Government Cheese

Because They Are Poisoning Us

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

'Super Size Me' a 'Flawed Premise'?

So sayeth the death peddlers, AKA the Center for Consumer Freedom, a smoke-filled backroom coalition of burger barkers, sugar pushers and cancer pimps.

“Protecting consumer choice,” declares their masthead, which is what smokers say when their co-workers cough and fan the air. “Promoting personal responsibility…” Responsibility, that is, to choose what we like to buy, watch, ingest, advocate. Amen to that. Sort of.

The slogan of this self-proclaimed group of freedom fighters is not new; it is what the tobacco lobby said when they were dragged before Congress in a wrist-slapping hearing that resulted only in the death of Joe Camel, what Larry Flint sang to the cameras, and what Howard Stern says to the listeners who claim to be offended.

My goal is not to vilify tobacco or shock radio or dirty magazines or even fast food. George Carlin has a joke about the two buttons on the radio: One to change the station, and the other to turn it off completely.

My point is that the junk food and chain restaurant industry has resorted to the same cant as notorious carcinogen producers, narcotics providers and pornographers.

The piece I linked to is this powerless coalition’s attempt to laugh off Morgan Spurlock’s popular, successful, entertaining and scary 2004 documentary "Super Size Me".

You’ve doubtless heard of it, but the movie is one man’s attempt to test McDonald’s defense in a lawsuit (which they won) filed by a couple obese teenage girls. The girls claimed to have been victimized by the hamburger giant’s food and slick marketing; McDonald’s said the chicks could have shown some restraint. Um, no, that’s what they should have said. McDonald’s said the girls probably would have gotten fat anyway, that they were genetically predisposed to corpulence, and that a patron could enjoy their food every day and not gain weight. Spurlock ate only from the McDonald’s menu for his three meals a day, no more, no less.

The movie proves that eating a typical fast-food meal (Spurlock only ate a ‘supersized’ meal when it was offered, about a dozen times) causes an otherwise healthy person to gain body fat at an incredible pace and suffer less visible maladies including depression, a liver condition only theretofore observed in alcoholics, and a diminished sex drive.

OK, so rent the DVD before you read the above-referenced back-pedaling apology by Richard Berman, executive director of the CCF.

It is too easy to pick apart his review line by line as nothing more than a series of babbling excuses from a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar, the McDonaldland Cookie jar. But a couple deserve parsing:

“It's not a documentary at all.” Tell that to the AMPAA and to Sundance who nominated the film and its director in that category. Tell that to Michael Moore. Tell it to CBS.

Berman contends the film “is a lesson in why obesity lawsuits are so frivolous.” He repeats the mantra we’ve heard for decades whenever anyone has tried to stop automakers or power plants or pharmaceutical companies from murdering us. ‘They only care about making money, those John Edwardses and Erin Brockoviches. Don’t trust them.’ "Spurlock,” he says, "…laughs all the way to the bank.”

An interesting character in the film is Don Gorske, a 6-foot tall man who holds the Guinness Record for eating thousands of Big Macs, several every day. Nonetheless, he is a fit 180 pounds with moderate cholesterol. Berman points out that Gorske's apparent normal health is proof that the source of calories consumed is immaterial, that a certain metabolism will be unaffected whether “…the calories come in the form of Big Macs or brussels sprouts.”

*Sigh* I need some fries.

It is notable that Berman spends the first half of his article pointing out Spurlock’s resume includes an MTV show in which contestants were dared to eat odd things for cash prizes, and so we are to assume that all subsequent efforts by the man are merely another attempt to get rich by daring himself to eat stuff.

It’s enough to make one wish Mr. Berman might have a few profit-making skeletons in his professional closet, a concept once aversive only to Marxists.

Stay tuned.


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