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Super Size Me

The director of this documentary, Morgan Spurlock, set out to find out what would happen to a person who ate nothing but McDonald’s food for 30 days, using himself as the guinea pig.   This experiment was inspired by a food industry spokesperson’s claim in response to a lawsuit filed by two fat, sick girls which alleged that their health problems were caused by McCrap: this spokesperson actually claimed that McDonald’s food was nutritious.   Although initially skeptical of the girls’ lawsuit, Spurlock thought this comment equally ludicrous.   The results of his McBinge are even direr than you’d expect.   As just one example, by the end of the month he has the liver of a man at the far stages of extreme alcoholism.  

A major theme of the film is McDonald’s bombardment of young minds and bodies.   The company indoctrinates children with overwhelming advertising and baits them with toys and playgrounds.   Additionally, a study has shown that all that sugar and fat has an opiate-like effect on the mind.   This effect is overwhelming on developing minds.   The food may in fact be addictive; internal McDonald’s memos actually refer to their customers as “users”.   In one sequence, the filmmaker visits a school for at-risk adolescents where administrators changed the lunch program to healthy food instead of the junk served in most U.S. schools.   The results were dramatic: the students became much better behaved and their academics improved.  

Incidentally, back in the 90s, Helen Steel and Dave Morris stayed at my place during a visit to the States.  Steel and Morris are the two famous British activists (the “McLibel 2”) who McDonald’s sued for libel for passing out flyers that told the truth about the company.   It became the longest-running trial in British history.  

As the McSpotlight website puts it: “The verdict was devastating for McDonald’s. The judge ruled that they ‘exploit children’ with their advertising, produce ‘misleading’ advertising, are ‘culpably responsible’ for cruelty to animals, are ‘antipathetic’ to unionisation and pay their workers low wages. But Helen and Dave failed to prove all the points and so the Judge ruled that they HAD libelled McDonald’s and should pay 60,000 pounds damages. They refused and McDonald’s knew better than to pursue it. In March 1999 the Court of Appeal made further rulings against McDonald’s in relation to heart disease and employment.”

- Jun 11, 2004

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