Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Supersize me? Fast Food’s Power Without Responsibility.

Depending on what side of the sesame seed bun you stand on, it's either

the best or worst of times for the fast food industry. Sure, the fast

food chains have been taking some big hits of late; not least from

Morgan Spurlock's Supersize Me which has helped put burgers and fries

firmly back on – or off – the menu on both sides of the Atlantic.

Spurlock's low budget film – which saw the man behind MTV's I Bet You

Will subsist on a supersized diet of McDonald's for 30 days to

considerable detrimental impact to his health – has been largely

credited with McDonald's preemptive decision to launch the GoActive

Happy Meal one day before the film had its US premiere. Showing

remarkable powers of prescience, McDonald's also decided to employ

Spurlock's weapon of choice – the pedometer – as a free GoActive

giveaway to offset any further criticisms raised by the film's central

contention that McDonald's fails to make its customers aware of the

dangers of a sedentary Big Mac based lifestyle.

The film, which helped Spurlock bag the best director prize at the

Sundance film festival, shows in graphic detail (we see Spurlock

vomiting out of his car window on only the second day of his 30 days in

the wilderness dietary experiment) the effects of a fast food only diet.

Predictable gags about reduced libido aside, Spurlock's film is a

potent and timely reminder of the health dangers associative of

slavishly following a junk food lifestyle. Considered by his medical

team to enjoy above average health before his junk food splurge,

Spurlock's cholesterol level raced to 65 points as he gained an extra 25

pounds and saw his liver turn to the sort of toxic sludge normally

associated with the drinking habits of the more battle hardened

residents of skid row.

Such has been the unexpected success of Spurlock's film that Soso

Whaley, an animal trainer and adjunct fellow of the Washington based

Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank (‘a non-profit public policy

organization dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited

government’), embarked on her own 30 day McDonald's diet as a response

to Supersize Me. Whaley, who claims to have lost 10lbs and dropped her

cholesterol by 40 points, intends to release her own alternative

documentary later in the year. Critics point to the fact that, despite

Whaley's insistence on being baggage free, the Competitive Enterprise

Institute issued a press release claiming that Whaley would &ldquoeat at

McDonald's for 30 days and lose weight” before she had even started the

diet. Whaley herself has also strongly aligned herself with the fast

food giants, decrying Spurlock's efforts as &ldquojunk science”.

Speaking on Paul Harris' St. Louis radio show (&ldquoThe big 550 – KTRS”),

Whaley attacked Spurlock's deplorable assault on McDonald's. “The

thing that really kills me is that Morgan Spurlock claims he’s going

after a corporation or trying to ‘save a population’ but McDonald’s

doesn’t own all of those restaurants. Some of those are owned by

franchisees or families or smaller corporations, so to pick on

McDonald’s is really unfair.”

Following Moore's Law that you cannot be said to have earned your spurs

as a guerilla documentary-maker until you have your own cottage backlash

industry, Spurlock has also managed to raise the collective ire of Tech

Central Station, an ‘award winning news site that focuses on science and

technology at the intersection of public policy.’ According to Tech

Central Station's James K. Glassman, &ldquoSuper Size Me is not a serious

look at a real health problem. It is, instead, an outrageously dishonest

and dangerous piece of self- promotion. Through his antics, Spurlock

sends precisely the wrong image. He absolves us of responsibility for

our fitness. We aren't to blame for being fat; big corporations are!”

Claiming that the numbers don't add up, Tech Central calculate that

Spurlock would need to have eaten more than 5,000 calories a day to

account for his weight gain, yet super-sizing the highest calorie

McDonald's meal every day for 30 days and having the biggest breakfast

every day with hash browns and a large orange juice still creates more

than a 10,000 calorie shortfall. Tech Central Station counts The Coca

Cola Company and McDonald's among its corporate patrons who enjoy a

shared faith in technology and free markets (that the opinions expressed

on the site conveniently dovetail those of contributing corporate

sponsors is mere happenstance).

  • Pages: 1
  • 2
  • 3

Leave a Reply