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Food for Thought

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Super Size Me is a Micheal Moore type documentary about the health hazards of eating fast food on a regular basis. Concerned about the fact that America has become the fattest nation in the world, Morgan Spurlock looks at the hypothesis that part of this tendency is due to the exaggerated amounts of fast food that people are eating combined with their lack of physical exercise. This hypothesis has been the subject of a high-profile trial where two teenage girls sued McDonalds for causing their health problems. The trial was considered valid, but ultimately dismissed as the attorneys failed to prove that McDonalds willfully produced harm to the girls. Did Morgan Spurlock prove the hyphothesis and show unbaised evidence that the girls did not have control over their health problems? Spurlock used biased and exaggerated information in order to sell his theory. Super Size Me is a film that portrays biased and exaggerated information yet raises an alarm for our country to eat healthier.

The truth is not very complicated, although some aspects are not as obvious to everyone. Fast food is dangerous. Even the McDonalds salads have a ridiculously high calorie and sugar content. The sizes of all portions have quadrupled and more since the original fast foods were created. Customers are encouraged to go for the "super size" meal deals and a lot fall for the lure of saving a few cents and doubling the amount of food they get. Customers are subjected to intense advertising and particularly children are a main target of McDonalds campaigns: happy meals, birthday parties, children playgrounds all these make it almost impossible for a parent to deny their kids a McDonalds meal once they had their first one; and once childhood pleasant memories become associated with McDonald', the pleasure of eating there persists as a teenager and even adult. Morgan's solution to that was to "punch my kid in the face each time we pass in front of a McDonalds, this way he wouldn't have pleasant memories about it!"

All the conclusions and aspects above are explored by the documentary as Morgan, starting as a person in above average physical shape, embarks on a 30 day exclusive McDonalds diet in order to analyze its effects on his health. He also limits the physical exercise he usually performs to the average amount an American walks daily and chooses to accept the super-size options each time they are offered to him. Morgan does mention all aspects of the fast-food influence on modern American society, including the fact that people do have the choice to say no to fast food, only it is less convenient for most of them to do so.

However, the overall tone in performing his experiment is one of significant exaggeration. He throws up after his first super-size meal, he points out every minimal reaction that he seems to notice as a result of his diet (mood swings, minor stomach discomforts, etc.). Did his mind control his physical reactions because he wanted to prove his theory? How intuitive was he with his body before his documentary? Was he busier during the film than he was before he started production? These questions floating in my head while I heard about his ailments. His girlfriend (a vegan) compares eating meat with heroin addiction. He gains a total of 24 pounds in a month and apparently his liver is significantly affected to the point where his doctors recommend him to go to the Emergency Room at the smallest sign of discomfort. He forces himself to eat the entire portion even if he feels full. He appears to force himself to eat three such meals a day. Constant, forced consumption or gorging expands stomach size, pure and simple. So sure, Spurlock will gain weight by the end - not because of what he ate but because (by forcing himself) he now eats more than when he started

Another form of biased evidence in the movie is his intentional inclusion of paintings by Ron English. Identified pretentiously in the film as an 'artistic genius', English does grotesqueries of well known products and companies, portraying Ronald MacDonald-like clowns as sinister, inhuman (a half-man, half-pig in one case), abused/abusive, etc. During every new title displayed a new picture in a dark connotation. Under the caption, "The Last Supper," English is portraying Ronald McDonald as Jesus Christ during the last supper. This was appalling and sacrilegious

to me.

One area that bothered me was why a movie about size doesn't bother to consult any fat people. As the title suggests, "Super Size Me" is an investigation into the line between personal and corporate responsibility.



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