Super Size Me


Directed by: Morgan Spurlock
Written by:Morgan Spurlock
Released: June 3, 2004
Grade: B+

There’s a great discussion in Super Size Me which compares society’s opinions of cigarette smoking and obesity.  These days, we look down upon smokers with distaste.  There are continually ads on television warning people of the risks, we have banned smoking in almost every public place, and lobby groups have successfully sued tobacco companies for incredibly large amounts.

Conversely, we care little about obesity.  Our consumption of fast food has sky rocketed in recent years and the advertising is targeted towards getting children hooked at a young age.  Research currently shows that 37% of America’s children and 67% of America’s adults are overweight.  Similar trends are developing across the globe.

If you look at these two issues objectively, you’ll see there isn’t much of a difference.  Obesity is now the 2nd most leading cause of preventable death in America and statistics show that it will pass smoking in the near future.  I can criticise someone for smoking but if I criticise someone for being fat, then I’m considered a politically incorrect asshole.  Strange, isn’t it?

The point of Super Size Me is to further raise publicity awareness about obesity and look at how giant corporations (specifically McDonalds) are doing everything they can to make sure you keep eating their foods.  Director Morgan Spurlock thought of the idea when two girls unsuccessfully tried to sue McDonalds as the cause of their obesity.  To prove the effects that fast food can have on the human body, he decided to eat nothing but McDonalds food for a whole month!  If it wasn’t on the menu, he couldn’t touch it.  And, if they offered to “super size” his meal, he had to say “yes”.

This documentary features a mixture of footage.  Part is video footage of Spurlock’s experiment and the analysis of specialists who monitor his body stats throughout the month.  The other part of the film features interviews from a variety of others (including people of the street) weighing into the debate over the effects of fast food.  Super Size Me has been compared to Michael Moore’s Bowling For Columbine but I do not believe it to be in the same league.  It is good film but it doesn’t have the style Columbine.  Further, Super Size Me repeats a lot of information I already knew whereas Columbine looked at problems swept deeper under the carpet.

Still, it’s amazing viewing and more interesting the standard Hollywood comedy.  At my packed out screening, there were many gasps and shocked reactions from the audience.  This can only be a good thing.  Some will criticise the film for being too one sided but unfortunately that’s the way it has to be.  McDonalds and other fast food corporations have had their say on many occasions.  This is just a right of reply.

As a footnote, I bumped into both Morgan Spurlock and his girlfriend (who appears in the film) today at the AFL game between Brisbane and Melbourne.  It was nice to see him take the time to talk to us and he’s told me that he’s a big fan of the AFL having watched in on ESPN back in the States.  Spurlock is making a few appearances at screenings around the country to help promote his film.

If you need further convincing, I’ll close with some more facts that show how big this problem has become and how far we have to go before it can be solved…

·       Each day, 1 in 4 Americans visits a fast food restaurant.

·       French fries are the most eaten vegetable in America.

·       You would have to walk for seven hours straight to burn off a Super Sized Coke, fry and Big Mac.

·       One in every three children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.  Diabetes will cut 17-27 years off your life.

·       Only seven items on McDonald's entire menu contain no sugar.

·       McDonald's distributes more toys per year than Toys-R-Us.

·       Before most children can speak they can recognize McDonald's.

·       Most nutritionists recommend not eating fast food more than once a month.