Ultra Light Me
Super Size Me is a 2004 documentary film directed by and starring American independent filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. The film follows a 365-day time period — more commonly known as a year (specifically, the year of 2003) — during which Spurlock eats at least one McDonald's meal a day, and documents the severe effects this lifestyle has on Spurlock psychologically and physically.
The reason for Spurlock's experimentation with fast food was its continuing presence even in developed countries as a health hazard and prevalent addiction, even resulting in various lawsuits. This impels Spurlock to point out how criticisms levelled against tobacco manufacturers often apply to fast food companies as well.
|“||Where does personal responsibility stop and corporate responsibility end? Is fast food really that bad for you? I mean, what would happen if I ate nothing but McDonald's for 365 days straight? Would I suddenly be on the fast track to becoming a dead American? Would it be unreasonably dangerous? Let's find out. I'm ready. Super Size me.||”|
— Mogan Spurlock, recklessly kickstarting the film
The film begins with Spurlock in prime physical condition—32 years old, 190 centimetres tall, 80 kilograms, above average shape, and with a real-life girlfriend, which is more than can be said for many others. He consults three doctors about his proposed experiment, and all three doctors—a proctologist, a coroner, and a doctor of high-energy physics—agree that the experiment will have unwelcome effects on his body, but nothing too severe, the physics PhD even citing the human body as "kind of gross anyway".
Spurlock begins the experiment with Big Mac every day, bought from his local newsagent. He also adjusts his lifestyle accordingly to suit the average citizen of a developed country, walking five to ten thousand paces a day, commuting to work in massive traffic jams, and being ignorant of the industrial and unhealthy nature of his diet and environment. After a month or so, he begins to experience bouts of disinterest and migraines relieved by Big Macs, leading his proctologist to dub him "addicted".
After a month, his girlfriend dumps him, by which point Spurlock has already proven his point to most people. However, Spurlock continues, and by the end of six months, he has ballooned by 200 lbs. and loses all sense of taste and smell. He has also been steadily increasing his daily dose of soda, drinking through fifteen packs of Coke on certain days.
After eight months, Spurlock begins to suffer from heart palpitations. He finally reveals that he has various risk factors that make him extremely vulnerable to a heart attack, and that family and friends are beginning to express some concern in the form of attempting to forcibly have him put in a mental asylum. His doctor of physics strongly advises that he quit eating fast food immediately, since the fat building up in his body may have some side effects.
Completion and aftermath
Spurlock completes the twelve-month experiment, and collapses into his sixth meal of the final day. By now he is a chain eater, eating at least five Big Macs a day. All three doctors—seeing him in the emergency room—are wildly surprised when he is diagnosed with heart disease, and is given six months at maximum to live.
Text at the end of the movie says that Spurlock died in July 2004, and appeared to mildly regret the experiment. A funeral was held in private, and Spurlock's ex-girlfriend did not attend. The movie ends with Spurlock saying through a mechanical larynx, "Who do you want to see go first: me or them?" followed by a photograph of his tombstone.
Despite Spurlock's death, his final will provided for the release of the movie in North America and Europe. The Motion Picture Association of America initially rated it NC-17 for its "gratuitous depiction of obesity and strong deathly situations, including depiction in detail of a gravestone"; however, it bowed to public pressure and lowered the rating to an R. The British Board of Film Classification, not wishing to appear as prudish, gave it a rating of 18 rather than R18.
Marketing initially seemed to imply the film was a snuff film, depicting the actual moment of Spurlock's death; however, this appears to have been a misunderstanding on the part of the general public, as it merely depicts Spurlock discussing trans fat-free fries. Nonetheless, the film was a large hit in no way whatsoever due to a craving for Schadenfreude, grossing $20,642,054 worldwide; however, this meant nothing because, due to extreme inflation, this barely covered the cost of the ink used to print a single poster of the movie.
Critics of the film, including McDonald's, argue that the late Mr. Spurlock intentionally ate a large number of fast food—most certainly not in any way due to the fat addiction spurred on by his experiment—and that the results would have been the same regardless the source of fast food. Many have also stated that Spurlock's various risk factors contributed more to his premature demise than the smoking itself, and have carried out alternative experiments in an attempt to prove this, often incorporating other types of deaths such as by stroke. Subsequently, the prevalence of heart disease in North America and Europe rose 150%, since these experiments were no less reckless or unhealthy than Spurlock's original.
Some have even alleged that Spurlock merely faked his own death as a publicity stunt; no copies of Spurlock's death certificate have as of yet been released, and critics such as Roger Ebert have repeatedly cast suspicion upon the veracity of his demise. However, Spurlock's estate have expressed concern and disapproval regarding this insensitive treatment of Spurlock's sacrifice, and Spurlock himself has frequently come out at awards events and screenings to personally support these assertions.