Morgan Spurlock

The director of Super Size Me.

Visiting town recently to discuss Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock looked fit and fully recovered from his Golden Arches ordeal. He was also thrilled about the recent decision by McDonald's to eliminate supersizing. "It's a real testament to the power of filmmaking. They want to make a pre-emptive strike; they want to avoid a backlash. While I think a lot of it may've been in development . . . I think the film has really expedited their schedule." Yet Spurlock notes, "The film isn't an attack on McDonald's. It's an attack on fast food in general." That introduces the tricky issue of consumer choice, he acknowledges. "People also have to realize that nobody is force-feeding you this food. We need to quit pointing fingers at everyone else." How much responsibility does the fast-food industry share? "Corporations are starting to realize that they do play a part in this epidemic. It's starting to happen." In a sense, Spurlock has a beef with capitalism itself. "When it comes down to farm subsidies . . . [and] agribusiness, these giant corporations have the upper hand and are churning out food at an immense rate that is lacking in nutritional content." Then there's the time bind faced by those of us laboring in that very same system. "People are having to work for less money. Parents . . . are working low-wage jobs, and in maybe some places it may be a single- parent home, where the mom is having to work two or maybe three jobs." So who has time to cook or to go to the gym after work? And what about all those beckoning TV channels and Web sites? Here Spurlock takes a hard line on individual responsibility: "I think that's a complete cop-out to say you don't have time. Leave work at 5:30. Go home and cook. At some point, you have to turn some things off," meaning trade the television for the stove. And while cell phones and cable modems bring the office into the home, he argues, it's also possible to use those technologies to shift extra working hours to after the healthy family meal. Can we expect America's obesity epidemic to be a campaign topic this fall? Spurlock is pessimistic. "As much as me sending in my $5 to Kerry matters, the corporation that gives him a couple hundred grand means a little more. The stand that they're going to take is always going to be one of personal responsibility, of diet and exercise. They'll take a very libertarian stance. A perfect example right now is that the House just passed House Resolution 339, the 'Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act,' which makes it illegal for you sue a food company for making you overweight or obese." So don't go calling your lawyer after you see this film.

 
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