Angry locals have described the interior as offensive and tasteless, because it’s stereotyping the neighborhood, and seen as “another misguided attempt by suits to identify with ‘edgy’ Brixton.” Almost a year ago the neighborhood was hit by protests against the rapid gentrification and its consequences, like rising rents and expensive shops. Now that a large multinational like McDonald’s is embracing the ‘coolness’ of the area, really feels like it’s over with Brixton.
The commodification of street culture and other aspects of ‘urban cool’ has been going on for a while, and hipster culture has spread to every corner of the earth. But this interior tells us something new. By adopting the visual culture of a neighborhood in a very early, raw stage of gentrification, the fast food corporation shows that the mainstream’s tolerance for ‘cool’ is changing. A McDonald’s restaurant with graffiti art on its walls was cool five years ago but not anymore, while a restaurant covered in tags was too trashy back in 2011 but now very ‘edgy’.