March 17, 2014
English Composition II
Would You Like To Super Size That?
What if you ate fast food every day? What if you ate it three times a day for thirty days? After recently watching Super Size Me, a documentary that depicts a problem which is now on the road to overtake smoking as the largest cause of preventable deaths in the U.S., I can say that like Morgan Spurlock, director of Super Size Me, there is a likely chance that the experience would not end pleasantly. In fact, the information provided in this documentary short through Spurlock's research is informative and shocking to some health professionals as well as people on the streets.
Spurlock starts his journey with a few simple rules:
No options: He could only eat what was available over the counter (water included). No super-sizing unless offered.
No excuses: He had to eat every item on the menu at least once. No giving up: He had to eat three square meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. To assist in carefully watching his health and studies, Spurlock employed three doctors to assist him during his journey: a gastroenterologist, a cardiologist, and a general practitioner. All of which agreed that Spurlock was starting this mission with his body being in “above average” health. Some people may ask themselves, why would this above healthy man decide to intentionally make his sustain through liver damage, stomach pains, vomiting, weight gain and even depression? Though many conclusions may be drawn, the answer is in the reaction of the people who see outcome of what too much fast food can do to your overall well-being. Which is exactly why Morgan Spurlock was inspired to address the issues with over indulgence in the U.S. When he came across a recent lawsuit that told the story of two obese teenage girls that were suing McDonald's for making them fat.
In creating this documentary, Spurlock provides the public with an eye-opening examination of the food industry in the U.S.; and finds that the majority of the fast food restaurant’s in America are a McDonald's; Which takes up almost half (43%) of the the nation's fast food restaurants “They're everywhere!” Spurlock expressed in his film after explaining that over sixty percent ( 60% ) of Americans don't get exercise and that the average American walks about five thousand steps a day. Surprising enough? Well, it wasn't to Spurlock as he proceeded with his journey, making one of his first stops at a public school to examine their school lunch program. He finds that most children and adolescents today have a daily menu of nothing but french fries, fried chicken, sloppy joes, pizza and hamburgers with sodas and soft drinks being the beverages of preference. Now an argument can be made that if Americans know that fast food is bad for you, why not just avoid it altogether? If you are not forced to eat it, then why eat it? Well, my thoughts were coming from that angle as well until I recently saw this documentary and now concur that Spurlock has a valid point.
If this is the food these kids are raised on, if the junk food is even readily available in school, how can we expect these kids to choose a healthy lifestyle when they are at their most impressionable? (Super Size Me) I know when I was a child, I had no certain concept of good food or bad food, I just knew that if junk food was available, like many other children, I would eat it. -Why is McDonald's allowed to feature a colorful clown and push their toys, jungle gyms and unhealthy food during the shows our youth watch? Camel cigarettes came under attack years ago for using the same methods in their "Joe Camel" ads (reference).
Throughout this film, Spurlock doesn't hesitate to address the topic of obesity in the US in a both comedic and informational way; One moment he's traveling across the country to the nation's fattest state, Texas, and meets the man who holds the world record for the most Big Mac's ever eaten in a day, and the next minute he's showing Footage of a liposuction operation that is actually pretty graphic. Spurlock seems to be a wildly entertaining narrator in this film, with his style actually reminding me of a notch away from being very similar to Michael Moore, using comedy to bring in his audience. However, unlike Moore who is more known for using his poiltical views to persuade his audience, the evidence and research shown in Spurlock's film can hardly be disputed; Making this documentary that much more disturbing yet effective.
Despite the fact that just a few days into this “Golden Arches” journey, Spurlock had already gotten sick from this diet, he continued on towards his thirty day goal until he reached a point of potential hazard -then he got some expertise to decide if it was even safe for him to complete. As his doctors predicted, his blood cholesterol levels were much higher, he had gained more than ten pounds in two weeks, and his body was just about ready to give up on this thirty day challenge of greasy goodness. Spurlock's doctors even urged him to quit his quest as he may end up with damage that cannot be fixed. In spite of their efforts to persuade him to do otherwise, Spurlok went to the next available McDonald's for his next meal, determined to gather concrete data of the effect of this kind of food over time. Over time and exposure of this documentary, his point will be proven.
Even though Spurlock gained nearly twenty five pounds, had experienced headaches and naseau as well as signs of addiction to McDonald's by the time the experiment had come to a conclusion, his point was definitely not a lost cause. Morgan Spurlock received the best director prize at Sundance, and Super Size Me is already showing its impact. Soon after this documentary was aired, McDonald's announced that they were taking “super sizing” off of the options for their menu, claiming that the change in menu had no connection with the pending release of the film. They also announced a new healthier menu the day before the film was released in theaters; leading me to ask myself if that too, was coincidental.
Towards the end of the film, Morgan addresses the fact that Americans spend more than thirty billion dollars on dieting and diet products alone every year (Super Size Me, Spurlock, Morgan). If all that money is being spent on dieting and more than sixty percent of americans do not exercise and only walk five thousand steps a day, Americans will continue to end up with exactly what they have, some of the fattest people in the world. Throughout history, Amercia has been known for it's ideal of a “bigger is better” kind of lifestyle -but at what cost? The answer to that question lies in films like “Super Size Me” that address the underlying issues in our communites; Like obesity and the general unhealthiness of our population being a major problem that is not going away on it's own. Spurlock's film is a perfect mix of entertainment and education to those who have had the opportunity of watching it. A proceeding question to this film for me would have to be, what's next? We've seen how the effects of poor diet and exercise habits can eventually deteriorate or limit your everyday life, now what are you going to do about it? In the words of Morgan Spurlock:
If this ever-growing paradigm is going to shift, it's up to you. But if you want to keep living this way, go ahead! You may end up getting as sick as I did, or end up in the hospital or cemetery. I guess the real question is, who do you want to go first? Them or you?
Filmeducation.org; Super Size Me
Super Size Me; Spurlock, Morgan
*Experts interviewed; Super Size Me