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Balls

Essay by   •  October 29, 2010  •  825 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,161 Views

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Just as headlines hit about filmmaker Michael Moore's struggle to get his completed Bush-bashing documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 distributed, another politically charged documentary rolls into theaters with some snowballing buzz behind it. Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me documents the disturbing physical consequences of the filmmaker's month-long adherence to a strict McDonald's-only diet, and uses those consequences to jump-start more general discussions of America's obesity epidemic and the pernicious practices of multinational corporations. While falling short of the devastating, broad-based critique of Eric Schlosser's 2001 book Fast Food Nation, Spurlock's film continues an important trend of questioning the hegemony sacred cows such as McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's exert over our lives.

Spurlock constructed his experiment as follows: He determined to eat McDonald's three meals a day for 30 days. During this period he could only consume items available on the McDonald's menu, he had to try every item on the menu at least once, and he had to accept the "Supersized" portions whenever offered. To track any changes that might occur over the next month, Spurlock enlisted the help of several medical specialists, as well as a dietitian and a personal trainer. At the beginning of the experiment, all the enlisted experts agreed, Spurlock's health was in tiptop shape.

Without giving away too much, by the end of the month things were very different. A few days into the experiment, Spurlock was complaining of fatigue and headaches, and on at least one occasion produced some Supersized portions of vomit. Weight gain became an immediate problem. Furthermore, Spurlock's girlfriend, Alex Jamieson, began to register new sexual complaints. The full extent of the physical problems Spurlock develops as a result of his 30-day McBinge shocks himself, his girlfriend, and even the doctors monitoring his vital signs; suffice it to say, the maladies listed above represent the tiniest tip of the iceberg.

No one could accuse Spurlock of lacking dedication to his art. He quickly reaches a point where everyone involved urges him to abort his project, but he follows through, much to the horror of his friends and loved ones. Particularly alarmed is girlfriend Jamieson, who makes her living as a vegan chef; even as she seems to respect Spurlock's dedication, she visibly cringes every time she watches her boyfriend lift a Big Mac to his lips.

As Spurlock's gut balloons and copes with bouts of a phenomenon he dubs "McGas," he mounts a less personal attack on the images cultivated by our fast-food industry. He travels to Houston, then considered America's fattest city, and talks to experts about how the emergence of fast food might have had an exponential growth impact on America's already-widening waist sizes; he takes a closer look at the oft-ridiculed class-action suits that blamed McDonald's for the plaintiffs' obesity, in which the company's own defense acknowledged that the company considered the health risks of its food common knowledge; he discusses the use of on-site playgrounds as efforts to instill

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