Spurlock Interview in the AJC

Just a quick link to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution interview with Morgan Spurlock, director of Super Size Me. The interview will likely disappear in a few days, but Spurlock’s take on the issue of personal responsibility within the fast food industry is similar to mine (I originally had some trouble articulating this in the comments below):

Q: The government and the food industry say that personal responsibility and physical activity are key to reversing the obesity epidemic. What’s your take?

A: They need to accept some responsibility, especially the corporations. If you’re McDonald’s and you serve 46 million people a day, and you tell me you have no obligation to educate your consumers and help them make the right choices. . . . That’s absolute malarkey. This is a two-way street.

True, we Americans make bad choices every day. We overeat and underexercise. When your big sellers are fries and shakes and you’re going to educate to the point where we’re not going to eat those, why would you do that? Your bottom line is going to get hit.

Q: At the end of the movie, you throw responsibility for what we choose to eat back to consumers. What do you think they’re going to do?

A: For me this film is a snapshot of your life, that we make bad eating choices, health choices, exercise choices every day. I want people to walk out of this film and say, ‘I need to take more responsibility in my life, I need to eat better. I need to exercise more, I need to be a better role model for my kids.’

Parents need to understand if you eat out three or four times a week and don’t exercise, you’re going to raise kids who do the same thing. The biggest place where we need to focus our energies in this country is the schools. We’re educating kids in the classrooms and damaging them in the lunchrooms. We’re giving them a diet filled with fat and sugar and junk and we’re saying it’s OK to eat this, it’s fine.


  1. Ryan Said,

    May 23, 2004 @ 10:03 pm

    In my first-year writing class on the politics of food, I teach Schlosser’s FFN for its great research, but I’m thinking Spurlock’s film (if I ever get to see it, and if it comes out on DVD in time) will make a great complement.

    As I blogged earlier (http://dogma.wordherders.net/archives/001637.html), reading extensively about the seedy underbelly of fast-food didn’t seem to change students’ eating habits (at least not in the artificial classroom setting I crafted); I wonder if the more immediate filmic medium might add to the punch . . .

  2. chuck Said,

    May 23, 2004 @ 10:54 pm

    There’s something really powerful about watching Spurlock gain the weight. He has a split-screen effect where we see him in profile before and after, and it’s startling to see what happens in 30 days.

    I don’t know if it will change students’ opinions, but Spurlock manages to come across as less confrontational and more humorous than Schlosser. That being said, I like FFN a lot.

  3. chuck Said,

    May 23, 2004 @ 11:29 pm

    I’ve been thinking a little further about the audience for SSM after your comment (and reading Spurlock’s blog). There is a degree to which he is “preaching to the choir” in the film, but I think the film would play well in a number of contexts.

    One commenter noted that audience members in Columbus cheered when it was revealed that Columbus is the 6th fattest city, and I think there was a similar response when Atlanta came up #12. Several commenters noted that audience members cheered and applauded at the end of the film, and a few people applauded at the screening I attended. The film provoked a pretty intense emotional response, energizing the crowd like few films I’ve seen in an art house context.

    I think that my observation is that Spurlock’s film serves a very specific function for its art house audience, one that allows for an intersting form of identification with Spurlock. There’s an “anti-corporate” aspect, where McDs increasingly becomes a villain (in ways that might be comparable to aliens, zombies, or whatever in a more commercial film). We, as viewers, get to vicariously kick Mickey D’s butt.

    There’s also a degree of identification with the making of the film. I think it’s the kind of film that could inspire others to produce independent films. This is harder for me to articulate, but I think it’s the kind of film that makes filmmaking more accessible for people who might othrwise be intimidated by it.

    And of course, I can’t shut up about it….

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