I can’t imagine Slavoj Žižek, the frenetic philosopher and sex symbol, has many occasions to eat Taco Bell. This means that it’s safe to say we won’t be reading his thoughts on their new Naked Chicken Chalupa anytime soon. I think that’s a shame, because it is actually a pretty interesting chalupa, and Žižek is renowned for his outside-the-box analysis and eclectic writing style. So here’s how I imagine his ideas about the Naked Chicken Chalupa might read, should he ever get stoned past midnight and realize he forgot his credit card in Slovenia and that he only has three dollars and some loose Parliaments on him. When else do you eat Taco Bell?
We can see that Taco Bell, in spite of their globalist wisdom, has misnamed this so-called “naked chalupa.” It is like the art critic John Berger once said, “To be naked is to be oneself.” Yet the nakedness of this chalupa does not come from its status as a pure being, a sublime entity; in other words, the perfectly Real chalupa, as Lacan would say. Instead, it is only born bare in the sense that we are fetishizing its inversion, the chicken itself as the shell, the fetus turned womb, and so on and so on. You can only be nude if you are clothed because the clothes obscure the objects of desire. We then see that nudity is the symbolic object elevated and misrecognized by the observer. In this way, we should instead be discussing Taco Bell’s new “Nude Chicken Chalupa.”
I am reminded here of course of the old Soviet joke about the peasant and the grain collector: The Soviet grain collector, you know, is traveling in the countryside, making sure harvests are as they should be. He is talking with one particular peasant about his yield when the peasant complains that they are giving so much grain to the State that they have to make their bread partially with dirt. The collector replies, “I assure you it still tastes better than the bread in the Gulag!” This nude chalupa is how I imagine that Gulag bread must have tasted.
As we have already mentioned, the novelty of this chalupa is in its inversion, the fake and unnaturally shaped chicken on the outside rather than in. It is one of the great powers of capitalism that it can convince people that misshapen meat paste is somehow desirable. In reality, it tastes like stale saltine crackers. Beyond the chicken, we have to endure that which it contains: vegetables that still taste of the exploitative wages used to harvest them, cheese that is a condiment, not a culture, and so on. I guess the avocado ranch is a highlight, though. I suggest, then, that the only way to find real pleasure in eating this chalupa is to hope, at least, that the hot sauce packet you use to numb your taste buds has one of the funny messages on it.
If transference is the apriorism that behind the absurdity of the Law there is some sort of Truth, then so too is it the belief that behind a chalupa that costs $2.99 and smells of urine there could be some sort of Taste. I mean, seriously! If you tried to give these things to Napoleon’s soldiers in the dead of the winter of 1812, they would call you a monster!
Would you be surprised if I told you that eating at Taco Bell captures perfectly our perverse ideology? Nobody in their right mind sets out to consciously indulge in a shitty culinary experience. That would be sadistic. Rather, they have been induced by ideology to find, in some sense, enjoyment through the disappointment of eating shitty food. It is a reminder that we only exist through our false consciousness, not that we ate Taco Bell because we thought it might be good, but that we only ate Taco Bell because we knew deep down that it never could be good; in other words, we can have expectations, as well as have them thoroughly shattered by underpriced fast food. In the case of the Nude Chicken Chalupa, it is appropriate then to use Marx’s famous phrase, ‘Sie wissen das nichts, aber Sie tun es’ – ‘They don’t know it, but they are doing it.’ When we go to Taco Bell, we don’t know that we’re condemning ourselves to several hours on the toilet, but we are doing it nonetheless.