Supersize Me Documentary Essay

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The film “Super Size Me” is a 2004 part documentary film, part health experiment directed by and featuring American Indie filmmaker, Morgan Spurlock. In the film, he records the effects of a 30-day period of time (Feb. 1 – March 2, 2003) in which he ate only McDonald’s food. In the process of documenting the results of the “McDonald’s diet” or “McDiet” upon the director’s physical and psychological health, Spurlock is both surprised and appalled as he discovers not only the detrimental effects of the fast food giant’s products upon himself but also the vast influence that the fast food industry has over the lives of it’s customers---including how it promotes poor nutrition for the sake of profit. Spurlock initiates this documentary as a response to the “epidemic of obesity” as declared by the US Surgeon General as well a careful study on his opinion that fast food franchises, much like tobacco companies, fail to properly label and categorize their products as they are both physiologically addictive and physically harmful---in much the same way as cigarettes are.

During the start of the movie, Spurlock subjects himself for evaluation by a team of professionals, including a personal trainer, cardiologist, gastroenterologist, nutritionist, and a general practitioner. This is done to establish his physical condition and to provide them with a baseline “before” measurement. The teams give their inputs and unanimously agree that Spurlock is in above average shape and in generally good health for a man measuring 6’2 weighing 185 lbs. They also predict that the “diet” would have some detrimental effects, such as weight gain at worst, but nothing too dangerous, stating that the human body would cope well as it is “extremely adaptable.”

The experiment would be carried out with the following guidelines:

1. All three main meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and all food to be eaten must come from McDonald’s only.

2. Every menu item at McDonald’s must be eaten at least once over the course of 30 days.

3. He must SUPER SIZE MEALS only when offered by McDonald’s staff and if offered the option he must always take it.

4. He will must not engage in any exercise beyond that which the typical US citizen engages in, pegged at approximately 5,000 standardized distance steps per day.

The experiment officially began on February 1, and on the second day of the experiment Spurlock was offered the first of a total of nine super sized meals. He is given a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Super Size French Fries and a 42-ounce soft drink. Unaccustomed to eating that much food in one go, he undergoes stomach pains then proceeds to throw up in the parking lot. In five days Spurlock manages to gain a total of 9.5 lbs. and begins to experience sluggishness, headaches and depression. Eating a McDonald’s meal, the director claims, could relieve these symptoms and at this point one of his doctors described him as addicted as he was showing physiological signs very similar to substance dependence.

Upon his second weigh-in Spurlock had gained another 8 lbs. and by his last weigh-in he was a total of 210 lbs. from his previous weights of 185 lbs.---an astonishing 25 lbs.---in a mere 30 days.

His girlfriend, vegan gourmet chef Alexandra Jamieson, reports that he had been extremely lethargic during the later parts of the experiment, noting a particularly pronounced decrease in his sex drive, and he even began to experience heart palpitations on day 21 of the "McDiet." Spurlock successfully completes the 30 experiment, faithfully adhering to the conditions set. He then promptly goes though a battery of medical exams to fully evaluate his health. The medical team was extremely shocked at how quickly and drastically Spurlock’s overall health worsened. Most especially since they initially made predictions that the 30-day McDonald’s diet wouldn’t have any major, negative impact upon his health.

He then begins a detox-recovery program and reports state that it took a total of 14 months to gradually lose the 25 lbs. that he had gained in one month. The film ends with a question directed to the viewers: “Who do you want to see go first, you or them?” simultaneously showing an editorial cartoon featuring a headstone of Ronald McDonald. This mirrors the first time this cartoon was used when it was featured first in an article in The Economist magazine in an issue tackling the morality of turning children into a primary market demographic. A brief coda is added to the film detailing how McDonald’s has discontinued the super sizing of their meals six weeks after the film’s release as well as in the inclusion of healthier menu offerings and a market campaign featuring a more active, sporty Ronald McDonald. McDonald’s has refuted claims that these actions were carried out as a response to the film.

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Super size me Essay

1261 Words6 Pages

McDonald’s is killing Americans, at least that is what Morgan Spurlock believes. In his documentary Super Size Me he embarks on a quest to not only describe and use himself as an example of the growing obesity trend, but to offer the viewers with base-line nutritional knowledge that will allow them to draw their own informed conclusions. Spurlock's primary intention is to prove through self-experimentation that eating solely McDonald's food is dangerous. His secondary intention is to denounce the rising obesity rate in American by using statistics, his own research, and the opinions of experts. His broader message is for a general audience while he tailors select chapters towards more specific demographics such as parents or McDonald's…show more content…

In addition to what you see on the screen Spurlock also uses what you hear to evoke an emotionally response. One scene shows a Ronald McDonald cartoon while the song “Pusherman” by Curtis Mayfield, a song about weed, cocaine, and drug dealers, plays in the background. This is undoubtably trying to draw a comparisons between drug deals and McDonald's this would certainly draw in over weight American's as well as parents. The humor Spurlock displays in the film makes him a very likable person and helps us to relate to him. If this bond between him and his audience was not created and nurtured throughout the film we might find it to be too gross or too serious and become bored with it. Furthermore the bond helps us feel compassion for him therefore, when his doctors and family start to worry about him we care more than we would if we weren't so emotionally invested. Additionally he manipulates the audiences' emotions by depicting McDonald's as a greedy and untrustworthy antagonist. To effectively create this assumption he documents not being able to find nutritional information, calling the headquarters over a dozen times to get an interview to no avail, and showing that they market to children early to get them hooked.

Since Super Size Me is a documentary primary focused on the ideas of its director, Morgan Spurlock, we must be able to perceive him as a credible and trustworthy source. Using himself as

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