TCS Daily

Super Size Thanks

By Douglas Kern - May 14, 2004 12:00 AM

Everyone talks about obsessive, self-destructive behavior like it's a bad thing. Not so! Sometimes, the compulsive twitchings of certified idiots illustrate the advantages of restrained, rational behavior, even as they underscore the oft-neglected point that some people are dumber than a sack of doorknobs. Gluttonous eating is a chronic problem here in chubby extra-extra large America, so for sanity to be restored, a fool of breathtaking stature must climb to the summit of Mount Moron, and plant a bright flag on its peak.

Enter Morgan Spurlock -- director, gourmand, blockhead, hero. In his new documentary, Super Size Me!, Spurlock bravely subjects his body to the ravages of three enormous fast food meals per day for a month, in order to prove some ill-articulated point about corporate responsibility. Call him the Anti-Jared.

Some critics -- including many of the fine writers here at TCS -- have criticized Spurlock for presenting an unbalanced picture of fast food consumption. After all, his dining "rules" compelled him to eat inordinately huge quantities of fast food, even as he deliberately reduced his physical activities. Thus, he grew obese, oddly undersexed, prone to regurgitation, and subject to a wide variety of physical ailments, all while pestering big-business executives. Some critics conclude that Spurlock's goofy rules are the problem -- not the alleged defects of fast food.

Well, that's just about the kind of criticism you'd expect from writers trapped in a stifling paradigm of intelligent and insightful thought. I for one applaud Spurlock, as should all right-thinking Americans. Here's why:

1) He has created grounds for agreement among the adherents of all major theories of evolution. Darwinists, intelligent design theorists, and creationists are famously antagonistic, but on this point they can agree: nut jobs who gorge themselves will soon eject themselves from the Circle of Life -- and that's a good thing.

2) He has inaugurated a new genre of documentary: the "Freak Does Something Disgusting And Gets Sick" movie. Such documentaries can only advance our understanding of human endurance, not to mention abnormal psychology. Perhaps we can look forward to such titles as:

"Make That a Double," wherein our intrepid filmmaker resolves to drink alcohol as his beverage of choice for all three meals. If asked to "make that a double?" he must say yes. And he must eventually try every liquor on the premises. Result? His liver looks like a Brillo pad and his brain looks like Spongebob Squarepants. Moral: fight Big Alcohol by outlawing demon rum. (It's been tried? Shut up, history boy. That was before the Internet, so it doesn't count.)

"Unlimited Trips To The Pasta Bar? Sure!" It's the same as Super Size Me!, but at Golden Corral. Result: Spurlock explodes on day five. Moral: Hurray for Golden Corral!

"I'll Have a Venti!" wherein our intrepid director takes all his drinks at Starbucks, paying the extra twenty cents for a super-grande mega-trough of energy-packed java when asked if he'd like to do so. Result: jittery, paranoid, and voluble, Spurlock becomes a freelance writer. Moral: caffeine is the backbone of a free and literate society.

3) He has given new hope to the lonely hordes of roving plaintiff's attorneys now destitute in the United States. Ah, the plight of the trial attorney: reviled by society and poorly paid, with naught but a few ill-shod servants to polish the aging Lexus. The Armani suits are frayed at the bottom and the trophy wives stand by signs in the road: "Will Work for Botox."

But hope comes in the form of the Frivolous Lawsuit McSettlement! By fanning the flames of mindless resentment against large fast-food corporations, Morgan Spurlock has guaranteed the livelihood of thousands of parasitic lawyers for years to come. Do not doubt that, somewhere in the bowels of one of America's third-tier lawyer farms, some junior-college Hammurabi is penning his contribution to the Aaron Burr Law School Journal of Law and Household Appliances, titled: "Super Size My Suffering: Consumer Rights, Social Justice, and Corporate Malfeasance in Contemporary American Law and Cinema." Remember: You can't win a ridiculous class-action lawsuit unless you can boil down your case into one short sentence composed of single-syllable words that will be easily comprehended by the jury of twelve mouth-breathing nincompoops that your consultants told you to pick. In this case, the sentence is "Fast food makes you fat and sick." Specious legal reasoning plus inchoate public resentment equals big money for the starving hordes of lawyers. And thus another oppressed minority is rescued through court intervention.

4) He has given America an object lesson in why socialized medicine is a bad idea. In the May 8, 2004 Spectator, Toby Church suggests that state intervention into U.K. eating habits (i.e. Big Brother steps on the neck of Big Fat) is a wonderful idea, as the health problems ensuing from fast food abuse are costing the National Health Service billions. Pay attention, America: when your personal medical costs are everyone's costs, your personal business is everyone's business. Health is an enormous topic that reaches into every sphere of human life; it isn't hard to imagine a theory of totalitarianism predicated on perfect health, rather than perfect souls. When the state writes a blank check for our health, our petty indulgences become fodder for the scrutiny of the state. When health is king, fat is subversive.

And let's face it: do you want your tax dollars paying for the maladies of human geek shows like Spurlock? When it comes to maligning socialized medicine, Super Size Me! has those Harry and Louise ads beat all hollow.

So let us thank Morgan Spurlock. His two-hour fratboy stunt is a funhouse mirror held up to our well-fed American selves, making us seem thinner by comparison. He is a fathead so that fat will not go to our heads. He has proven, however inadvertently, that the fault is not in our Value Meals, but in our selves (and in our sometimes-absurd dining "rules"), that we are tubby.

Now get on a diet, Morgan. Super size it.

Doug Kern is a frequent contributor. He recently wrote for TCS about the President of Good and Evil.


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