I first watched Morgan Spurlock‘s Sundance hit Super Size Me some time within my last two years in high school, possibly during my Media Studies class where all we did was watch movies. Or maybe was it in Ethics class. The director has a weird reputation for me now, seeming like some attention-grabbing, condescending liberal to end all condescending liberals. The fact that fellow (and possible rival) liberal Michael Moore is no longer on the spotlight doesn’t help to take any heat off Spurlock. In the film, he goes on this thirty-day experiment of only consuming the foods and drinks is on the McDonalds’ menu, agreeing to be ‘Super Sized’ when asked. But at least, I suppose, he wasn’t drinking or smoking during those thirty days.
He points the camera mostly to himself, renting a car to cut his physical activity and exercise. Being ‘strung out on ham’ and complaining about the diet’s effects which I couldn’t really see. This ‘performance’ part of the movie sticks out in the eight years between the first and second time I’ve seen this, being one of three documentaries that occasionally lifts my willing suspension of disbelief. Super Size Me‘s popularity has also prompted him to do a cable series called “30 Days” where he convinces Americans to place themselves within different shoes for thirty days, like an Islamophobe to Muslim Michigan or himself to prison. I don’t remember anyone else watching this show.
But I can admit that I misread Spurlock as a filmmaker and person. He explains that he was raised in West Virginia and as a tall, athletic man with weird facial hair, he makes sense both as a New Yorker and as a middle American, just like the people he visits and interviews to get the McDonalds experience in different states like California, DC and the fattest state of Texas (I suppose that with the knowledge of the physical state of the latter state, if there was another Civil War the gun-less, pacifist Union might still win).
And it’s not all just him hogging the camera. Yes, the B-roll of ‘fat’ Americans both young and all makes me feel like I have to poke fun of someone as part of experiencing this movie. But as one of many ‘experts’ in this film says, it’s better to convince someone to stop smoking or drinking than to tell someone to go on a diet. A black lung or liver is a state that people get themselves into, as opposed to obesity that might be genetically inherited. But the States has become the world’s fattest country and the proves this by letting these experts speak, whether they be general practitioners (doctors), dietitians, civil litigators, ‘cooks’ in American public schools and surgeons. He also makes statistics about American obesity rates and the dynamics of the food market both fun and scary to look at between watching him get queasy after a Big Mac.
Let’s also look at how the film perceives women. Two thirds of the doctors he consults before and during his experiment are women. There’s also his girlfriend, whose complaints about his sexual worthlessness during those thirty days. She’s also an archetypal vegetarian, attempting to use the experiment as a way of convincing him that meat is hazardous to one’s health even if it’s within or outside the McMenu. She has also planned a detox diet for him after his McDonalds month and I’ll just be bitchy and say that he could have planned his own detox.
Spurlock narrates in the beginning that most of his memories of his mother was her cooking food except for those special occasions when his family would eat out. Which is no longer the case in most families in America and he shows a food court that replaces the dinner table. It’s almost as if there’s a warped mind somewhere thinking that the country’s obesity problem is rooted on mothers who no longer toil for their families’ dinners. That we can return to equilibrium again if we put women back in the kitchen. He thankfully never says that. Instead he goes on for five minutes about an overhaul and regulation of fast food ubiquity, getting rid of many cola vending machines, introducing real food that’s inaccessible to places in the States and cracking down on fast food corporations. Too bad he’s just preaching to the choir.
- Super Sell Me: Spurlock Keen To Expose Brands (news.sky.com)
Via FlixChatter via Encore’s World of TV and Film via SortaThatGuy (can I use your first names if we’ve talked to each other on Twitter or commented on each other’s blog) is a 31 Day Movie Meme. I downloaded movies up to the eighth day, I spreadsheeted it, I mapped out all the movies I saw so that every period got representation in proportionate to how many I’ve seen in said era, or tried to anyway. But I had no time. Thankfully, FourofThem did it in short form and I decided to do the same.
Day 01 – Sequel that should not have been made
—American Psycho II: All American Girl (2002). I saw the ending and it was enough. Poor Mila Kunis.
Day 02 – Movie that you think more people should see
—Ballast (2008). I was alone in the theatre watching this. With a whopping 1000 votes from iMDb. See it, nerds, what are you waiting for?
Day 03 – Favorite Oscar-nominated movie from most recent ballot
— Bright Star (2009). Never changed my opinion on it once. Bu then I’m an English/Art History double major so this was up my alley.
Day 04 – Movie that makes you laugh every time
— In Bruges (2008). Someone should bar me from watching Harry Potter, because if I go and every time Voldemort comes on screen, I’ll scream “Don’t facking talk to me about my cunt facking keeds!”
Day 05 – Movie you loathe
—Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005). Fucking hate Tyler Perry and his sensationalism.
Day 06 – Movie that makes you cry every time
—A Star is Born ’54. Judy’s monologues make me remember that I have a soul.
Day 07 – Least favorite movie by a favorite actor or actress
—Revolutionary Road (2008) for Kate Winslet. Made her pretty only on the outside.
Day 08 – Movie that should be required high school viewing
—Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936). Weird choice, but lets the freaks know that they can fight back. Also Mysterious Skin (2004).
Day 09 – Best scene ever
–The argument between the titular Malcolm X (1992) and his wife. Fences can’t be as good as that.
Day 10 – A movie you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
—Breaking and Entering (2006). Apparently Minghella’s worst film, but so emotionally resonant.
Day 11 – A movie that disappointed you
—Nine (2009), but as a good gay boy I had to haul my ass and my sister’s to see it anyway.
Day 12 – Best soundtrack/background music in a scene
—Vertigo (1958), especially the Prelude and Rooftop scene, judging by my iPod play count.
Day 13 – Favorite animated movie
—Up (2009), or if parts of Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) count. I’m not good at my animation after I turned 13.
Day 14 – Favorite film in black and white
—Waterloo Bridge. It has that one scene that does wonders for black and white cinematography, but what I care about is the content.
Day 15 – Best musical
—Chicago (2002), again, judging by my iPod count. And because it’s really slutty.
Day 16 – Your guilty pleasure movie
—Clueless (1995). When you look at it, it’s really a movie about Rodney King and OJ.
Day 17 – Favorite series of related movies
—The Godfather (1972, 1974, 1990), because I’m boring, and because the last one’s cute.
Day 18 – Favorite title sequence
—Twelve Monkeys (1995), then the tapestry-like The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943).
Day 19 – Best movie cast
—Gosford Park (2001). Rarely do you see Kristin Scott Thomas and other great British actors and actresses together.
Day 20 – Favorite kiss
—Before Night Falls (2000), when a random man takes his glasses off and kisses the audience. Reminds me of many I’ve had.
Day 21 – Favorite romantic couple
–Woody and Diane in Annie Hall (1977). Woody’s disgusting, but their chemistry is ideal.
Day 22 – Favorite final scene/line
–“Adios,” by the Marlene Dietrich character in Touch of Evil. (1958) Fierceness.
Day 23 – Best explosion or action scene
—The Big Heat (1953). No fire, all camera movement. I could feel my walls shake.
Day 24 – Quote you use most often
–“My art has been considered vaginal by critics, which bothers some men. Vagina.” The Big Lebowski (1998). Imagine medium-sized gAsian say that, and then laugh before the next line.
Day 25 – A movie you plan on watching (old or new)
—Get Low (2010), a movie about a swan song, because I’ve seen a lot lately. If I stay in the country, that is.
Day 26 – Freakishly weird movie ending
—Fat Girl (2001). Doesn’t even prepare anyone.
Day 27 – Best villain
—Mieko Harada in Ran (1985), then Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate ’62.
Day 28 – Most over-hyped movie
—No Country for Old Men (2007). This started the iMDb thing of giving ten stars to any male centred movie that just came out.
Day 29 – Movie you have watched more than ten times
–The closest is Gone with the Wind (1939), with at least four.
Day 30 – Saddest death scene
—The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)
Day 31 – Scene that made you stand up and cheer
–The explosion in The Thing (1982), aided by the crowd.