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really disgusting, by design
on 17 August 2011
Ok, I greatly enjoyed this film, in all its misinformation and grotesquerie. Spurlock (only Dickens could have coined a better name for him) wanted to show that with dietary excess, comes personal horror and poor health. He did, by consuming approximately 5000 calories a day or more, with three super-sized meals a day at McDonald's. He also quit exercising.
Well, anyone who ate that much would get sick and fat. I have returned to the US after 6 years in Europe, and I am SHOCKED by what a normal portion is in the US. Fast food is not designed to be eaten that much, and I bet not even McDonald's executives would want him to eat like that. So, in the end, this film and his expanding waistline and alarming health indicators are purposefully engineered. If you look at what he did in this way, it is disingenuous.
It is sad that many less-educated Americans do as he did, albeit they do over a slightly longer period of time than one month of supersizing. He just did it more purely, and by conscious effort. That is what is valuable about this film: he demonstrates, with his own body, what some less educated people do as a matter of course over several years.
Spurlock is similar to Michael Moore, if a lesser talent. By exaggeration and grotesque simplification, they make great propaganda. I identify somewhat with their agenda and respect the way that they stir the pot - otherwise, the fat would rise to the top - but their work is not the kind of investigative journalism that starts out without message already chosen. It is a kind of muckraking entertainment, edumuckraking if you will.
That being said, the impact of this film is positive in balance, I believe. It gets people to think - at least in my case. It is a great spur to discussion, even if I disagree in the end. Spurlock is a bit like Seymour Hersh, but is more entertaining than the great investigative journalist, and he doesn't pretend to be all that objective.
The impact of this film is visceral disgust, and it does it phenomenally well. But there is another side in the details, and I believe, in the sincerity of people who are concerned with these issues within McDonald's. From experience (and I am not a McDonald's employee), I know that there are many McDonald's executives who care personally about what their company does, all within the limits of their business model; they are trying to change their company for the common good. I admit, I am impressed by many of them. Their company may not be perfect, but it is beginning to listen to some of its critics. Spurlock's film would be better if it had more balance.
Recommended, but exercise your critical intelligence!