For those who don’t know, Super Size Me is a chronicle of Morgan Spurlock’s thirty day long McDonald’s diet, where he ate three square meals a day at the fast-food restaurant, the conditions being he would only walk a certain amount every day (as per the amount of walking of an average American), he could only consume products available for purchase at the various locations (McDonald’s doesn’t sell aspirin? Too bad!), he had to eat everything on the menu at least once, and that he must super size his meal if he is asked to do so. The motive of the film wasn’t to expose anything. Spurlock was inspired to do the project after hearing about two girls who tried to sue McDonalds for their poor health (both were morbidly obese) back in 2002, citing that the poor quality of the food made them gain weight; McDonalds countered that there was no way to prove that their food was directly responsible and that even if it were that the nutrition facts of their products are readily available to any and all consumers. So Spurlock, a regular guy who enjoys the occasional Big Mac, decided to see if there was any credence to either side of the argument, and took on the diet. Beforehand he had his physical health proved to be nearly perfect by three different doctors, a nutritionist, and a fitness expert. What happened to Spurlock over the course of the thirty days was shocking.
Time is taken to delve into the deeper subjects of national health standards too, likely to keep the interest of the more intellectual-obsessed in the audience. He takes time to visit public school cafeterias where the nutrition standards are nil because of budget restrictions and as such most lunches are made from frozen or canned whatever; concordantly he points out that only one out of fifty states in the U.S. require children to take phys. ed. Classes. He also meets with various authorities, including the surgeon general, to comment on the health crisis of the country. All of this combined with watching Spurlock’s slow decline, as he loses energy and gains weight, results in something if not alarming at least thought provoking. Three weeks into the diet one of the doctors tells Spurlock that the food is causing toxic liver shock as if he has spent the past twenty days binge drinking, and that if he doesn’t stop it could mean some seriously irreversible damage to his person – even so Spurlock holds true to his objective and completes the diet. After the obvious initial question (Is this guy crazy?!), viewers have to sit there wondering, “Could eating this stuff really kill me? Has it already killed me?”
In a culture where loving something actually means hating something else, Spurlock presents his arguments, if only serendipitously, in the most relatable way: not by showing us how we can make it better, but instead showing us how we’re making it worse. Films like Forks Over Knives show and tell you how good your life will be when you become a vegan or whatever kind of über-health-conscious, showing you glowing portraits of people whose lives have been changed for the better. Morgan Spurlock proved not what can cure you but what can kill you, and he used his own health to show you how. He isn’t self-righteous, he isn’t infallible, he isn’t a genius – he’s just a regular guy talking to regular people about things you should know and need to hear in a way that anybody can understand, both serious and funny, smart and relatable. Morgan Spurlock for President.