By Christine Spines
Updated May 06, 2009 at 12:00 PM EDT

Earlier today, a hungry mob of New Yorkers (the millennial generation’s version of an angry mob) staged a ’60s-style sit-in at a Manhattan KFC restaurant. Why? They were protesting the store manager’s refusal to honor coupons for the fast food chain’s new grilled chicken courtesy of the karma-grubbing cultural icon Oprah Winfrey. Funny and absurd, sure. But I can’t help but see this kerfuffle as evidence of either the beginning of the end of all that’s good in the world or (pause for sip of Obama-flavored Kool-Aid) the return of power-to-the-people engagement.

The obvious response is to look at the entitlement of those free-chicken seekers as crass and pathetic. I mean, how could any fast food really be worth generating a storm of righteous indignation? And what about that Scrooge-like, power-crazed KFC store manager, who allegedly refused to play along and serve up the finger lickin’ goodness to which anyone with an Internet connection is entitled. These are tough times and cheap thrills are hard to come by, much less free ones. That’s tough medicine.

But how is it that chicken inspires the kind of politicized grass-roots action that hardly anybody mustered in the face of nonstop indignities (stuff like White House-approved torture, corporate corruption, and the demise of newsprint)? Does this mean that we’re still capable of getting mad as hell and not taking it anymore? Or does it mean that nobody can be bothered unless it involves a free lunch? What’s your take on what this means for the future of humanity — or the power of Oprah — PopWatchers?

addCredit(“Oprah Winfrey: Jeffrey Mayer/”)