Super-size my doubts about Morgan Spurlock's snide documentary about McDonald's
Morgan Spurlock vaulted to prominence and a flourishing career as a television and movie-producer (69 credits to date on IMDB.com), pandering to the snobbery of elitists about McDonald's. His 2004 documentary called Super Size Me, filmed on a budget of $65,000, purported to reveal the malign effects of a month spent eating nothing but McDonald's food.
Nominated for 12 awards, including an Oscar, and winning seven of them, including the directing award at the Sundance Film Festival, the film made over eleven and a half million dollars in domestic box office and many millions more overseas.
If you think of Spurlock as the poor man's version of Michael Moore, you would not be far off the mark. But like other famous movie producers, Spurlock has run afoul of the #MeToo movement and has published a mea culpa of sorts in which he reveals something that casts some doubt on the documentary that created his career. Phelim McAleer writes in the Wall Street Journal:
His claims were dramatic. Before the 30-day experiment, he said, he was in a "good spot" healthwise. By the experiment's end, he reported experiencing fatigue and shakes (trembling, not Shamrock). Most disturbing, and most widely reported, was that he had suffered liver damage. The New York Times review was headlined "You Want Liver Failure With That?" The doctor examining him during the experiment said the fast food was "pickling his liver" and that it looked like an "alcoholic's after a binge."
Fast-forward to December 2017, when Mr. Spurlock issued a #MeToo mea culpa titled "I Am Part of the Problem," detailing a lifetime of sexual misdeeds. As a result, YouTube dropped its plans to screen his "Super Size Me" sequel, and other broadcasters cut ties. But overlooked in all this was a stunning admission that calls into question the veracity of the original "Super Size Me."
After blaming his parents for his bad acts, Mr. Spurlock asked: "Is it because I've consistently been drinking since the age of 13? I haven't been sober for more than a week in 30 years."
Could this be why his liver looked like that of an alcoholic?
Oddly enough, his contemporary confession contradicts an in-sourced claim made on IMDB, possibly drawn from publicity material for the movie:
Morgan Spurlock gave up drinking alcohol six weeks before he attempted the diet in order to remove any presence of alcohol in his body.
Whatever: A week or a six-week abstention from alcohol would not greatly affect liver damage resulting from long-term alcoholism.
To be clear: I am not a frequent eater of the cuisine at McDonald's, though their French fries straight out of the fryer are delicious (though not comparable to the glory days of the past, when beef tallow was used to cook them). But people all over the world do love it, which almost automatically causes people whose egos require them to think of themselves as members of a superior class to scorn it (and those who love it).
Morgan Spurlock vaulted to prominence as a muckraker of sorts. Now he has his own muck. I hope his liver is in better shape now, even if his reputation is not.