My first memory of eating at a McDonald’s restaurant: I came with my mom and dad and ate a “Happy Meal.” It usually contained Chicken McNuggets, fries and a small Coke—with a toy, of course. All Happy Meals have toys. We’d eat downstairs at the local “McD” and I’d play in the indoor playground. But when I saw Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me I learned that Happy Meals should actually be called Horror Meals. My local “McD” is shut down and has been turned into a Korean fast food joint. I guess that’s a good thing.
Super Size Me is very well known by now, but in case you don’t know it the filmmaker goes on a ‘Mac Attack’ by sticking to a strict diet for 30 days of eating only McDonald’s food, three square meals a day, to prove how truly dangerous fast food is for your health.
How can companies like McDonald’s (Wendy’s, KFC, etc.) get away with selling this stuff? Spurlock not only proves that this food is really bad for you, but that it tastes soooo good. And that’s the big problem. People can’t get enough of it. My beloved chicken McNuggets turned out to be filled with meat—or something like it—from older chickens with abnormally large breasts, who cannot lay eggs anymore (must be all the hormones they’re given). BLECH. McDonald’s should really be called WACKDONALDS.
The best part of the film’s DVD version is the viewing of deleted scenes. In one section called “The Smoking Fry,” Spurlock tries an experiment. He puts different McSandwiches and burgers and an order of fries in separate jars, along with a real restaurant’s hamburger and fries. Then, over a period of ten weeks, all of the food broke down and got moldy except for the McDonald’s fries. They remained exactly the same as though you had just bought them. Scary, huh? It makes you wonder what’s really in those fries!
I think it’s important for all kids to see this film because it’s got a great message: think before you put any fast food in your mouth. You never really know how genetically modified, over-processed, and non-nutritional and FRIED it all can be, making you fat, sick and depressed.
Another film that I enjoyed was the award- winning Canadian documentary, The Corporation, because it, too, looks at how our lives are affected by the companies that make the things we use every day.
What’s the connection between Super Size Me and The Corporation? Well, for one thing McDonald’s is a massive corporate entity, and what I realized from The Corporation is that corporations only care about making money, and not about doing the right, proper thing for their customers or the Earth. The Corporation is very compelling even for a ten year old. The best part was the diagnosis of corporations as legal “psychopaths,” who are incapable of experiencing remorse, can’t take responsibility for their actions and, even though they pay fines, feel above the law.
An important section for me was called Basic Training. Here, you learn how corporations target kids like me in their advertising to get us to nag our parents to buy, buy, buy, to keep us consuming toys like Barbie or food like McDonalds or clothes like the Gap. The Gap is a big problem for me because you learn that the people making the clothes are underpaid or illegally employed. So much money is being made for the shareholders of the corporation, but the people who are actually making the products get next to nothing.
Not only are corporations causing emotional pain, they are polluting our environment with their factories, our water and air with their garbage, making species die in the process. Maybe us, too.
It’s important for a child to write about these films to show that we can understand and learn that there’s a price to pay when powerful organizations manipulate all of us into eating their bad foods or consuming their products.