while a Zumba class was going on," he explained, and then edited the background to ensure that the design had a same dotted pattern as the other posters in the McDonald's restaurant.
Here's where things get decidedly Ocean's Eleven. Having identified a blank wall where he wanted to put the poster, Maravilla knew he'd need help to pull off this heist, recruiting some more of his friends to make sure everything went off without a hitch. "I needed one friend to record and two friends to help me hang it up," he explained, as he donned the perfect disguise.
Wearing a McDonald's worker's shirt, Jevh Maravilla became "Jeff Bergara, Regional Interior Coordinator", and the plan was set into motion. "I was very, very nervous," Maravilla revealed, but it didn't show, with the poster going onto the wall, and adhesive placed on the back for when the authorities noticed.
It took a while.
Pulling off the prank on July 13, the poster's been up ever since, and Jevh Maravilla says this stunt is his way of talking about Asian representation in popular culture.
"We all deserve equality and all races deserve recognition. I don't know why McDonald's marketing didn't include Asians, but often in the media Asian men are not shown as masculine and Asian women are just portrayed as cute and pretty. When I was growing up, Asian people only appeared in movies as martial artists or funny side characters."
It's a good point - and one well made by this young man and his outlandish prank. Let's hope that this year's just the beginning when it comes to better representation.