UAA students got a super-sized edition of one of the most popular documentary films to hit America Nov. 17.
They got not only the movie “Super Size Me” but also the man who made it.
Presented by the UAA Concert Board, “Super Size Me” played at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium to a packed house of more than 900 people. It featured the full-length movie followed by a talk and question and answer session with the film’s director and star Morgan Spurlock.
“I really liked it,” said UAA mathematics graduate Michael Soper, who saw the movie for the first time. “It does affect the way I look at food now.”
The movie documents how Spurlock, the writer and director, decided to eat nothing but McDonald’s food for 30 straight days. It alternates snippets along Spurlock’s journey with documentary-style insight into the obesity epidemic in America.
The film begins outlining the problem by showing how 100 million Americans are clinically obese and how obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States behind smoking.
“People in other countries don’t have the obesity problem we have here,” Spurlock said after the movie. “In Britain, they’re getting there. In Australia, they’re getting there. In Japan, there’s a lot of overweight kids, because, you know, they’re eating this diet.”
Spurlock begins the film with a clean bill of health. He is in above-average shape with healthy cholesterol, weight and nutrient levels. He embarks on new diet of eating nothing but McDonald’s for three meals a day, consuming 4,000 to 5,000 calories daily. He ate about 30 pounds of sugar over the 30 days.
By the time he was done, Spurlock’s body fat hasdskyrocketed from 11 percent to 18 percent, and his entire body was deteriorating. He gained 10 pounds in the first five days of this diet, and ended up growing 14 more pounds during the rest of the month. His cholesterol reached unhealthy levels, his liver began failing and his doctors begged him to stop regardless of the movie.
Spurlock used disgusting images and facts to emphasize his points. At one point in the movie, he throws up after trying to force down a Double Quarter-Pounder with cheese, a quart of soda and a super-sized carton of fries in one sitting. At another time, he shows video footage from inside the stomach of an obese man who is getting his stomach stapled. He topped it off by reminding the audience after the movie that the beef from a single McDonald’s hamburger includes meat from more than 2,000 cows.
Spurlock never shies away from blaming McDonald’s, the largest fast-food chain in the world, for the obesity problem in America and around the world.
“They feed 92 times the people of Alaska each day,” he said. “That’s a lot.”
During the film, he connects current levels of childhood obesity with the McDonald’s Happy Meal, the fact the fast food chain has more playgrounds in their restaurants than any other chain, and icons like Ronald McDonald, which more young children recognize than President Bush.
It also takes an in-depth look at the nutritional content of McDonald’s food and the company’s failure to properly inform the public of how unhealthy its food is for you. He even criticizes McDonald’s new healthier food options (which debuted days after he released the movie) because they actually aren’t that good for you and less than one percent of customers buy them.
After the movie, Spurlock took the stage to healthy applause and explained how he came up with the idea for the movie, how he has recovered since and the effect his film has had around the United States and the world. He even clarified he has not gone near the golden arches since.
The post-movie speech was a big hit, delivered comedy-style to the packed auditorium.
“It should be an extra on the DVD,” Soper said. “He would make a great stand-up comedian if he wasn’t out to educate America.”
If the students are his audience, then the lesson is simple. Downsize your consumption of fast food or else find a super-sized coffin to bury your overweight self in.
“See, now’s the time of the meal when you start getting the McStomach ache. You start getting the McTummy. You get the McGurgles in there. You get the McBrick, then you get the McStomach ache. Right now, I’ve got some McGas that’s rockin’. My arms…I feel like I’ve got some McSweats going. My arms got the McTwitches going in here from all the sugar that’s going in my body right now. I’m feeling a little McCrazy.”
– ‘Super Size Me’ director and star Morgan Spurlock, while eating his first Double Quarter-Pounder Super Size meal minutes before throwing it up