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Supersize Me Morgan Spurlock English Language Essay

“Supersize Me” is a documentary film by Morgan Spurlock which emphasizes the message of the dangers of fast food and their effects on our health. He got the idea of this movie from a case of two girls who were suing McDonald’s for their obesity. The judge ruled that there is no proof that their obesity and poor health is a result of eating from McDonald’s. As an experiment, Spurlock decided to eat only McDonald’s food for a thirty day period and examine the influence of fast food on his health. Throughout the movie, the audience witnesses the drastic changes that the fast food had not only on his physical health, but also on his psychological health too.

Throughout the movie, Spurlock uses several techniques to grab the audience’s attention to the documentary. He represents the facts in a way to grab the viewer’s attention; moreover, he represents number and statistics by using bold, colorful, and large fonts so that the viewer can pick up the information easily. Also, the documentary is not only informative, but also entertaining as he represents his facts in a way where the viewer would be interested to watch. Also, he uses sarcastic tone in some of the facts he represents. For example, Spurlock sarcastically stated “America has the fattest people in the world. Congratulations!” While saying that, he shows picture and short snapshots of obese people sitting or eating, which is also another technique that he uses as he focuses on certain things to reveal a certain message. Morgan could have shown pictures of them walking or exercising but he specifically presented these pictures to imply that they are lazy and are obese due to the unhealthy food they eat from fast food restaurants. He also includes songs that make fun of fast food companies like McDonald’s to make the documentary more entertaining. At the beginning of the movie, he shows a scene of a group of children singing songs about fast food restaurants such as “Pizza Hut”, “Kentucky Fried Chicken” and “McDonald’s” to imply how children are “addicted” to fast food. Moreover, Spurlock picked McDonald’s as the fast food restaurant that he will test his experiment from McDonald’s as it’s the largest chain of fast food restaurants and everyone recognizes it well. A different technique that he used is editing the scenes throughout the movie. Although it is a documentary, it is very clear that Spurlock did not just present everything he filmed on the spot; he edited everything to be shown at a certain time in the movie. Morgan also focuses on including pictures that mock McDonald’s and is shown between every scene as a way to psychologically have an impact on the audience and cause them to hate McDonald’s. In addition, he goes to three expert physicians to verify his subjective observations and to get the audience concerned about them. He also uses these physicians so that the facts can be presented from an authoritative point of view and to also show that he is serious and dedicated to his experiment.

The movie starts off with children singing about how much they love fast food restaurants and then a quote of Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s that says: “Look after the customer and the business will take care of itself.” I think Spurlock put this quote to show that fast food industries are trying to show us their main intention is customer satisfaction when the only thing they care about is making money. Moreover, if they really care about the customers they wouldn’t sell foods that are unhealthy. He provides with facts that reveal that “Everything in America is bigger.” Therefore, cars, houses, food, and even people are bigger. One critical thing that I noticed throughout the movie is that Spurlock talks about McDonald’s as if it’s a threat, especially when he said “it is taking over the world.” I agree with him that McDonald’s is in a way taking over the world because it is almost on every block in America; they can be found in train stations, gas stations, metro, bus stops, schools, and even hospitals at which point Spurlock sarcastically says “at least your close when the coronary kicks in!” At this scene he shows a picture of the main cartoon character of McDonald’s wearing horns as if he’s a devil. Later on in the documentary, Spurlock visits three doctors and a nutritionist where they all tell him that he is in a great shape and his blood tests are perfect for his age. I think he specifically focused on what the doctors said about his health so that later on in the movie he can point out that McDonald’s has ruined his health. One of the techniques that I realized Spurlock is using throughout the movie is asking rhetorical questions to connect with the audience and to make them think about the situation on their own.

After all the doctors tell Spurlock he is in great shape, he decides to start the experiment the next day. The night before the experiment he has “The last Supper” of a healthy dinner that includes vegetables and fruits to reveal to the audience that he eats healthy food on regular basis. In this scene, he also displays a picture of Jesus of eating McDonald’s food as his last supper to create a sense of humor in the documentary. Moreover, whenever he goes to a McDonald’s restaurant he talks to employees in a sarcastic tone by telling them: “get me one hot juicy cheeseburger.” I thought it was funny because the employee is happy and doesn’t get the fact that he’s being sarcastic.

One technique Spurlock used to persuade the audience to believe that fast food is unhealthy is by interviewing a general surgeon who states that the obesity is one of the main causes of death after smoking. He also interviewed a nutritionist which I think was effective because she showed how the sizes of portions of Coke and fries in fast food restaurants have gotten bigger over time. She states that even car companies now make larger holders inside the car so that big sizes cups can fit. The nutritionist even explains the impact and dangers that fast food has on children and how diabetes has recently increased. Spurlock also states that one of the reasons why children love McDonald’s is because it now targets children with hosting birthday parties, giveaways, having a playground in the restaurant and having the employees dress up like cartoon characters.

One small experiment that Spurlock is when he got several children and showed them pictures of well known figures such as Jesus and Bush to identify and pointed out that the children didn’t recognize them. However, the figures they did recognize were the cartoon characters of McDonald’s. I liked this experiment because it shows how McDonald’s manipulates children and eventually they become obsessed with McDonald’s. On the other hand, not only is it the fast food industries fault that children are eating unhealthy, but also the government’s fault as children are fed with all types of unhealthy foods in public schools. Spurlock spoke with the food coordinator in one of the public schools and all she had to say was: “we are selling this type of food so that they will learn how to make the right choice.” While interviewing this woman, Spurlock started to speak to her in a sarcastic tone to point out her stupidity and to reveal that she is clearly lying and that she doesn’t care about the children’s health. Also, another critical point that he mentioned is that most public schools do not enforce physical education as a mandatory course which is extremely important as a person needs to exercise at least an hour a day to stay healthy.

Another small experiment that Spurlock conducted is when he interviewed people on the streets on the dangers of fast food and some of them stated that it does not have any effect on their health. He also asked them if they know what calories are and most of them had no idea. I think Spurlock asked them if about calories to prove how ignorant Americans are about health and nutrition. I think this is a good way to connect with the audience because it makes them realize that they are lacking important knowledge about nutrition and how their health is at risk as a result. He also has a short interview with the son of one of the founders of Baskin Robbins who revealed that as a child he got sick from eating too much ice cream. Also, he stated that his uncle died of diabetes from eating too much ice cream as he consumed too much sugar. In addition, in an interview with Gene Grabowski, director of GMA, actually admitted that “we are part of the problem” of why the level of obesity has been increasing for the past several years in America.

One technique that I grasped Spurlock using is zooming in on specific things for just a couple of seconds. For instance, whenever he goes into a McDonald’s restaurant or passes by it he always zooms in on their advertisements. One advertisement that he zoomed in on says “feeding billions everyday.” I think Spurlock is trying to point out that we are manipulated by McDonald’s in believing in the fact that they feed billions everyday is a good thing, which is not. They are part of the reason why obesity and diseases like diabetes are increasing among the population. He also zooms in on football fields that have advertisements of McDonald’s all around it which makes they viewer recognize how ironic it is for a fast food restaurant that sells unhealthy food to “support” sports games. A different thing that he zoomed on is a group of people walking on the streets wearing McDonald’s shirts which basically implies that it manipulating their customers by providing them free giveaways to go visit them again. One of the most important points that Spurlock makes throughout the documentary is that McDonald’s provides nutrition facts on their food online; however, a high rate of Americans do not have internet at home so he decided to visit about ten McDonald’s restaurants to check if they have nutrition facts posted. He reveals that most of them didn’t and the ones that did are posted in places that people would not recognize such as behind the garbage bin.

Morgan Spurlock exposes to us how he feels after eating a meal from McDonald’s. He uses humor to explain how he feels by saying things during his meal such as getting pains which he refers to as the “McStomachache,” “McTummy,” “McGurgles” or the “McBrick." He also starts to sweat and tells us that “I’m dying” because he is so full and “feels like puking.” Honestly, at this part of the movie I felt like he was exaggerating and he is trying to so hard to make people feel gross. Furthermore, when he threw up, he zoomed in on his puke for a while so that the viewer would get disgusted and feel like he doesn’t want to eat McDonald’s anymore. Also, he found a hair in the sauce and zoomed in on it for a while. In one clip, Spurlock opened the burger and started to make fun of how “oily” and “fatty” it looks which was just another way to disgust the audience. Spurlock tried to reveal how his health started to decrease by showing us that he is depressed for no reason and that he gets tired when he walks up the stairs. In addition, as a result, he started having relationship problems with his girlfriend. Also, his cholesterol went up, he had high blood pressure, and he gained almost 10 pounds only after the first week of his McDonald’s “diet.” One of the doctors told him that his body has started to become addicted to the food he was eating as he always felt like he wanted more. Another doctor was furious when he read his lab reports and urged him to stop this experiment as it is starting to affect his liver. He also zooms in on the lab reports to show how the numbers have drastically changed. I think his main intention to the audience is to make the audience feel like they do not want to be put in the same position as he is at that moment.

Spurlock leaves us at the end of the movie with a strong conclusion. In addition, he gives information by using “you” a lot to make the viewer feel like he is specifically addressing him/her which is a strong way to connect with the audience and grab their attention. He also connects with the audience by giving us solutions and advice on how to eat healthy food by saying: “Why not stay away from supersize options. Who needs forty two ounces of Coke, a half pound of fries, and why not give us a choice besides French fries and French fries. That would be a great start!” He also leaves us with important information about the fast food industry that all they care about is making money and not about our health. “It’s up to you to shift your eating habits” Spurlock adds. “If you keep living your lifestyle you might end up here [in a hospital] ...Or here [in a cemetery].” He concludes by leaving us to think about our life choices and how our bad eating habits can seriously harm our health. Furthermore, he says, “I think the big question is, is who do you want to see go first? You or them?” Spurlock is basically implying that if we do not stop the fast food industry from manipulating us their food will eventually kill us. Finally, he shows us pictures of him after he went back to his good eating habits which imply how happy he is to be back in shape. I think he is trying to send out the message that it’s not too late for the viewer to change their eating style and live a healthy life.

I think Morgan Spurlock’s documentary is very persuasive in revealing the dangers of eating fast food. On the other hand, there are some things in Spurlock’s experiment that I thought were extreme and inaccurate. I believe that if a person eats a certain type of food, not only fast food, but any type of food for 30 days, they will eventually get sick. The nutritionist told him that he should eat a maximum of 2,500 calories a day which Spurlock ate over 5,000 calories a day. This raises the argument of whether he would have gained so much weight or not if he hadn’t exceeded the maximum amount of calories he took in. Also, Spurlock on daily basis exercised and walked to work but stopped doing both when he started his McDonald’s “diet” which shows that his experiment was to some extent inaccurate. Weaver, a person who tried the exact same experiment as Spurlock actually lost weight because he exercised everyday for fifteen minutes. Therefore, the blame should not only be placed on fast food. If Spurlock would have eaten “regular” food that contained 5,000 calories a day, he would have still faced health problems. [1] Another example that proves Spurlock’s theory somewhat inaccurate is Whaley, a woman who lost 10 pounds and her cholesterol dropped 40 points from 237 to 197 during a month of fast food meals. She said after the diet, her liver was healthy and “in general, I felt pretty darn good.” Whaley explains that she ate less than 2,000 calories a day; “I didn’t pig out the way Spurlock did. I might have had a ‘McGriddle’ sandwich with bacon, egg and cheese and some orange juice. For lunch I might have had a salad … dinner, well maybe I might have been in the mood for a Big N' Tasty.” [2] 


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