Little Thoughts About “Super Size Me”

She pulled four roast chickens from a Kentucky Fried Chicken bag and divvied them up. One for herself, one for her thirteen year old daughter, one for her twelve year old dughter, and one for my sister and me to share. Then the fixin’s were laid out on the table – potatos, gravy, corn, biscuits and butter.

Those girls, our friends, were obese because they were taught to eat like sumo wrestlers in training.

I blame their mother to some extent, but then again, she was a huge woman and was unknowingly passing her bad relationship with food down to her kids.

Maybe she could sue KFC for making her and her daughters fat.

But, really now, where does a company’s social responsibility end? Should KFC employees be forced to ask, “How many people are you planning to feed with these four chickens? What? Only five? I’m sorry, madam, you’ll have to take your business somewhere else. We care too much about your health to sell you this much food.”

If it worked that way, every business in America would be forced to close down, because no matter what you make or what service you provide, someone somewhere will undoubtedly find a way to misuse it.

So, no, I do not agree with people suing McDonald’s for making them fat.* On the other hand, I hesitate to side with McDonald’s about anything, for the simple reason that the company is an environmental nightmare.

It is with that same reluctance, that I admit to having mixed feelings about the new movie Super Size Me. I wanted to like this movie a lot more than I ended up liking it.

In it, the moviemaker, Morgan Spurlock, uses himself as a McGuineapig to demonstrate just detrimental McDonald’s food can be to a person’s overall health. He eats nothing but their food for a month and gains 20% of his body weight during that time. He also raises his cholesterol and damages his liver.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, he didn’t quite make his case. One thing that kept creeping into my mind was the huge amount of food he was eating on camera. Had he eaten this much before his McDonald’s diet? If he was doubling his intake of food, of course he’d be expected to gain weight. Increasing food intake equals weight gain, and I got the impression throughout the film that he was purposely stuffing himself.

Also, I didn’t like the fact that he gave up any and all exercise during the course of his experiement. It seems that since his keypoint was that the food was the main cause of his weight gain and his health problems, then he’d need to keep his activitiy levels exactly the same as they had been in order to effectively prove his thesis.

I also got the idea that Spurlock was hamming it up a bit for the camera. I mean, how much melodrama can one man squeeze into his consumption of a quarter pounder? The answer may surprise you.

On the other hand, the movie does offer up lots of wonderfully wicked looking paintings of Ronald McDonald for your viewing pleasure. So, by all means, take your kids and scare them away from that cholesterol ridden garbage forever.

The film also brings up a few interesting points relating to how the fast food industry has made it’s way to our children’s schools and the alternative to having them there, so it’s worth seeing once.

And, on a somewhat related note: If you want the whole ugly truth about McDonald’s and you have a strong stomach, you should read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. It’s as disturbing as it is detailed, and it’s very detailed.

*That said, I think that making it unlawful to sue fast food companies sets a dangerous pre
cedent
. Lawsuits should be judged on a case by case basis and stupid, frivilous ones should be thrown out of court. But, ultimately, setting up legislation like that to protect these corporate giants would effect civil rights in America.

Comments 8

  • FFN is an extremely disturbing book. you are justlaughing at th efirst couple of chapters while smiultaneously shaking your head at the strangeness of it all, and then, bam… you hit the section on abbatoirs. ughhhh

  • Thanks for the book title. I think I will check it out. I liked the movie a lot. The thing that struck me most was how they hook kids into the whole thing. I had never looked at like that before. My son could say Mc Donalds really early and we had no tv, we live in a community with no Mc Donalds. He could still point out the golden arches and know what it was. Scary. My husband and I have always refered to it as Scrawny Ronies, or just Scrawny’s so I’m not even sure where my son got the name. As parents though I think it is our responsibility to teach our children about nurtition. In the end it is our responsibility to keep the safe and healthy. We do this by cooking at home, teaching them how advertising is trying to fool them, being active with them, and keeping the surgar and junk food to a minimum. It is surprising however, how many people are poorly informed about nutrition. I have friends who pack their kids chocolate covered, chocolate chip granola bars for their kids’ lunches as a healthy snack.

    Take care,
    Nik

  • I saw this film. It left me a bit doubtful too as to exactly how much meaning the whole thing could have. As you said, the methodology wasn’t exactly “scientific,” so to speak. It did get a general point across that McDonald’s food is really yucky and can be bad for you, but the details seemed a bit sketchy. At least I’m more motivated now to avoid fast food.

  • I agree with you that we wouldn’t expect McDonald’s or KFC to ask each customer how many people they intend to feed with their order, but civil litigation often produces odd results. In an unrelated case, the tobacco companies now have to tell users not to use the product they sell, they have to prove they aren’t marketing it to minors and they now have to pay to help people stop using their product (at least, in New Orleans they do after a recent court case). While the tobacco companies are far more insidious (in my opinion) than the fast food companies and offer a far more dangerous product, the fact still remains that as a result of civil litigation, they are now required — not to make their product safer — but to discourage the very consumers they’re trying to court, from using it.

  • McGuineapig. I LOVE IT!!!!! 🙂

    The only part that really disturbed me was the toxic liver. I mean, yes, as you say, weight gain in this scenario is inevitable. But a toxic liver!? Good Lord! This IS supposed to be food, after all, not Monsanto Carpets.

    (Although I’m sure someone could find a way to make Monsanto Carpets taste good.)

    There’s a scene in Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman’s book Good Omens where “Famine” (incarnation of the four horsemen of the apocalypse) sits in a fast food restaurant with a “meal” with absolutely no nutritional content at all. And is very proud of himself. That’s what that kind of food reminds me of, every single time.

    But that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes take guilty pleasure in eating it. SOMETIMES being the key word here.

  • i read ffn but haven’t seen supersize me yet. i agree with your statement — i’m a little tired of exaggerated polemic, even when it’s polemic with which i’m inclined to agree.

    for me, the worst part of the ffn book was the part about how they treat the employees. i mean, the food sucks, but people want it. no one wants to be treated like an animal as an employee.

  • me personally, i love mc donalds, i have it all the time and im a big fatty but i dont care cause it tastes good to me!!!

  • and if u have anything to say, kiss my ass or email me at alex_bartlett@hotmail.com, im a tubby,,,,
    MCy D’s foverva

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