Mon, 19 Jul 2004
I’m not sure about this Super-Size Me movie. I mean, I guess it’s funny, in a Jackass kinda way, to see a guy eat nothing but McDonald’s and pack on fifty pounds in a month. But the suggestion that the stunt somehow has larger sociopolitical implications strikes me as naïve. Is there anyone out there who really thinks eating Big Macs three times a day is going to have positive consequences for one’s health? Is the documentary suggesting that McDonald’s should be blamed because they don’t emphasise in their promotional materials that eating a steady diet of hamburgers and soft drinks might be, like, fattening? Does everything have to come with a safety label now?
On that note, I spotted this sign while I was walking by the river the other day: “Warning – runoff from storm sewers is not recommended for consumption.” Thanks for the advice, City of Saskatoon! Excuse me while I go play with dirty hypodermic needles.
Wed, 21 Jul 2004
Fortunately the director, although he spends a lot of time in front of the camera, doesn’t go in for bombast and grandstanding, like…well, certain other high-profile documentary film directors I will decline to name. For instance, although he tries unsuccessfully to get an interview with a representative from McDonald’s, he never bursts into the head office with a bullhorn, pushing a crippled kid in a wheelchair, harassing some underpaid receptionist, and acting like the people’s hero when he gets thrown out.
I still disagree with the film’s premise, which is that fast-food companies are somehow to blame for the poor health of lazy North American fatsos. McDonald’s provides cheap, greasy food in preposterous portions because consumers demand it. This isn’t because McDonald’s is evil and wants to keep our cholesterol levels high. They’re only responding to consumer demand. McDonald’s would be just as happy selling fresh garden salad in a light vinaigrette dressing, if us lazy fatsos wanted it.
An analogy. For years, left-wingers have been saying that the greedy executives who run Hollywood were suppressing progressive voices in film, force-feeding the public amoral fantasies of militarism, greed, and sexual cruelty. But just watch. Now that the public has demonstrated its taste for hysterical left-wing documentaries, all sorts of hysterical left-wing documentaries will soon be appearing on the menu. As long as people keep consuming them, Hollywood will keep churning them out. And I think that’s just fine – as long as I can go on enjoying my amoral fantasies.
I wish Super-Size Me had put a bit more emphasis on personal responsibility and a bit less emphasis on cartoons of Ronald McDonald as a sinister heroin dealer. But it was funny seeing that dude eat french fries till he barfed. I still kinda want to see Jackass…