Today sees the release of a movie called Fast Food Nation, based on the 2001 book by Eric Schlosser of the same name. If you’ve ever read this book, you’ll know what irritates me about it.

Like other leftist dross in the same vein, it’s dressed up as ‘investigative reporting’ – an ‘examination’ – of the history and growth of the fast food industry. Underneath, apart from its mostly civil biographies of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc and others, it belongs in the ‘horror’ part of the ‘fiction’ section. Fast food is an easy target; merely by drawing on the bombshell moments that occur when you describe food production techniques in detail, one can convince any reader that fast food is a horrible, objectionable invention. Such reactions are easy to produce, especially when aggrandising accounts are told using select adjectives and carefully chosen truths. Unfortunately that isn’t ‘investigative reporting’ at all, purely charlatanism. Schlosser builds a man out of french fries, and then proceeds to tear him to shreds.

Even when Fast Food Nation goes on to talk about the success of the fast food industry, marketing techniques, demographics, and many other things, the most prosaic details take on the damning feel of the rest of the book. By the time Schlosser finishes giving the grisly details of how hamburger meat is prepared, the sentence ‘Ray Kroc believed in Santa Claus’ could become loaded with incriminating significance, even though it means absolutely nothing.

Anyway, I don’t need to tell most of the readers of this blog about the methods used by anti-corporates to persuade the masses of the evils of a burger and fries; most of you already know that.

The book is regarded as nonfiction. I regard it to be nonfiction in the same way that Michael Moore’s ‘Bowling For Columbine’ is nonfiction: ARGUABLY. But the movie based on it does not pretend to be nonfiction. It is a ‘fictional adaptation’ of the book. So. Like ‘Super-Size Me’, this movie has the capacity to take this paranoia to another level. When you can use music and menacing images and ‘Ugh’ moments and sinister voiceovers (all of which Spurlock did on ‘Super-Size Me’) and you can make use of paid celebrities like Bruce Willis, Avril Lavigne and Kris Kristofferson, and you can set up scenes and write scripts to make your point, you have the capacity to buy the emotions of the masses for your cause.

Fast Food Nation premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, where not even the faint whiff of carnivora can be smelled, and is due to be released to theatres here in the fast-food demon-possessed United States of America tomorrow. From what I’ve seen, it appears to focus on the pitiable workers of the fast-food industry more than anything. I don’t understand how a job paying $6 an hour at McDonald’s is worse than not having a job at all, or how voluntarily joining the staff of your local Burger King is the equivalent of being in some kind of forced labour or something… but – believe me – that barely grazes the surface of the differences there are between my worldview and that of the schmucks that made this film.

On the movie’s website, the flash movie presents some ‘facts’ about fast food.

“Americans spend $134 billion per year on fast food, much of it filled with toxic trans fat.” Aside from the fact that this detail is redundant – see my article here for the reason why – the adjective “filled” is clearly bizarre, a nicely emotive, amplified and, like the book, an imaginative version of the truth.

“The average fast food meal is shipped 1500 miles. Lots of artificial preservatives keep it ‘fresh’.” So fricking what? There’s a constituent out there who only need to see the word ‘artificial’ to conclude that it’s obviously evil and obviously going to kill you eventually. The glasses on their faces would seem to suggest otherwise, of course. I don’t know what in hell this ‘fact’ is supposed to prove, and I can’t understand what is meant to be so awful about preservatives. By the way, the image accompanying this scene on the website is of a truck running over a cute, furry rabbit in the countryside. No explanation, no particular link; but roadkill emphasises the point, I guess.

“A typical burger may contain pieces of over 1000 different cows and a little serving of their manure.” Yes, when beef is ground and mixed to produce burger patties, it is mixed enough that there could be thousands of cows involved in the product. And, the point is what exactly? If the number of cows involved in a single burger could be reduced, would it be a better product somehow? What would be the maximum number of cows acceptable to the creators of Fast Food Nation? 500? 90? 3? This is a truly pathetic spin on reality.

And the bit about the manure is even more contrived. Food safety with regard to E. Coli and other fecal bacteria has always been an issue, and would be, regardless of whether the fast food industry existed or not. That’s why we have the FDA and the EPA and so many food quality standards throughout all food industries – as if the filmmakers didn’t know that. Those standards have IMPROVED during the time the fast food industry has been in existence, not worsened. It is plainly fraudulent to try and imply that the fast food industry is the cause of the proliferation of any such pathogens, and to provoke a freaked-out reaction from the public by telling them that they’re eating manure is at best shameful, and at worst categorically malicious.

As far as I can tell, seeing this movie would be like being in the back of a taxicab whose driver is an obsessive compulsive conspiracy theorist. Such ramblings may be entertaining, but aren’t worth a second’s heeding.

What’s more: if you think I’m irritated by the fact that this malevolent hogwash exists, you people living in the United Kingdom should be even more piqued, for this piece of hogwash exists on your dime. That’s right, suckers – BBC Films helped put up the cash for this propaganda – your cash, obtained, as we well know, by forcing all TV watchers to pay an annual Licence Fee. If you doubt that they would actually have the gall to take the money they get from this form of taxation and use it to pay for such a project, check out this Guardian story from February of this year.

I gotta tell you, folks, this movie stinks worse than the grease pit at your local McDonald’s. But here’s the difference: McDonald’s doesn’t serve you that shit. Only the BBC does that.

John Wright