New Internationalist

Super Size Me & Go Further

June 2004
368supersize [Related Image]

North American culture has long relied on ever-increasing levels of consumption as a symbol of progress. But could resistance be growing to this ‘more, more, more’ attitude? Two new documentaries argue that the continent’s over-consumption has become a problem of mammoth and dangerous proportions.

Super Size Me chronicles a month in the life of Morgan Spurlock, a fit and healthy 30-something resident of New York City, as he embarks on what many an eight-year-old child would consider a dream come true. He has decided to eat nothing but McDonald’s food for a month and to limit his physical exercise to that of the average American office worker. Watching Super Size Me is painful but compelling. When Spurlock’s McDonald’s month begins he boasts ‘above average’ fitness and 11 per cent body fat. By the time he completes his experiment his body is distinctly lardy and he is dangerously ill. The three of the doctors who have agreed to monitor his health express utter shock that in just a few short weeks a McDonald’s diet has given Spurlock the liver of a chronic alcoholic, not to mention heart palpitations, shortness of breath, a limp libido and extreme mood swings.

Super Size Me also includes interviews with food industry critics such as John Robbins, the man who inherited the Baskin-Robbins ice cream dynasty only to disown it in favour of healthy eating. Although these are insightful, Spurlock’s physical decline is the most powerful thing about this film. With a film like this in circulation, it’s no wonder several fast food firms have recently announced they will scale back on meal portions.

Go Further also touches on fast food culture – arguing that much of it simply shouldn’t be considered food – but it is primarily concerned with the environmental damage wreaked by unfettered consumerism. The film takes us on the road with Hollywood actor Woody Harrelson and his band of friends as they travel south along the west coast of the US by bicycle and by a biofuel-powered bus, making frequent stops to speak to university audiences and to meet pioneering green businesses. Go Further could so easily have ended up a dumbed-down celeb talkshop, but instead it’s a charming and idiosyncratic take on green and healthy living likely to appeal to precisely the demographic group Harrelson wants to reach – affluent 20-somethings. Harrelson himself comes across as a bit odd – his raw food diet certainly raises eyebrows – but there’s no questioning his environmental awareness. ‘We’re in the middle of a mass extinction and we’re the cause of it,’ he says, baldly stating what so many people in the consumptive West refuse to acknowledge.

Erin Gill

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 368 This column was published in the June 2004 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Comments on Super Size Me & Go Further

Leave your comment







 

  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Super Size Me & Go Further Fact File
Product information directed by Morgan Spurlock
Star rating5
Product link www.supersizeme.com
Super Size Me & Go Further Fact File
Product information directed by Ron Mann
Star rating4
Product link www.sphinxproductions.com/pages/film_gofurther.html

Get our free fortnightly eNews

Multimedia

Videos from visionOntv's globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Film

All Film

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 368

New Internationalist Magazine issue 368
Issue 368

More articles from this issue

  • Tales of the unexpected

    June 1, 2004

    For all their faults, co-ops are more widespread and active than you might imagine. If economic democracy has anything to do with it, argues David Ransom, there will even more of them in future.

  • What Is A Co-op?

    June 1, 2004

    The basic principles.

  • The pollen and the bees

    June 1, 2004

    Economic collapse in Argentina forced thousands of workers to occupy their own places of work. Joseph Huff-Hannon reports on the aftermath.

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.

Subscribe