Why did an 18-year-old Norwegian kid get a tattoo of a McDonald’s receipt on his forearm?
Seriously. There’s no punch line here. It’s a bona fide question. And one that Stian Ytterdahl, the young man in question, can’t seem to answer (at least to the satisfaction of anyone whose brain isn’t muddled by whatever the hell is muddling Ytterdahl’s brain).
“A couple of my friends thought I had been a little too active on [the] women’s front in the past and would punish me,” he is reported as saying.
Even accounting for whatever might be lost in translation, there still doesn’t seem to be a way to salvage that answer for comprehension. Apparently Ytterdahl was given an alternative by his boneheaded friends: He could have opted for a Barbie tattoo on his butt.
“Now I’m a living billboard, but I think all this is just fun,” he says. “Maybe it’s not as fun when I’m 50 or 60 years old, but it’s my choice.”
Forget 50 or 60—try 15 minutes from now, when Ytterdahl’s fame will no doubt have expired.
For its part, McDonald’s Norway adamantly denies this is any sort of corporate-sanctioned publicity stunt, per communications director Margaret Brusletto. “We’re obviously talking about a very loyal customer,” she told the Irish Mirror.
There are several other choice words you could substitute for “loyal” there that would probably be more apt.
Eagle-eyed folks will at least glean a bit of cross-cultural economic comparison from this made-to-go-viral Internet moment. Look closely at Ytterdahl’s new tattoo, and to Americans at least, the tally is almost as shocking as the fact that anyone, anywhere, would ink a McDonald’s receipt on his arm.
A handy currency converter finds that a Mickey D’s soda in Norway will set you back (wait for it)…$4. What appears to be a simple cheeseburger: $6.
All in all, Ytterdahl appears to have dropped more than $20 at McDonald’s for little more than a couple cheeseburgers with extra toppings, a soda, and a McFlurry. And we’re not talking about the overpriced fare of tourist hangs like Times Square. This is in Solheimveien, which doesn't even rate in the top 100 cities of thinly populated Norway.
That’s in keeping with findings from The Economist’s long-running Big Mac Index, “a lighthearted guide to whether currencies are at their ‘correct’ level,” according to the magazine’s website. “It is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity, the notion that in the long run exchange rates should move towards the rate that would equalise the prices of an identical basket of goods and services (in this case, a burger) in two countries.”
Relative to the U.S., Norway has the most expensive Big Macs, an average of $7.51 versus $4.62 in the States.
So maybe this is a case of cultural misunderstanding, that what seems ubiquitous to us Americans, with our 15,000 or so McDonald’s restaurants, is somehow special to Norwegian kids, who have to make do with a paltry 80 red-and-gold eateries, give or take.
Maybe there’s what might be called naive conceptual art genius at work: In making indelible what otherwise might be thoughtlessly crumpled and pitched in the trash, Ytterdahl is unwittingly forcing us to question our own derisive reaction to his stunt and in the process challenging the validity of a fast-food culture in which we consume mindlessly and that has systematically debased our connection to what we eat.
Or maybe he’s just an idiot.