What happens when you make a highly successful, opinionated documentary? The detractors come out of the woodwork and they’re militant and aiming to take you down. Such is the case with Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 9/11 that inspired the rebuttal documentary “Michael Moore Hates America”. Now, it’s Morgan Spurlock’s turn in the hot seat, whose Super Size Me film has inspired this short counterpoint doc.
Annoyed by Spurlock’s blatant irresponsibility in eating McDonald’s three times a day for 30 days straight, not exercising between meals and then belly-aching about gaining 24-pounds, seeing his cholesterol level rocket out of control and generally feeling like s**t, fitness expert and muscle-bound bodybuilder Chazz Weaver has taken up the challenge of the 30 day McDiet himself, claiming at the beginning of the experiment that he won’t only avoid the danger of becoming Grimace as Spurlock did, but he’ll actually lose weight in the process. As the film begins, a yolked out Weaver assumes a WWF stance in front of a McDonald’s restaurant, bellowing the war cry – “Morgan Spurlock, I want you!”
So Weaver begins wolfing down the burgers, but he’s going to do things differently than Spurlock did. He’s going to monitor his caloric intake and using that information to eat more responsibly than Spurlock even though those meals will still consist of items from a McDonald’s menu three times daily. And here’s the big difference – Weaver will also get plenty of exercise throughout the month. And he does. And by the end of the experiment, he has lost several pounds and is as fit as ever. Sure his cholesterol level has risen a bit, but that ain’t no thang. Weaver has succeeded in showing that being nutritionally conscious and having a regular exercise schedule can overcome the junk food that you may consume. He stresses that if people would follow his example and be more responsible for their own health, that the obesity rate in America would no longer be a major problem. It’s a great message and Weaver is an inspiring spokesman, but there’s a major problem with the film here.
Wasn’t Spurlock saying the same thing in his film? Wasn’t he saying that people in this country were too lazy to watch their diets and exercise because fast food culture had them in its death grip? I think he was. So in his experiment, he was taking the role of the average joe who eats mostly garbage and then doesn’t get any exercise. With this experiment and film, he was showing what many Americans are doing to themselves. With Weaver’s experiment and film, he shows what Americans can do to lead healthier lives while kinda eating the same stuff, just being more careful about it. Both of these films have great messages, but work in opposite ways. “Super Size Me” uses shock value, along with plenty of nutritional facts and opinions from varied experts, to scare people into taking better care of themselves. “Down Size Me” uses a sort of instructional exercise video method of teaching people how to take better care of themselves. In the end, both films want the same thing and would normally make a great fat attack double feature, but Weaver insists on childishly attacking Spurlock and his film, standing up for McDonald’s as if that were what “Super Size Me” was all about, to tear down the Golden Arches and that’s just not the case. Someone missed the entire point of “Super Size Me.”
In the end, Weaver has a great point to make and he illustrates it by accomplishing what several others have as well. If you search the Web, you’ll be able to find stories on other people who have taken up the 30-day McDonald’s challenge and, at the end of their experiment, because they were more nutritionally conscious about what they ate during each of those 120 McMeals, wound up losing weight. That’s awesome! But these people are also in the minority, especially the heavily built Weaver. How many ripped bodybuilder types do you know? The majority of people walking into a McDonald’s, or any fast food joint, don’t really have their nutrition in their best interests. Actually, if they did, they probably wouldn’t be eating fast food in the first place. But that’s where Americans are in trouble, by fast food being so readily available wherever we turn, by having it shoved in our faces through advertising and by this country becoming lazier and lazier as we get accustomed to things coming to us faster and easier, fast food unfortunately is an all too regular eating option. Once again, that’s what “Super Size Me” is saying. It’s an emergency siren, one that I wouldn’t think would be attacked by someone so health conscious. The immaturities of “Down Size Me” keep it from being a real helping tool and that’s a shame.