Super Size Me (2004)


Is it wrong to say I was getting pretty hungry during this thing?

Back in the day, two girls who became morbidly-obese before they even reached high-school, decided to take it upon themselves to sue McDonald’s for making them “fat”. The court (as they usually do), threw the case out and said that they couldn’t prove anything, because they weren’t so certain that any of the fat or extra-weight they gained was from the actual food. That’s where Morgan Spurlock comes in to show them all who’s boss, by eating Mickey D’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner, getting all of the menu items at least once, and always agreeing to have his meal “Super Sized”, but only if the cashier asks.

Way back when this flick was released, it was a pretty big deal for many reasons, but the main which being that it showed us all that fast-food restaurants are practically the devil’s that we always give into. Let’s face it, we have all had our fair-share of food from fast-food joints and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you realize that the crap you’re eating, is in fact bad for you, and shouldn’t be eaten excessively. But back in pre-Super Size Me days, people didn’t really think about this at all and just continued to eat-away at the Big Macs, the nuggets, the McGriddles, the McMuffin’s, and the worst of all, the extra large sodas.

However, this movie came around and really changed all of that and made us realize, “Woah. Chicken McNuggets aren’t just real, actual chickens they get from the farm?” Now, I’m pretty sure not everybody was as stupid as I may make them seem, but the truth is, people didn’t care or think about it as much as they do now. Vegans are all over-the-place (they’re annoying, but all over-the-place nonetheless), Whole Food Markets are popping-up everywhere, and slowly but surely, more and more places that do serve meat, show that they are at least taking care of the animals that they take the meat from, just to ensure that you don’t start tearing-up whenever you take a bite out of a cheeseburger, because you just destroyed Babe’s future. Yet, while at the same time, Mickey D’s is showing-off it’s new and improved menu-item; the one, the only, Fish McBites. Let’s face it, as much as we try our hardest to change the world by the way we live, eat, sleep, drink, and just be, the big corporations are going to stay the same by running business their way, and telling everybody else to hit the high way. It’s the way the world works, but getting a documentary like this really slaps you in the face and makes you realize it’s a sad reality we have to live with. But, it can get better. Which is what exactly happened after this movie, even if Mickey D’s doesn’t like to admit so.

Shameless advertising.
Shameless advertising.

Morgan Spurlock deserves a lot of kudos here, not just for changing certain elements of the fast-food industry as we know it, but by how much effort and dedication he put into making this work. If anything, the guy risked a pretty good job at having heart-disease, let alone, dropping over and having a straight-up heart attack. He knew this all from his doctor’s, who all told him to stop his ass before it gets more than just serious, but yet, still continued to trug along to not just prove his point, but to also give us something to look at. I may be in the minority here, but when Spurlock started paying-attention to the fast-food industry, the way it works, the way it makes it’s money, the way it manipulates, and the way kids are being thrown into this world where a Whopper is exactly what you want for din-din, rather than some soup mom-mom made.

There’s a lot to explore and discover with this journey that Spurlock takes, and the guy deserves all of the credit he seems to still be getting nowadays, just because he never lets-up with his experiment, nor does he ever give up on showing us what’s in-between the finer reading that we may not all be seeing. Some of the scientific-numbers that him and his doctors pull-out of their asses, did sort of come-off like a foreign language to me, but I guess in it’s context, it all meant that his health was failing and getting worse as he continued to pound-away on those wonderful sausage, egg, and pancake breakfasts that never get old. Sarcasm, indeed.

However, being older, wiser, and more knowledgeable of the world around me, who I am as a person, my needs, and my wants, I’ve come to realize that Spurlock feeds us a lot of shit, that may be more than just the food that he’s talking-out against. Be ready, people. This section of the review is about to get really, really rant-y. Here’s the problem that I ran into with this flick: I don’t necessarily agree with Spurlock’s assessment about how the fast-food companies are to be blamed. Granted, fast-food companies are generally considered detestable and in no way, shape, or form the right people you want to give all of your cash to, but they aren’t really the one’s to be blamed here. In fact, we, as human beings are more to be blamed.

For instance, the movie actually brings up the point fairly-early when it says how certain people should make up their own decisions, and shouldn’t feel the need to go about something, like food or whatever, if they have a choice. People have the choice to choose between eating at home, eating at a fancy, schmancy restaurant, or, eating at a fast-food joint. Seriously, the choice is all up to that person and whether or not they want to go with the extra-fatty food, or just chill out and take it easy on carbs. That’s all up to the person, but yet, we are still there pointing the finger at those people because they give us an option? Doesn’t seem right to me and it’s almost a child-ish way of thinking where we can’t make up our own minds and blame ourselves for how fat we got, so instead, stick it straight to the people, who made the product that got us fat.

Reminds me after a couple of brews. Or Big Macs. Take your pick.
Reminds me after a couple of brews. Or Big Macs. Take your pick.

If you don’t want a Big Mac, then don’t get one! But if you do want one, or two, or three, or four, or five, or six, then don’t come bitchin’ to me about how much you ate, how fat you got, and how Mickey D’s are a bunch of a-holes that don’t deserve to make the money that they do. In no way am I sticking up for the people from these corporations, but the way that Spurlock rests with his case and shows us that it’s okay to blame those fast-food places for the reason that we’ve all become big and fat; seems so immature to me. It’s almost like we take the whole responsibility idea, and totally throw it out the window because somebody is allowing us to buy a product that they made. Didn’t seem right to me and in the end, seemed a tad too liberal for yours truly.

Then again, all of this could just be me, my views, my opinions, and the ways that I see life, but do we really want to go about our days just doing stupid shit and blaming it on other people for our misfortunes? Like those kids from Colombine: they were some effed-up individuals that nobody decided to help, listen to, or be there for, but at the end of the day, it’s all because Marilyn Manson made some scary-ass tunes about how evil and wicked he is. Once again, not sticking up for Marilyn Manson at all, but it doesn’t seem fair when a guy is just doing something that he likes to do, and gets blamed for something, you know, because people don’t like him and some kids decided to shoot-up their school. Doesn’t seem right to me, and makes me feel like the society that I live in is filled with a bunch of babies that make their own mistakes, but still can’t take the full and utter responsibility.

Okay. End of rant. I promise.

Consensus: Back when it was first released in 2004, Super Size Me was and, in a way, still is an important documentary about how our world loves to eat, loves to be fat, and loves to blame other people for our problems, but the liberal-approach to that latter aspect ruined most aspects of the film for me, despite Spurlock being as dedicated to eating shit food than I’ll ever be.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Just switch to BK, dude. Whooper Wednesdays are the shit."
“Just switch to BK, dude. Whooper Wednesdays are the shit.”
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17 comments

  1. Excellent post, Dan! I saw this film years ago, and I really appreciated what Spurlock did here. I also remember that McDonald’s case — the story broke when my kids were quite young. I was rendered speechless by a parent’s complaint that they didn’t know feeding their kids a steady diet of fast food was so detrimental to their health. What?!? C’mon people. When you bring children into the world, you just don’t get to be THAT much of an idiot anymore. On the other hand, the counter-argument McDonald’s — home of the goofy clown and the happy meal — used in their defense was ludicrous: “Our product is not marketed toward children.” Wow.

    I liked your rant — you definitely made a solid point about personal responsibility. Corporations should be more responsible too, of course, but as long as something is profitable it isn’t going away. And there is really no excuse for becoming overly dependent on fast food when cooking at home is so much more affordable.

    • Totally! Coming from a guy who eats fast food every once and a blue moon, I realized that mommy’s meatloaf every Sunday was all I needed to be happy and healthy.

  2. I haven’t seen the film, but maybe my liberalism makes me disagree with you. I recently was looking for a job in Miami and I tried to compare the cost of living between there and the place where I live, Portugal. Veggies, Milk, eggs, healthy food in general costed about 200 to 300% more than in Portugal. Do you know how much a meal in McDonalds costs? A few cents less than in Portugal. Economically which one makes sense? The options seem a bit thwarted towards eating unhealthy.
    And yeah, people still are at fault to indulge in fast-food. But who are these people? Are they not the same that are brought up on tons of commercials that are designed to make you starve for their products? Products that are tweaked for maximum pleasure. Of course people can choose not to buy them, but aren’t the odds against them? And to quote the great George Carlin, think about how stupid the average human being is, and realize that half are more stupid than that.
    Certainly in the USA nothing will change because of your maxims of individualism and free enterprise, and companies won’t develop economical unsound morals. But something like the extra tax on transfat that Arnie thought of would put a dent in these corporations…

    • For me, I believe that a person should know exactly what it is that they are getting themselves into when they decide to go crazy with fast food. However, you bring up great points about the prices. That may kill some places, but still keep alive others.

  3. Dan, I’m with you on the rant. Not sure if you’re aware, but NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg is out to get sodas over 16 oz (maybe its 20 oz) banned from restaurants, convenience stores and theatres. The law was supposed to go into effect within the last few months, but it got blocked at the 11th hour. Not sure where it stands now, but the point is that no one is to blame for my eating habits but me, and its definitely not the government’s place to make that kind of choice for me. I’m healthy. I work out every day, I’m in the middle of a long term goal to run a marathon in every state, and if I want to drink 5000 calories of Hi-C Fruit Punch mixed with Coke while I’m hanging out at the movie theatre all day, who is anyone to tell me otherwise?

    If you’re into these foodie docs, I’d recommend Food Inc, and Fast Food Nation (the book, not the movie).

  4. Nice review of a very interesting documentary. Ever since this one I’ve been a fan of Spurlock’s work. You know what you can expect from his documentaries (besides information also quite a lot of entertainment). This didn’t change my eating habits, but then again I don’t go to fast food restaurants that often 🙂

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