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Is there a thread on this already?

If not, before you get too excited about this film, this criticism of \"Super-size Me\" is worth noting.

Has anyone here seen it?

Not yet, but I read "Fast Food Nation", which, if what I've read on the film is correct, seems to form much of the content of SSM's film.

The criticism of SSM is verrrry weak. It's partially an article which uses the fact that this guy did publicity stunts in the past. Yeah... and? Only a guy with a penchant for publicity stunts, perhaps feeling remorseful he got folks to eat the stuff they did, would turn such a publicity stunt on himself. Who knows?

Ultimately it seems that the article is as strong as "film content doesn't influence people's life decisions--people are strong enough to make their OWN decisions" on the one hand, and yet forging a multi-million dollar ad campaign promoting the bad food to begin with.

For there to be a valid criticism on SSM, the folks who complain would have to catch the filmmaker eating a LOT MORE than the supersize meals he had consumed. The math that the columnist did proved the filmmaker's point well enough. The real question is... how much stock in McDonald's does the columnist have in his 401(k)?

Nick

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Nick Alexander wrote:

: The criticism of SSM is verrrry weak.

How so? He points out that the very concept of eating nothing but McD's for 30 days (and cutting down on exercise, even on normal walking!) is a stunt, which it is, and he points out that it is fallacious to base any argument in favour of a class-action lawsuit on such a stunt, which it is.

Any argument against McD's to the effect that a diet of NOTHING BUT McD's will harm you is as silly as an argument against violence in film to the effect that steady exposure to NOTHING BUT violent images will harm us. Dudes, of COURSE an unbalanced diet will harm us. What it's really all about is context and how we fit these things into the bigger picture.

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Nick Alexander wrote:

: The criticism of SSM is verrrry weak.

How so?  He points out that the very concept of eating nothing but McD's for 30 days (and cutting down on exercise, even on normal walking!) is a stunt, which it is, and he points out that it is fallacious to base any argument in favour of a class-action lawsuit on such a stunt, which it is.

Until I see the film, I can understand the general context of a class-action lawsuit, if that is indeed what the documentarian is endorsing. For the time being, I don't see the filmmaker endorsing such. What I DO see the filmmaker doing, is using the stunt as the motor for his film, but then exploring anecdotal evidences on the sides, such as junk food in school cafeterias and interviewing folks like Jared in those Subway commercials.

Yes, we are all responsible for our own decisions, diet and otherwise. Decisions are made with education, however. A lot of folks are educated by slim break-dancing happy people "lovin' it", eating Big Macs apparantly all the time. Advertising is very powerful in this country, and when you turn off the television, you still get it on billboards, in radio advertisements, in omnipresent recognizable logos.

As mature adults, we have learned to separate hype from reality, coexisting with such distractions. But impressionable kids and teenagers need this film, even if they may not be able to successfully counter with lawsuits. Lawsuits aren't the point. Education, and hopefully a cultural revolution, is.

Nick

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Nick Alexander wrote:

: The criticism of SSM is verrrry weak.

How so?  He points out that the very concept of eating nothing but McD's for 30 days (and cutting down on exercise, even on normal walking!) is a stunt, which it is, and he points out that it is fallacious to base any argument in favour of a class-action lawsuit on such a stunt, which it is.

Until I see the film, I can understand the general context of a class-action lawsuit, if that is indeed what the documentarian is endorsing. For the time being, I don't see the filmmaker endorsing such. What I DO see the filmmaker doing, is using the stunt as the motor for his film, but then exploring anecdotal evidences on the sides, such as junk food in school cafeterias and interviewing folks like Jared in those Subway commercials.

Yes, we are all responsible for our own decisions, diet and otherwise. Decisions are made with education, however. A lot of folks are educated by slim break-dancing happy people "lovin' it", eating Big Macs apparantly all the time. Advertising is very powerful in this country, and when you turn off the television, you still get it on billboards, in radio advertisements, in omnipresent recognizable logos.

As mature adults, we have learned to separate hype from reality, coexisting with such distractions. But impressionable kids and teenagers need this film, even if they may not be able to successfully counter with lawsuits. Lawsuits aren't the point. Education, and hopefully a cultural revolution, is.

Nick

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I wrote:

: I will be a week from Saturday.

Tickets went on sale day-of (other than festival passholders), the screening was at about 3:00p, my wife and I were there at 9:00a, and all tickets were sold out. This could very well be the next Columbine.

Dale

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Just got home from seeing this one. Hilarious, educational, convicting, call it what you will. It's activist cinema, but not of that annoying Michael Moore variety. (Of course, Moore would never need to make a film called Super Size Me, hyuk hyuk hyuk, and come to think of it, I can remember how Moore had to defend himself -- the old I'm-just-a-blue-collar-guy shtick -- at the Vancouver Film Festival screening of The Big One because that film revealed that Moore likes to pull into a McDonald's drive-thru himself once in a while...)

Sorry, got distracted there. Anyway, Super Size Me won me over right from the start, when the director explains the obesity epidemic and then begins his discussion of that recent class-action lawsuit by saying that outraged Americans did "what we do best -- they sued the bastards!" And the note on which this film ends, while clearly critical of the fact that corporations are looking for money, DOES place the onus on the viewer to do something DIFFERENT with the viewer's money. EVERYONE is complicit in the problem to some degree or other.

I've gotta mull this film over for a few days while I get my review together, but in the meantime, if anyone knows of any websites that address the FACTUAL claims in this film, I'd be much obliged. (I already know what I make of the film's entertainment value and philosophical-cultural perspective.) Interestingly, the version of the film I saw this morning also alludes to things that have happened since (and perhaps because of?) the film's Sundance screening in January, so obviously some changes have been made -- so, in a similar fact-checking vein, I must ask, has anything been edited OUT of the film since Sundance, I wonder? or have they just added the extra coda or two?

Two things I wish this film had explored a little more: (1) To what extent is the fast-food problem the result of a cultural lack of any interest in DISCIPLINE? I ask this as one who used to eat out a lot just because I wasn't motivated enough to learn how to cook, but has since cut back a fair bit for economic reasons -- and has discovered that I seem to be getting marginally more healthy almost by accident, as a side-effect of my eating at home more often. I know I've got more room to improve in this area, but . (2) What are we to make of characters like the "Big Mac Enthusiast" (we see him bite into his 19,000th Big Mac) who eat a lot of fast food but seem fairly trim? I think the question should at least have been explicitly ASKED, even if the answer were to prove elusive.

This film opens here next week, and like The Corporation, which I believe is still showing in local theatres, it really drives home the way that corporations try to "imprint" their brand on the minds of children, through advertising and playgrounds and birthday parties etc. -- I won't spoil the relevant jokes for y'all, but in one amusing scene that addresses this, the director shows children a series of mug shots (George Washington, etc.) to see who they recognize, and of course, Ronald McDonald comes out way, way on top. More and more, I agree with D -- if we have kids, no TV until they're five at least, and even then ...

Interestingly, Ron Mann's Go Further opens here today, too -- I might see that before writing my review of Super Size Me, just to get up-to-speed on these activist flicks ...

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Peter,

Having not seen it, but knowing a lot about the subject matter, I have a hunch that much of the filmmaker's crib notes were taken from the popular non-fiction read "Fast Food Nation." Also, I would gather that a lot of vegetarian websites might have a little research, particularly those from John Robbins, author of Diet For a New America and The Food Revolution.

As a personal aside, last year I made some significant changes to my diet. If I must go fast food, it's limited to Subway (Veggie Delight or Veggie Burger) , Boston Market (Side Item Meal), Quiznos (Veggie, again) or Burger King (Veggie Burgers). My wife and I fit firmly into the "Flexitarian" mindset, that is, we will have meat once a week, and usually the organic, free-range kind. Doing this has done wonders for my health, and my taste buds have never been so well-treated.

Nick

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Ah, but have you tried The Maker's Diet? I just discovered this book at Borders today. I picked it up, expecting to cringe at its contents, but honestly, I found the thing intriguing. I'm still an Atkins fan (although not currently on it), and I've never bought into any "Bible-based" diet. But a quick scan of the book -- that's all I had time for -- left me wanting to know more, and hoping that the book wasn't another example of Christians jumping on cultural trends just to make a buck.

Sorry to derail your thread, Peter. "Super Size Me" is the closing screening of FilmFest DC this weekend, but it opens theatrically next week. I'm not too interested in it -- looks too easy, like too much of a gimmick -- but I'm glad you enjoyed it. Who knows -- maybe I'll see it.

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Nick, one of the things I liked about this film actually is that the guy who made it is NOT a vegetarian or a vegan -- though his girlfriend is! There's a funny scene where he teases her about her not-entirely-serious suggestion that eating ham is like doing heroin.

Christian, yeah, there is definitely a "gimmick" aspect to this film. And one of the question marks that popped up over my head concerned the fact that the film is structured very much like a traditional narrative -- the guy's got a mother and a girlfriend who worry about him, a supporting cast (doctors etc.) who tell him to stop doing what he's doing because it's too risky, etc. Some of my concerns would have been alleviated if the film had still been ABOUT him but not BY him -- that is, if the film had been directed by Person A about a stunt performed by Person B. But the fact that Person A was making a movie about HIMSELF did have me wondering at times how much of what he was doing was just playing to the cameras for dramatic effect. (I think there's just one moment in the entire film that appears to have been shot without his participation either in front of or behind the camera, and that's the scene where his girlfriend comments on the effect his new diet has had on their sex life. And even THAT, who knows, maybe he was in the room somewhere -- it's not clear WHO is interviewing her.)

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Today's 'New York Times' has an interview with Morgan Spurlock, the filmmaker of 'Super Size Me.' Here's the funniest and perhaps most relevant section of that interview:

Q: Did you start to smell bad?

A: Oh, man. I was deliberately not exercising any more than the average American, but I did let myself go to the sauna, to kind of sweat some stuff out of me. And when I came out of the sauna, some guy was like, man, somebody or something smells like cheeseburger in here. I could only assume it was me.

Q: I think that's a safe assumption. So your health tanks after eating 30 days of McDonald's -- does that leave you thinking the lawsuits, which were dismissed, had more merit than the courts did?

A: Actually, I think lawsuits are a terrible way to go with this sort of thing. It shouldn't have to get to that point. I wanted to ask the question, 'Where does corporate responsibility end and personal responsibility start?' The film isn't an attack on McDonald's, it's an attack on the fast food culture that's taken over our lives, including our schools, which I also touch on in the movie. I want people to walk out of this movie and be infuriated. I want them to walk out of this movie and say, 'What are my kids eating at school?'

(As one who found Schlosser's 'Fast Food Nation' quite enlightening, I'm looking forward to this film.)

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My review.

I have to say I'm kind of amazed that this film is making the rounds without a rating of any sort -- even here in British Columbia, the film has been given a regular theatrical release without being rated by the government-appointed film classification board, which I thought was supposed to be impossible. (The Ontario board did give it a PG, though.)

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I'm not surprised Rosenbaum didn't find the film activist enough -- where Super Size Me mocks the efforts of those who file lawsuits against corporations like McDonald's, Rosenbaum says he would rather recommend a film that's all ABOUT a trial that kept McDonald's in court for months and months.

Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote:

: When friends of mine scoff at Bowling for Columbine because of Moore's rampant

: self-infatuation, my standard response is, What's more important in the final

: analysis -- this country's gun problem or Michael Moore's ego?

That's an intriguing remark, if the thing being analyzed is the actual film. I would certainly say that if Moore's ego (and looseness with the facts) gets in the way of addressing the country's gun problem, then scoffing at the film because of Moore's rampant self-infatuation is entirely justified, in the final analysis.

: when Spurlock talks about how despondent his diet makes him, we're probably

: not supposed to consider the possible psychosomatic and commercial aspects of

: his depression: ultimately it's in his movie's interest to feel as lousy as possible.

Interesting -- I make a similar observation in my own review, re: how Spurlock is playing to the camera and editing his footage for maximum dramatic effect, but it never occurred to me to say he was doing it just for "commercial" reasons. Coming from Rosenbaum, I imagine this word is a slur of some sort.

Does Rosenbaum accept any money for the articles or books that he writes, I wonder?

: For a really effective anti-McDonald's polemic . . .

Ah, but that's just what I like about Super Size Me -- it's not merely an anti-McDonald's polemic. It's more about how people give up responsibility for their own diets (and lives in general) in exchange for the easy way offered to them by food corporations (and other corporations) such as McD's.

: McLibel: Two Worlds Collide (1997) . . . has the merit of challenging McDonald's

: on a lot more than its food . . .

So does Super Size Me, I think.

: Spurlock's diet is really more of a career move than a protest, and if it spurs

: action it will only be on a personal, individual level.

Which is not a bad place to start. After all, if a lot of individual consumers begin to demand better things, then the corporations will have to adapt to stay viable.

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Saw it. LOVED it. One of the year's must-see films.

However, I do wish Spurlock had made his film about ten minutes longer in order to offer us more information on what a GOOD diet looks like in comparison to this bad one. Like Michael Moore, he makes it his goal to show us how awful and insensitive and destructive the fast food corporations are, how foolish we are for buying into their sales pitches, and then he shows in great detail what we do to our bodies with fast food. And yet, I walked away going..."You just told us what NOT to do, and said next to nothing about the different effects of the GOOD food available to us."

Furthermore, how could a film only give a passing mention to that destructive and inescapable ingredient: corn syrup? It's in almost everything, and it doesn't need to be.

Still, like Bowling for Columbine, it's an important film in that it forces us to face some things that no one else is talking about on that kind of platform. Everybody should see it.

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Glad you liked it. Yeah, the sequence where he suggests that good cafeteria food leads to a lack of rowdiness in the kids WAS kinda brief, and you have to wonder if he's really, really glossing over something there, the way that Michael Moore erroneously made Canada look like a virtually crime-free place.

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Just saw it myself. Couple of nice anecdotes, but nothing here that you don't get from reading F___ F___ N_____. However, there was a quickie interview with John Robbins, who also wrote two good books, the vegetarian-tome "Diet For A New America" and the slightly-more-broad-minded "The Food Revolution." (He was the son of one of the Baskin-Robbins' founders).

Nick

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I thought it was a very good documentary. This is the kind of film Michael Moore used to make, before his ego got way out of control. I can appreciate the fact that unlike Mr. Moore, Morgan Spurlock doesn't resort to cheap tricks like guerilla-style attacks on McDonalds executives and employees and purposefully distorting the truth. There is a fair bit of humor in the movie (the fact that his girlfriend is a vegan chef is a delicious bit of irony), but he manages to drive his point home about the ill-effects of eating large amounts of fast food.

I think the main point this film makes is that people choose to eat junk because it

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While I enjoyed most of this movie, I must say that I had problems with Spurlock himself. As pointed out in an earlier reply, he seemed to play to the camera a little too much, and many of his "I'm suddenly not feeling well" moments seemed kind of forced. My biggest question about his stunt: once he fullfilled his #2 criteria and had sampled everything the McDonalds menu had to offer in his first 9 days -- including all the variety value meals -- why did he continue to indulge in a gross amount of overeating?

Once Criteria #2 was complete, he no longer had to constantly order the 2 double cheeseburgers value meal -- never had to drink another milkshake -- could have switched to diet soda or water for the rest of the month for his beverage -- never had to sample another McFlurry (with or without a foreign hair)... but he chose to continue eating all of these items, and I wonder how much this added to the number of dangerous spikes his system was being subjected to. It was an aspect of this otherwise extremely informative and entertaining movie that seemed... well, dishonest. It seemed as if he was changing his own rules as he went along, and deliberately pushing his body to the extreme with unnecessary overeating. And in the process, any scientific approach (minimal as it was) was tossed out the window.

Even his doctors mentioned he could greatly reduce his intake of sugar and overall calories, and not break any of the four rules he set up at the beginning. But he only said he would "Consider it"... then he goes out and orders a vanilla shake (lucky for him the machine was down), and continues with the "quarts of soda", as he put it.

Otherwise, I really did appreciate the overall message of the film, and questioned my own eating habits - considering I myself was chowing down on a medium tub of buttery popcorn and large soda (diet).

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Thanks for the link!

However, I'm very confused. Is it just me, or are there two "Super Size Me" movies? The one I saw concluded that it is personal responsibility, not corporation tactics--but that still doesn't make childhood influences via school cafeterias, indoor playgrounds, amiable clowns and summer camp singalongs complete w/hand motions, right--children and teenagers need to be educated to look beyond that, but for some it's beyond their scope.

The only thing there is the alternate experiment of the girl eating a McDonald's diet and losing weight. She's not supersizing--and she's making deliberate, conscious decisions in which if she were to splurge in one area, to detract in another.

It smells like a big-money corporation rebuttal to me. Too bad it contradicts the statements that Spurlock has stated.

Nick

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Yeah, I too felt that the Tech Central Station site caricatured Spurlock's stance on that point. But it makes some valid points too, I think.

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