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Super Size Me

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Oh my goodness. I ran a search for "fast food nation" and discovered not only this thread -- which I was going to post to anyway if no thread for the book existed -- but an earlier thread on this film that I somehow missed when I started this one. I am thus "aheming" myself. Although, now that I think of it, I note that the earlier thread does NOT turn up if you run a search for "super size me" -- a search that I almost certainly would have performed before beginning this thread. The reason the earlier thread does not turn up in response to such a search? Because that exact string of characters never actually turns up in that thread -- instead, all the references to this film insert a gratuitous hyphen into its title.

Anyway, I read Eric Schlosser's book on the way home from Cornerstone a week ago, and figured I'd post a couple thoughts here before they fade entirely from my memory, and before I return the book to the library.

I found I was reading the book -- and appreciating it deeply -- on two levels, one being the level of pure journalism ("oh gosh, look at all this research! look at the craft he puts into his writing! why, I could have done this, if I had the time, the budget, the book deal, the..."), the other being the level of the book's actual content. I picked the book up largely because of this film, and I was struck by the fact that Schlosser and Spurlock are really interested in two very, very different things -- Spurlock is primarily concerned with questions of diet and health, whereas Schlosser focuses heavily on the questions of technology, workplace environments, business practices and food safety; the strongest overlap between the book and film comes in their shared concern over the way marketers target children.

One particularly glaring difference, to my eyes, was the way Schlosser goes after Subway for being one of the worst examples of a chain that exploits franchisees, whereas Spurlock -- being interested mainly in health issues -- kinda leaves you with the impression that Subway, while it IS a brand name out to get your money, DOES offer pretty healthy meals that folks can lose weight on.

I was also intrigued by the way Schlosser includes a thumbnail description of the religious beliefs of many of the people he profiles (a practice that kind of extends to the way he describes Ray Kroc's early recruitment efforts, on page 95: "Like other charismatic leaders of new faiths, Kroc asked people to give up their lives and devote themselves fully to McDonald's").

Anyway, interesting reading. And, perversely enough, it made me hungry.

And hey, what's with that flavour factory? Wow. It's like, "virtual food", or something. If taste and food are such completely separate things, then surely it should be possible to create all SORTS of healthy foods that just happen to taste really good.

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And hey, what's with that flavour factory? Wow. It's like, "virtual food", or something. If taste and food are such completely separate things, then surely it should be possible to create all SORTS of healthy foods that just happen to taste really good.

Glad you liked it, Peter...

As for that flavor factories--talk about coincidence--I "read" the audio book while driving down the NJ Turnpike, home of many of those plants.

Nick

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Reading Fast Food Nation was what made me give up eating fast food on a regular basis. (I used to eat at McDonald's or similar places at least twice a week.) Super Size Me inspired me to try to eat out less in general, actually, fast food or not.

Both are very worthwhile works if they get people to be more personally responsible for their diets.

Edited by Michael Huang

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Yeah. One other thing that occurred to me, while reading the book, was that it is largely concerned with the policies and practises of the American government and industries, whereas I live in Canada and thus I assume it is at least possible that the policies and practises up here could be somewhat different. But I haven't a clue at this point whether there ARE any differences, or what they might be. (Schlosser even talks about how one of the pressures facing American farmers etc. is the importation of goods from Canada -- is it fair to assume the traffic is mostly one-way?)

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Polemicize me: Weighing the claims of competing fast-food filmmakers, a nutritionist asks some real questions

There will soon be a new cinematic portrayal of life in the fast-food lane. First there was Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock's account of a month of eating at McDonald's. The latest film, not yet completed, is by Soso Whaley, an American filmmaker whose previous work has focused on animals. She has set out to debunk Mr. Spurlock's much talked about documentary by going on her own 30-day McDonald's eating plan to lose weight.

Rosie Schwartz, National Post, July 27

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I guess this is one way to fight back...

Indie Video Store Owners Deplore McDonald's Video Test

Angered at McDonald's test in Denver of vending machines where customers can rent videos for $1.00 per night, a group of independent video dealers is vowing to strike back by promoting Morgan Spurlock's documentary, Super Size Me, Video Store magazine reported on its website Wednesday. One independent video dealer posted a message on the Video Software Dealers Assn.'s message board saying, "Indications are the test has been successful in increasing evening food sales" and that the kiosks, a version of McDonald's Tik Tok "convenience store in a machine," will be rolled out nationwide. "I think we should all be sure to order Super Size Me," dealer Mike Salas wrote. "Maybe we can lessen the impact on our revenue by helping to chase the public away from their restaurants."

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I never said it, but I used to eat at McD's specifically two-three times a week. And since the film I have eaten no McD's for two months. Two or three times at Chic-fil-a, but that's christian fast food, so at least my arteries are praising jesus as they get clogged.

For me the film wasn't about the diet. That was just the gimmick to get attention, it was the surrounding facts and emphasis on the culture McDonald's has created that most affected me.

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One day I hope to check the DVD's bonus features. Apparently it includes a conversation between Spurlock and Fast Food Nation Eric Schlosser, and since this film and that book actually don't overlap very much, it'll be interesting to see what they say.

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Two or three times at Chic-fil-a, but that's christian fast food, so at least my arteries are praising jesus as they get clogged.

ohmy.gifbiggrin.giflaugh.gif

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Actually, this film sounds like a celebration of the local burger, which Spurlock is not necessarily against. As is shown in the DVD extra "The Smoking Fry" he doesn't see nearly as much danger or trouble with the burger stand or restaruant burger asd the mass produced, synthetic and ubiquitous McDonald's diet.

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Probably true. But just looking at a picture of a Butter Burger and I could feel my arteries clogging. (But i guess that's why we have angioplasty.)

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Teacher achieves weight loss on McDonald's diet

Les Sayer has lost 17 pounds and lowered his blood pressure while trying to prove to his Grade 12 biology students that the Academy Award-nominated documentary Super Size Me is biased. Unlike filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, whose film did not take home an Oscar on Sunday, Mr. Sayer added an hour of exercise per day to his daily regimen during the experiment. . . . During a class discussion on objectivity, Mr. Sayer's students mentioned Super Size Me as an example of objective filmmaking. In the process of arguing its inherent bias, Mr. Sayer accepted a bet that he could lose weight and lower his blood pressure while eating nothing but McDonald's. "It was just something that I shot my mouth off about," he said. "I didn't expect them to say, 'Well, do it.'"

National Post, March 1

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Didn't Spurlock justify his temporary sedentary lifestyle by saying that most Americans don't exercise (or something like that)? Ergo, he wanted his diet and exercise experiment to mirror the lifestyle of a significant segment of the American population.

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Why bother trying to be as sedentary as everyone when everyone doesn't eat just McDonald's food for a month?

Delayed response, but I think a lot

of Americans DO eat some form of

fast food almost everyday. I believe

he was also responding to McDonald's

claims that one could eat there

everyday and be healthy.

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In truth, if you watch the movie again, the most devastating arguments lobbed at McD's are not the rsults of his diet. It's the interviews, stats, and essays regarding the practices of the organization, the content of the food, etc that are most persuasive. His diet is just an attention-getter. That really works.

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In truth, if you watch the movie again, the most devastating arguments lobbed at McD's are not the rsults of his diet.  It's the interviews, stats, and essays regarding the practices of the organization, the content of the food, etc that are most persuasive.  His diet is just an attention-getter.  That really works.

I wholeheartily agree. The segments about the schools (the one that changed their food service and the one with the progressive physical education program) were facinating. Spurlock's conversation with the author of Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser, on the DVD extras probably made Spurlock's point more persuasively than anything else he did.

I suppose using a gimmick like the diet is a double edge sword. Without the diet, he would have had a small fraction of the publicity and audience, but with the diet his critics focus on the gimmick and ignore the substantial issue that he wanted to bring up.

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Man eats 25,000th Big Mac, 39 years after his 1st

FOND DU LAC, Wis. (AP) — A retired prison guard ate his 25,000th Big Mac on Tuesday, 39 years to the day after eating his first ... nine.

Don Gorske was honored after reaching the meaty milestone during a ceremony at a McDonald's in his hometown of Fond du Lac. Surely McDonald's most loyal customer, Guinness World Records recognized Gorske's feat three years and 2,000 Big Macs ago, and the 59-year-old says he has no desire to stop.

"I plan on eating Big Macs until I die," he said. "I have no intentions of changing. It's still my favorite food. Nothing has changed in 39 years. I look forward to it every day." . . .

Gorske, who appeared in the 2004 documentary "Super Size Me," which examined the fast food industry, looks nothing like one might expect of a fast food junkie. He's trim and walks regularly for exercise, and he attributes his build to being "hyperactive." He said he was recently given a clean bill of health and that his cholesterol is low.

Gorske's obsession with the burger — two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun, for those not familiar with the once-ubiquitous ads — started May 17, 1972, when he bought three Big Macs to celebrate the purchase of a new car. He was hooked, and went back to McDonald's twice more that day, eating nine before they closed.

He's only gone eight days since without a Big Mac, and most days he eats two. Among the reasons he skipped a day was to grant his mother a dying wish. His last Big Mac-less day was Thanksgiving 2000, when he forgot to stock up and the store was closed for the holiday. . . .

Tara Gidus, a registered dietitian in Orlando, Fla., said she wouldn't recommend Gorske's Big Mac diet, and that he's likely stayed relatively healthy because of good genetics and because he doesn't order a lot of extras, such as fries and sodas.

She said the Big Mac provides protein and grains, which the body needs, and that she would be "less concerned about the bad stuff in the Big Mac and more concerned about the good stuff he's missing," such as fruits and vegetables.

Gorske said he normally buys six on Monday and eight on Thursday and freezes or refrigerates them and warms them when he wants to eat them, so he doesn't have to run to the restaurant all the time.

Gorske said he likes other foods, including bratwurst and lobsters, but that he loves Big Macs and his wife Mary, a nurse, never has to worry about making him a meal. . . .

Associated Press, May 17

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A Big Mac Attack, or a False Alarm?
But did McDonald’s really cause Mr. Spurlock’s ill health?
His claims were dramatic. Before the 30-day experiment, he said, he was in a “good spot” healthwise. By the experiment’s end, he reported experiencing fatigue and shakes (trembling, not Shamrock). Most disturbing, and most widely reported, was that he had suffered liver damage. The New York Times review was headlined “You Want Liver Failure With That?” The doctor examining him during the experiment said the fast food was “pickling his liver” and that it looked like an “alcoholic’s after a binge.”
Fast-forward to December 2017, when Mr. Spurlock issued a #MeToo mea culpa titled “I Am Part of the Problem,” detailing a lifetime of sexual misdeeds. As a result, YouTube dropped its plans to screen his “Super Size Me” sequel, and other broadcasters cut ties. But overlooked in all this was a stunning admission that calls into question the veracity of the original “Super Size Me.”
After blaming his parents for his bad acts, Mr. Spurlock asked: “Is it because I’ve consistently been drinking since the age of 13? I haven’t been sober for more than a week in 30 years.”
Could this be why his liver looked like that of an alcoholic? Were those shakes symptoms of alcohol withdrawal? Mr. Spurlock’s 2017 confession contradicts what he said in his 2004 documentary. “Any alcohol use?” the doctor asks at the outset. “Now? None,” he replies. In explaining his experiment, he says: “I can only eat things that are for sale over the counter at McDonald’s—water included.”
Through a publicist, Mr. Spurlock declined to comment for this article. Journalists should have asked for verification of his claims back when “Super Size Me” came out. Instead, he got supportive headlines and endless awards. Mr. Spurlock has recently emerged from rehab—yes, it was a 30-day stint—and is looking to revive his career. Maybe he will clean up his personal behavior, but he also owes viewers a full accounting of the truth behind “Super Size Me.”
Wall Street Journal, May 23

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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