Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days

Morgan has, of course, been a very naughty boy recently (and apologised for it), so it was nice on Monday night to forget all the fervered hoo-har surrounding that, and watch him doing what he does best - ie, be cool and funny and throw in a bit of social commentary while he's at it. Cold-hearted Sam Wollaston is immune to Morgan's charms; of Super Size Me he says
A guy eats McDonald's and nothing else for 30 days, and becomes less healthy. Well of course he does; you wouldn't really expect anything else. In what way is that a movie, apart from there being some kind of horrible fascination in watching it happen?

and so it's not surprising that of 30 Days he takes the 'a month means nothing' line:
it must be so irritating for real poor people to have these journalists and film-makers parachuting down into their world to play at being poor for a few days, saying, "Oh my God, isn't it awful, how do these people do it? I'm a much better person for the experience, we need to do so much more," before flying off back to their well-off lives. How can you really understand what poverty is like when you know you just have to make it through a few more days and then you can return to your lovely New York apartment?

Well of course Morgan and his fiancee do not now know exactly what it's like, nor do they claim to. The experiment element of both the series and Super Size Me is not meant to be scientific, or bring about any ready-made solutions to the issues raised. It's a ... a ... I'm desperately trying not to use the word gimmick cos that gives the wrong impression, perhaps 'televisual device' is a better, though clumsier phrase. Whatever it is, you've gotta accept that it's a damn fine one, which 'humanizes' (man I'm not doing well today) the barrage of facts and stats we usually get. If, like Sam, you're not willing to go on the journey with Morgan, then you're really not gonna get a lot out of the series but I guess I'm more easily pleased, cos it hit home with me. I'd rather have a charmer who makes an impact than a straight-man who gets nowhere, but then that probably says more about me than the quality of the programme.
I feel I should wrap this up, having failed to articulate anything I came to say... all I know is that today I'm still thinking about, and that's gotta count for something.

9 comments:

JoeinVegas said...

But are you going to have a Bic Mac for lunch?

AnnaWaits said...

Well, I just can't be bothered to cook, you know?

Haha, I haven't had a McDonald's in years... must admit to a couple of Burger Kings but last time I had one I realised just how little I enjoyed it.

Mellie Bean said...

I really enjoyed the couple of episodes of 30 Days that I got to watch and hope that it gets a DVD release. It was very thought-provoking and interesting and might just get people thinking in a different way about various social issues - which is never a bad thing. In fact, if more "reality" televison had this kind of focus, I might not find the genre a big fat waste of space. Then again, you can argue that 99% of anything will be crap, so maybe 30 Days represents part of the 1% of reality tv that actually ISN'T crap??
/ramble

Dean said...

I've not seen it but sounds a little like a poor man's Mark Thomas...

There's a fair bit of none-crap reality TV - stuff like The Apprentice, Survivor and The Amazing Race are all pretty decent, mainly because they put people in interesting and challenging positions and don't rely on an audience phone-in (as soon as the audience get to vote people out of a reality show, it doesn't matter what situation the participants are in, it all just becomes a popularity contest).

Paul Fuzz said...

Wollaston's J'accuse Spurlock article fundementally misunderstands the point of Supersize/30 Days, and quite frankly I'm amazed that the depressingly tired 'Of course he got ill! What do you expect!' argument is still finding currency. Spurlock belongs to a tradition of lefty US Popular Politics - Abbie Hoffman etc - whose sledgehammer tactics have always forgone shades-of-grey for headline grabbing black & white..the point of Supersize was that THERE ARE ALOT OF CLINICALLY OBESE PEOPLE IN THE WESTERN WORLD AND MAYBE McDONALDS & SIMILAR FASTFOOD MULTINATIONALS SHOULD ACCEPT SOME RESPONSIBILITY FOR THAT AND IDEALLY ALTER SOME OF THEIR POLICIES AS A CONSEQUENCE. Was it a stunning revelation that 30 days of a Maccy D's diet would cause health problems - of course not, (at least not to an educated British viewer, but you best believe it might come as a shock to a large number of Dan & Rosannes in middle-America) but then that wasn't really what this film was about. Supersize was a protest piece about the irresponsibility of multinationals, but, like Anna says, you gotta have a hook, a gimmick, get bums on seats, maximise impact, and ain't nothing wrong with that.
I thought the Sam Wollaston article was really, really poor, and the points he made (esp. the middle-class tourist overestimating their empathy with lower-class misery shtick) tedious, wrongheaded and rather immature. I'm not especially a Spurlock fan, but I've seen Supersize & caught bits of 30 Days and I've generally found him & his thing reasonably interesting/ entertaining telly in the Michael Moore mould (always found Mark Thomas' angry red-wedge shtick sorta ittitating). Wollaston misuderstood the entire Spurlock thing, and his opinion is bunk. Sorry if that has all come off a litle OTT, but something about the tone of this article really bugged me.

AnnaWaits said...

No you're quite right, it was incredibly poor, and it annoyed me too.

Ash said...

What a cynic. I like 30 days and the mcds film. Excellent viewing, even if a bit off putting. wont stop me from eating them though lol

Anonymous said...

I didn't think Morgan's apartment in NYC was terribly posh. He grew up in West Virginia, which is one of the poorest states over here. I think he's for realz. ''also,I don't understand any of your other blogs as they're all englishy

---blut

AnnaWaits said...

BLUTO! Hey dude, thanks for reading. And it's probably not that you're American, not all my posts make sense anyway :)