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Sierra Magazine
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Sierra's January/February 2005 Let's Talk film selection:
Super Size Me
A film by Morgan Spurlock
Review by Thea Lavin

What it's about
On Thanksgiving 2002, Morgan Spurlock was gorging himself in front of the television when he heard a story about two obese teenage girls who sued McDonald's for making them fat. The girls lost their case because they couldn't prove that the corporation's fast food was the culprit. His curiosity piqued, Spurlock picked up where the teenagers left off. Under close medical supervision, the masochistic filmmaker ate three square McMeals a day for one month, nodding whenever he was asked if he wanted to "supersize." We watch as his weight shoots up 24 pounds, his liver function deteriorates, and his moods swing out of control. Filled with startling information about health, factory farms, and the fast-food industry, this satirical documentary will leave you laughing even if it makes you cringe.

Where to get it
Super Size Me is available for purchase or rent at movie stores nationwide.

About the filmmaker
Super Size Me is West Virginia native Morgan Spurlock's first feature-length film. A graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, Spurlock has also written The Phoenix, an award-winning play, and I Bet You Will, a Web production recently purchased by MTV. He is the founder of The Con, a New York-based production company.

Discussion questions
Do you eat at McDonald's? If so, how often? Will you continue after watching this film?

Do you think Spurlock presents the facts fairly?

Many people eat fast food because it is affordable. Is eating well an option only for the well-off?

In the film, Spurlock shows negative images of obese people. Is he aiding discrimination against the overweight?

What are some of the environmental problems created by factory farms? What role do you think organic farming plays in combating the fast-food industry, which purchases food materials from large agribusiness farms?

McDonald's says the film is not so much about its franchise as about Spurlock's irresponsible decision to eat 5,000 calories a day, and "a super-sized distortion of the quality, choice, and variety available at McDonald's." Do you agree?

After the film came out, McDonald's announced that it would stop routinely offering a "supersize" option by the end of 2004. Did the corporation make the right decision? How should we talk to children about the dangers of our fast-food culture?

Links
Read more about Spurlock's fight against McDonald's.

For information on healthy eating and the dangers of obesity, go to www.obesity.org, www.earthsave.org, or www.integrativenutrition.com.

Learn about the environmental problems created by factory farms.


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