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Super Size Me

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While my brother was visiting we went to see Super Size Me [IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, official] and OMG was it ugly. The poster is ugly, the fat people are ugly and the filming looks like it was done on a digital camera and hence looks ugly as well on the big screen.

Super Size Me But the film, documenting its maker, Morgan Spurlock, feeding himself on McDonald's food exclusively for a month, is onto something. The statement that fast food is unhealthy may not come as a surprise to most, but this is a very hands-on illustration. You see Morgan get completely out of shape, gain ten kilos and completely shock his doctors just by eating fast food exclusively. You wanted evidence that eating this stuff can seriously damage you? There you've got it. The effects on his liver were compared to those seen in alcoholics and foie gras came to mind when the doctors spoke of the organ itself. In fact the doctors didn't seem to believe that such a quick deterioration by food was possible.

Most of this seems to come down to all the unnecessary fat and sugar in the junk food you are sold. Which probably isn't 'unnecessary' as Morgan looked a bit like an addict: at first his body revolted against the food – hooray puking in cinema! – but then he didn't seem to mind the food itself. He even said it made him feel good at the moment he ate it. And bad as well as inert at the others. Thus the impact of the food wasn't only physical. You are what you eat or so.

And, while physically less impressive, that psychological impact of the food looks far more scary. In particular when you see how it is aimed at kids. They show school lunches in the middle of the film and apparently it's possible to serve proper fresh and may be even healthy food instead of readymade junk at the same cost. So why the hell are schools filling corporate coffers instead of changing the kids' lives for the better? Evades me.

Three burgers

If we assume for a second that those large food corporations aren't evil but just trying to make profits, we have to conclude that you can't make good money from selling proper food because it's more profitable to lure people into eating bad food. So perhaps some incentives for food suppliers such as a fast food tax would be in place. Or simply paying your damn employees proper wages. They said in the film that about half the meals in the US are not eaten at home. And having seen on my recent visit there that a decent home cooked meal is easily as expensive as as eating out, you can see why people will do this – particularly when they don't have a lot of money and to work long hours for it. Levelling the playing field here might help.

There are many other cool moments in the film: Morgan's vegan girlfriend comparing bacon to heroin, People enjoy heroin; some other guy pointing out that by the same logic that people use when approaching smokers and telling them how much they hurt themselves, we can approach fat people, And you don't even think about dessert; or the guy who claims that 90% of his solid food intake consists of BigMacs, yet wasn't excessively fat (probably because he's a BigMac only person, no fries no large Coke); and the pursuit of the majority of nutritionists that McDonald's mention who think that fast food isn't bad for you, ... and when there've been big anthrax attacks and there's nothing else to eat, then you could eat fast food.

This film may be overhyped and it may not change much but it is interesting nontheless. I quite like this personal style of documentary where people actually go places and do things themselves rather than presenting polished shoots with a voice-over by a news presenter.

As The Moldy Peaches sing: These Burgers are Crazy

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

July 21, 2004, 20:54

Tagged as business, fast food, film, food, mcdonalds, morgan spurlock.


Comment by Bill Andersen: User icon

Let me tell about the impact of the film on myself. I an an engineer that really doesn’t have a life so I have not heard about the film until my wife brought it home last Friday. I was completely floored by the film. I am not a McDonalds food eater I would say I may eat there once every two month period and only because there is no Wendys or Burger King near my home. However I drink a steady stream of Pepsi. At work I typically make 3 trips to the Pepsi machine for a 20 ounce Pepsi. I will have another one when I get home from work as well. It would be fair to say that I drink about a half gallon of the stuff a day. I would say as well that I am obese; 265 lbs. and just under 6 feet tall.

So for me the most poignant part of the film was the interview with the extremely obese fellow that had dunk himself into temporary blindness by consuming roughly 3 to 4 , 2-liter bottles of “soda-water” per day as he called it. The film showed him have a stomach staple or a gastric-bypass; I am not sure which because I could not watch it was just to disgusting for me to bear. The surgery was filmed in grotesque detail with classical/ballet type music such that I got the feeling that his surgeons were really performing ballerinas and they performed with exquisite technique and virtuosity. I saw the humor of the piece but it was way to dark for me.

That was it for Pepsi and me we have parted ways. I filled my 2-liter bottle with water and have been drinking H2O ever since. I woke up in the middle of the night last night with a horiffic head-ache. My eyes felt completely surrounded by throbbing pain that reminded me of that pain over again with every beat of my heart. I felt a terrific sense of depression and my whole body groaned in agony. I instinctively quoted one of the lines from the film; “my body officially hates me now.”

My day at work Today was the worst ever. I was the most worthless employee and could not keep my mind on track for more than five minutes. I continued in my depression only to come out of it very momentarily when engaged by some office mate. After these few resurfaces into the world of the living I quickly sank back into the deep dark depression that I have made for myself. I am sure that I will be myself again in a few more days or maybe a week. I am feeling a hatred for Pepsi now because of the abyss I am wading through but I can’t be sure that I will always feel this way. I wonder If I will pick it up again some day as I wonder I Spurlock will eat at McDonalds in the future on occasion, off camera.

January 31, 2006, 4:18

Comment by ssp: User icon

Thanks for sharing your experiences Bill. And good luck getting off the sugar addiction, or whatever it is technically called.

January 31, 2006, 16:06

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