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Supersize Me Essay

Supersize Me Essay

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Published by lindseyberrill

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Published by: lindseyberrill on Nov 14, 2012
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12/04/2012

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Lindsey Berrill
Identify the ways in which American Society is represented, both positively and negatively. Indoing so, analyse the ways in which the producer utilises stylistic devices in order to createmeaning for the audience.
‘Supersize Me’ is an investigative documentary which highlights Americas obsession with fast food.Its main purpose is to encourage people to stop eating such foods as McDonalds, Burger King andKFC as it shows how it can not only severely affect your weight; but your health too. In the UK,Supersize Me was originally shown on Film 4 which means it was targeted at a working class/middlebrow audience of about 15-35 years old. This particular audience are fast foods main customers andtherefore need to be educated about the dangers.Morgan Spurlock, the presenter of Supersize Me chose tofocus his experiment on McDonalds as it accounts for 43% of Americas total fast food market. The documentary starts witha group of children singing the fast food song, with thecamera specifically focusing on the overweight child on thefront row. This somewhat comical element immediately grabsthe attention of the viewer as well as introducing one of Americas biggest problems which is featured later. This isthen followed by a slew of statistics which set the scene in a no nonsense way; 100 millionAmericans are overweight or obese, every day one in four Americans eat fast food and the fatteststate is Mississippi.The documentary is highly dominated with negative elements of American society with the targetingof children being one of the biggest problems. So many aspects are aimed to appeal directly to kidsfor example the Happy Meal, McDonalds birthday parties and Ronald McDonald himself; whoconstantly appears in television commercials with his friends Mayor McCheese and theHamburglar.There is even McDonalds Barbie and various other fast food themed toys. The lack of common knowledge these children have is shocking. When Morgan carried out interviews, morechildren could identify a picture of Ronald McDonald than they could Jesus. Vox pops also show thateven adults are oblivious, as they were more familiar with the Big Mac song than the Pledge of Allegiance. American schools are very negatively portrayed; the lack of healthy food and regularexercise is a heavily featured element. The only exercise most children are doing is 45 minutes perweek in gym class. They don’t even have to walk far to reach their nearest McDonalds; they areeverywhere. In Texas, Morgan walked less than half a mile in a day compared to the average NewYorker who could sometimes cover up to 5 miles a day.Bruce Howlett is diabetic; he has high blood pressureand even went blind for a week due to the two gallonsof soda he drinks every day. Bruce underwent gastricbypass surgery to help him lose weight. This was anextreme case but it shows what lengths some peoplehave to go to in order to lose the pounds they gainedfrom fast food. However, Don Gorske who eats morethan two Big Macs a day is by no means fat. The documentary focus’ on him eating his 19,000
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Lindsey Berrillburger but is somewhat contradicting it’s claim that McDonalds leads to obesity.Supersize Me contains very few positive elements because in order to shock the viewers andeducate them of the dangers, they need to see for themselves the negative effect fast food can haveon people. Footage from a school in Appelton shows the difference eating proper meals can make;the students are more focused and better behaved. Although this may seem positive, they are theminority as most schools opt for the quicker and easier processed packaged foods.The stylistic devices used in Supersize Me play a large role in conveying the message to the audiencefor example, the editing. Morgan visits the doctor who tells him about the health issues he isexposing himself to, this then cuts to him ordering a McDonalds. This subliminal messaging showshow most Americans are more concerned about which burger to order, rather than what it’s doingto their body. Several montages are also used as a way of emphasising the scale of the problem.Here, images of ‘beautiful’ girls are consistently overlayingan interview with a teenager who talks about her feelingstowards the ‘skinny, pretty, popular girls’. The final imagewhich is placed over her face is accompanied by the non-diegetic sound of a door slamming; this connotes herfeelings of unacceptance. The montage effect was againused in a similar way to show the vast amount of McDonaldsrestaurants in Manhattan alone. The tiny island of only 22.4square miles packs in 83 McDonalds; the most in any onecity in the world. A cartoon demonstrating the process of making chicken nuggets shows a full chicken being tornappart, chopped up and molded into shapes. This particulargraphical device has been included in order to help the audience visualise the reality of where theirfood comes from and make them think twice about eating it.A hand held camera was prodominatly used thoughout to add a sense of realism to thedocumentary. This makes the viewers feel as if they are on the journey with Morgan and aretherefore more likely to learn from his experience. For the formal interviews however, a moreprofessional, steady shot was created by using a tripod. This is important as it creates a mood shiftso that the audience pay more attention to the health advice the professionals are giving. All of these shots are pieced together by quick jump cuts in order to create a fast pace rhythm, ideal forthe younger audience.The mise-en-scene, specifically the setting of the professional interviews is something which theproducer has carefully considered. David Satcher, aformer surgeon is interviewed surrounded by books andwears a smart suit and glasses. All of these aspectstogether help to connote his intelligence and willtherefore make the viewers trust his opinion more. LisaYoung, a proffessor of nutrition is interviewed in an officeenvironement with a computer in the background. Again,

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