spurlock and friesI’m bumping this post to the top for a re-read as the debate relates to personal responsibility. Spurlock’s 30 Days has aired for three seasons.


February 2007

Dear friends,

I write because I see that your Paragon of Reasoning, Morgan Spurlock – the man who finally leaked to the world hard evidence of the villainous evil of Ronald McDonald; Morgan Spurlock – the man who proved for once and for all that fast food is fundamentally, inherently, horribly depraved; Morgan Spurlock – the man who “went through hamburger hell” for you (God bless him thrice), is coming out with another ‘documentary’.

According to Geoffrey Macnab at the Guardian:

“Next to nothing has been divulged to the public about the film other than that it is something to do with Osama bin Laden and that it is in Spurlock’s usual irreverent vein.”

Oh, goodie! The butterflies in my stomach and excitement in my groin remind me of how I felt when I first watched ‘Super-Size Me!’, Morgan’s magnum opus, his greatest accomplishment to date. It was wonderful, wasn’t it? And such rave reviews, even if only from friendly quarters such as the liberal readers of the Guardian newspaper, who write:

“While the idea behind Super Size Me was good, the film itself was painfully self-indulgent twaddle punctuated by sometimes lame/sometimes puerile jokes and embarrassing dialogue between the not terribly bright protagonist and his not terribly bright girlfriend.”

Oops. How did that come to be the first comment to the above story at the Guardian? Well, the other comments were much more positive; comment number 2 for example:

“On reflection, the idea for Super Size Me was not so good either, only the supposed intention, which then turned out to be a good excuse to indulge in some Jackass-type larking and thrill-seeking. The result was a home video.”

Er, comment number 3 and beyond?

“Supersize Me was really weak…”

“I didn’t like Supersize Me that much but always enjoy seeing MacDonalds get bad publicity…”

“Supersize Me took 90 mins to tell us that only eating MacDonald’s burgers is bad for you. What a revelation!”

“After the revelations in Supersize Me, I can only speculate this is an equally earth shattering expose – perhaps about the Pope’s alleged Catholicism?”

Friends – liberal, conservative, libertarian – I know many of you loved this film because I’ve heard you say it often. But let me share with you an important, rather pertinent fact regarding ‘Super-Size Me!’, lest anything but truth be the order of the day.

‘Super-Size Me!’ was bullshit. From ideology to ideal to idea, from premise to application, from composition to execution, from beginning to end, the film was a lamentable pile of malodorous, humming bullshit; flakey and cretinous, foolish and unconvincing, vacuous and lame, demented and gratuitous, wrongheaded and disingenuous, intellectually dull, ideologically crippled, cerebrally unbolted, philosophically defective, conked out, half-baked, hare-brained, ill-judged, field-fresh, luke-warm, steaming, noxious bullshit.

What was the point? What point was proven in ‘Super-Size Me!’, other than that the act of shocking one’s docile, green digestive tract by stuffing large amounts of fried food repeatedly into it for 30 consecutive days will make you vomit? The man is a fucking moron. That this movie received a single critical nod infuriates me to no end.

It was billed as an experiment, with doctors on hand to verify the results. Where did he learn this scientific method? If truth-telling was ever a priority, he may have wanted to find out if the results are the same in his locally-owned Mom and Pop hamburger shop as they are in the drive-through of a multinational corporation. If truth-telling was a priority, he may have wanted to use other volunteers, including – perhaps – some who didn’t happen to have vegan girlfriends cooking for them before the experiment (just a thought). If truth-telling was a priority, he may have wanted to find out if McDonald’s food can be a component of a healthy diet (in other words, eaten less frequently than always), with burgers and fries as treats, salads and wraps too, a combination of home-cooked meals and eating out.

But telling the truth was not his priority. Spurlock was more interested in advancing his reckless form of evangelism (more on that in a moment).

At least one independent experiment was later conducted, by Soso Whaley in response to ‘Super-Size Me!’ She doubled the duration of the experiment to 60 days, and ate exclusively at McDonald’s. She combined her McDonald’s diet with exercise three times a week, and – like Spurlock – ate everything on the menu including the salads and wraps, burgers and fries. She lost 18 pounds. ‘What?’, I hear you ask. ‘No gratuitous on-screen vomiting? No horrible bloating or weight gain? No nauseous babbling about how “the system is wrong”, “the system is wrong”? No doctors melodramatically telling her that she might die at any moment? What apostasy!

Now the point of Whaley’s independent experiment was not to suggest that everyone should join the McDonald’s diet. One’s mileage will vary, and a McDonald’s-only diet certainly doesn’t sound like a very enjoyable or valuable dietary routine. Nor was its point to propagandise the tenets of any particular political ideology (unlike Spurlock’s experiment, which was an exercise in crusading). Her point was to prove that ‘Super-Size Me!’ is bullshit.

And so it is.

Not only that, Spurlock knew it was bullshit when he was still concocting the damned thing, and anticipated the criticism in the final minutes of the documentary:

[Voiceover]: “Over the course of my McDiet, I consumed 30 pounds of sugar from their food. That’s a pound a day. On top of that, I also took in 12 pounds of fat. Now, I know what you’re saying. You’re saying nobody’s supposed to eat this food three times a day. No wonder all this stuff happened to you. But the scary part is: there are people who eat this food regularly. Some people even eat it every day. So, while my experiment may have been a little extreme, it’s not that crazy.”

First, jackass, it wasn’t an experiment; it was a cheap device of ideological idiocy. Second, the people who “eat this food regularly” could be eating it “regularly” once a month, or “regularly” once a week, without any ill-effects. Most people who are eating at McDonald’s aren’t barfing out of their car windows or becoming socialists from the experience. If we deal with reality we have an entirely different discussion, bearing no relation to Spurlock’s bizarre ‘experiment’. Perhaps he should Google ‘moderation’? As for eating it “every day”, if there is anyone alive who eats like Spurlock did in this movie, they deserve whatever consequences they get.

And this is the point. The asshead Spurlock assumes that we’re just a hoard of lemmings and are incapable of moderating, regulating, determining or judging for ourselves what we eat and what we don’t. We’re unintelligent, simpleminded. We’re certainly not as smart as Spurlock; we’re herds of sheep, and need a lesson in health management demonstrated for us super theatrically lest we don’t understand how to digest judiciously. And that, dear friends, is the real message of ‘Super-Size Me!’, underneath all the poppycock.

Don’t think so? Well, let him carry on:

[Voiceover, continued]: “But here is a crazy idea: Why not do away with your super-size options? Who needs 42 ounces of Coke? A half pound of fries? And why not give me a choice besides french fries or french fries? That would be a great start.”

A great start on the road to what, the ‘McDonald’s Lemongrass & Horseradish Salad Bar’? If what Spurlock really wants is to open a health food restaurant, he should fuck off and do it. A choice between “french fries or french fries”? You had a choice, numbnuts, and you chose to eat at McDonald’s! From where did he get the idea that McDonald’s ambition is to provide every conceivable dietary option, for the entire daily sustenance and nutriment of the human body?

Presumably Spurlock finds his local mom-and-pop hamburger places even more horrifying in this regard; at least McDonald’s serves grilled chicken and salads. The burger joints which sell only burgers and fries – In-N-Out, for example – must make him practically bilious. (Why didn’t he make his film about them?) And what does he think most people were eating while in the process of watching his ghastly flakfest at the cinema; tofu? Granola? They were scarfing high-calorie popcorn, M&Ms and Coke, and guess what: they weren’t offered a much healthier choice! Spurlock’s comments here must logically extend to every food business that fails to serve the variety of food that you could base your entire diet on, including movie theatre concessions. (Try eating that for 30 days, douchebag.) Condemn New York City hotdog carts also, unless they offer a celery option, donut shops unless they provide oatmeal, Italian restaurants unless they serve calorie-light salads… and so on. What a wonderful, sanitised world lies at the heart of Spurlock’s fallacious idealism.

Well, you may be surprised to learn that McDonald’s took his advice. The super-size options were removed shortly after ‘Super-Size Me!’ was released. And here’s what it means: you people are stupid. You should never be offered a 42-ounce drink in the first place (the very idea!). You clearly can’t be trusted to be responsible with a super-size serving of fries (even if you’re sharing) and you are incapable of making your own decisions about what to eat in general. Spurlock, though, has achieved enlightenment. He saw, before anyone else, the harm that McDonald’s was doing to you without your knowledge. He’s a prophet! He is bringing His Word to you in the form of celluloid, like the tablets of stone from Mount Sinai. “I am the Prophet Spurlock, who brought thee out of the land of bondage, from the house of McDonald’s,” he says. “Thou shalt not have boundless quantities of unwholesome food, even on thy birthday. Thou shalt not build thy house serving fries alone.” Heed his words, or you’ll be punished.

Come to think of it, the whole thing has a very religious feel to it. He went to McDonald’s in your place and took the full wrath of the burgers for you so that you wouldn’t have to, but he rose again and now He wants to come into your heart and live within you through His political philosophy as you spread the Good News found in his Holy Film and bring others to know Him too, thus saving them from the burgers and, eventually, replacing even the desire to eat them in the first place. Welcome to the Church of Spurlock!

I think I’ve shown that truth-telling is not a priority for Spurlock. But it’s a priority for me. And if telling the truth is a priority for me, then the following truths must be told.

First, every individual is responsible for the health of his or her own body. No multinational food chain is responsible, no politically-motivated asshole filmmaker is responsible, no collective of society is responsible, no blogger is responsible: you are responsible for your health and diet yourself, and let no-one take that away.

Second, education and moderation are good ways to determine what to eat. A cheeseburger a couple of times a week will not kill you, and if you suspect otherwise then see a doctor and get his opinion.

Third, McDonald’s is not the embodiment of evil. It’s a popular family restaurant that gives jobs to half a million working-class people at once, and provides an affordable treat to those who can’t spare the cost of fine dining. It’s not the enemy. Get over it! If you don’t like anything at McDonald’s, eat somewhere else (though you’ll find many more socialist restaurants aren’t much healthier).

Fourth, if there is an obesity epidemic, then it is the result of millions of individuals exercising their natural rights to eat whatever the hell they want to eat. They are making these choices with ever-increasing awareness of their consequences, and they are not accountable to you, or to society, in this regard. The obesity problem has only recently emerged, and is a fact which indicates that we’re currently solving a few of our other issues like poverty and destitution (neither of which are better than obesity). Give us a few seconds to find some balance?

John Wright

Disclaimer:   I’m 27 years old, incorporate fast food of various sorts into my diet regularly (more than once per week) and weigh in at about 132 pounds.  I haven’t had any serious health issues and haven’t vomited since March, 2006, the last time I had a stomach bug caused by a viral infection.