Morgan Spurlock is a hack.
Incendiary comment, isn’t that? Well, that’s not only my first impression of the documentarian, but it’s also my impersonation of his brand of filmmaking. You see, Spurlock, lick Michael Moore before him, makes his provocative points by as much hyperbole as fact.
His new film Super Size Me is a look at obesity and how poorly Americans maintain healthy diets. Just as the National Rifle Association was the target in Moore’s sites with Bowling for Columbine, McDonald’s faces Spurlock’s scrutiny.
To be sure, Spurlock and Moore are immensely entertaining artists. I love their work. But one must not buy into every claim, no more than a sensible person would of Rush Limbaugh’s radio program.
Of course McDonald’s food is bad for you. So is 5000 calories of health food per day. Spurlock’s premise may not be wrong (people eat badly and never exercise), but the obvious conclusion that people will draw is: McDonald’s is the antichrist. Just like Big Tobacco. We’re all victims and the big corps have to pay!
Moore, too, is one for melodrama. Moore allows so much of his own agenda to force a conclusion on his audience with clever editing. As an example from Bowling: using Heston’s notorious “dead, cold hands” speech at an unrelated rally to insinuate that he was speaking to Denver. Even by his own admission, Fahrenheit 9/11 was made for the express reason of ousting W from office! I have a hard time considering either Moore or Spurlock on equal footing with Errol Morris, for instance. Morris’s Fog of War was a brilliant example of a “fair and balanced” objective documentary.
And just like Moore has encountered staunch opposition in the past, Spurlock too has his own detractors. Case in point: this interview by techcentralstation. Spurlock’s embarrassing inability to defend his premise did more damage to his film than McDonald’s rebuttals (they eliminated the “supersize” menu shortly after his film premiered).
Take ’em or leave ’em, Moore and Spurlock are here to stay. Might as well fire up the popcorn maker and enjoy the entertainment. If you want a good documentary, you might want to check out Morris.