—About this Film
I have a wonderful daughter who’ll be getting married April 9, 2005. She has a passion for movies; she majored in Mass Communications with a concentration in Film, and is currently the News Editor for The Newton Kansan. I have done a good job of raising her and one of the reasons I believe this is she is passionate about children, and helping those in need. She is a big sister, through the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program and it is through this association that I became aware of one of this years Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary, titled Super Size Me.
It was while on an outing with her and her little sister, that I was dressed as Santa Claus. We were taking the little sister, Maria out to check on some Christmas Presents. Maria and Santa, on a date, imagine what that is like for a 6-year-old child? While on the date, we talked about going out to get something to eat, Santa suggests McDonalds and Marathana, Santa’s daughter when Santa is not dressed like Santa, gives Santa that “look” that comes from a point of disgust and anger.
“We don’t eat at McDonalds!” Marathana tells Santa, “Right Maria?” She asks.
“Nope, Marathana says it’s not good for me.” Maria replies, “She takes me to Subway or someplace where we have to sit down and order food.”
Later that evening after taking Maria home I ask Marathana, “What was all of that about regarding McDonalds?” She then proceeds to tell me about the movie she has recently seen called Super Size Me. She is always talking to me about my health and the need to loose weight and watch my blood sugar, I’m diabetic after all and another reason I know my daughter is a good child is that she loves me enough to check on my health on a regular basis. My daughter tells me how I need to see this movie and that after I do I won’t see fast foods the same again. At first I don’t believe her and after a few months of teasing her, I finally decide to purchase the DVD when it becomes available for sale. I just finished watching the DVD and to say the least, not since the movie Reversal has a movie done so much to change my life.
Ben Becker one of my Hollywood Jesus co writers has a great review of the movie that was published shortly after the release of the movie so I have no intent of rehashing what he says. I will point out a few things regarding the movie that impacted me though in a personal way.
Super Size Me in brief is a documentary of the journey taken by filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. He goes on a 30 day experiment of eating only food from McDonalds. If it don’t come over the counter of McDonalds he won’t eat it. He goes through the experiment with the assistance and supervision of three doctors and along the way discovers some interesting tid-bits about the fast food industry.
The reality of it is, that one would be hard pressed to watch this movie, and the special features offered on the DVD and not be impressed with the research and the harm that consumers are currently facing regarding the availability of fast food’s through fast food establishments. On the surface, this film is an apparent attack on the approaches used by McDonald’s but in reality it is much more about the industry and the consumption habits of food consumers. The epidemic of obesity is attacked head on and with a vengeance.
We the viewer, are confronted with a variety of enlightening concepts, the marketing approach of these fast food businesses. The nutritional, or lack thereof, value of the food produced by these companies, their greed, health issues, and our own reluctance to do the things necessary to provide appropriate care not just for ourselves, but for our children. The lack of concern for the very same children who run the risk according to the filmmakers of having a 1 in 3 chance, for persons under the age of 12, of developing diabetes. There are other interesting concepts that we learn, for example the effectiveness of the marketing ploys used on children. We see for instance in one scene where 6-year-old children are unable to recognize images of popular historical figures, figures such as George Washington. We even see in this scene where not a single 6-year-old child recognizes the image of Jesus Christ, yet, every child recognizes the image of, and becomes excited about the image of Ronald McDonald.
In the special features section of the DVD we are told that Ronald McDonald is in many ways, the same prototypical character as Joe Camel, the character responsible for attracting many children to cigarettes. The exception is that Ronald McDonald, who by the way you never see eating in a McDonalds commercial, draws children to unhealthy eating habits, and with foods that have little or no nutritional value.
As a viewer and consumer, I was moved by the portrayals and commentary in Super Size Me. I did not realize for example, that the meat in a hamburger from McDonalds in reality comes from upwards of a thousand different cows, and from up to 4 different countries. Those cattle are raised in feedlots that require a great deal of antibacterial supplements and antibiotics to prevent the disease that comes about from being raised in one another’s feces. Another fascinating study, on the special features segment, shows the food from McDonalds being compared to other foods in the breakdown degeneration process. After 10 weeks we see the break down of various foods, yet the french fries from McDonalds has no visible breakdown. This is especially troubling, especially when compared to the break down of fries that comes directly from potatoes that begins to break down after 2-3 days. The issue of what is in those fries to prevent the degeneration process becomes quite disturbing when taking into consideration the amount of french fries consumed in my 45+ years of life and the effects of those fries on my digestive system.
Super Size Me is a must view video for all individuals who consume fast foods. The movie has had a dramatic impact on the chains themselves. The fast food chains for example won’t confess this, but I have to believe that the change in menus in many of those restaurants has come about as a direct result of this movie. Shortly after the release of this film, we begin to see things like salads, healthy choices on happy meals and other menu items, yogurt, and as of this week, I have even seen fruit options given at many fast food restaurants. One has to wonder though, is this because those companies are legitimately concerned over the health of its customers or because of the public pressure placed on them? We also have to be careful as the film makers point out as to the reality of the “healthy” alternatives. We learn for example that a parfait fruit yogurt from McDonalds with granola has actually more calories, carbohydrates and fat than does a Big Mac. We also learn that this is the case for some of the salads that are offered if using the dressing that comes with it.
To say the least this movie has had an impact on me. You see, through my own admission I am overweight and need to change my dietary and exercise habits. I have been actively involved in exercise recently, going to the gym from 3-5 times a week. I have taken advantage though of the convenience of fast food restaurants. This without realizing the harm done to my body, especially my liver and the breakdown and destruction that can mirror that of an alcoholic when consuming too much fast food. As a result, I will quit visiting those establishments, I will no longer consume french fries unless I can be assured they come from a real potato with no additives or preservatives. I will choose to cook more at home, knowing what goes into my food and thus being assured of appropriate, healthy foods. I will see to it that my family, wife, and son still at home also follow the same healthy life-style. Why would I do this? Quite simple, I want to live a healthy and productive life and want the same for my wife and children. As one who has a profession of belief in God, I should want to take care of the body that God has given me. Truth be told, I am confident after viewing this movie, that those in the fast food industry are more concerned about getting my hard earned dollar to make a profit the cheapest way possible, than they are about seeing to my own health and welfare.
On a scale of 1 – 10, for everything that a movie should be, an uplifting and educational 10
—About this Film