Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Next Performance

I am performing this text for a performing spotlight show at school next week. Here is what I must know by heart and perform 110% so that the audience will be blown away.

Chuck Klosterman


From Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas (2006)

Staying alive is complicated. It’s the single most difficult thing every single person does every single day. There is just so much in this wicked world that can kill us: cancer, avalanches, liver failure, electric chairs, death squads, hammerhead sharks, werewolves, and a boundless cornucopia of other coldblooded entities who solely exist so that we may not. Everything is bad for you. Food is bad for you. Food—something you need in order to stay alive—is killing you right now. Food hates you. But food cannot be held accountable for its diabolical actions, even if Morgan Spurlock thinks otherwise.
Spurlock is the director of the documentary Super Size Me. The film chronicles Spurlock’s performance-testing on his own thirty-two year old body: for 30 days, he ate nothing but food from McDonald’s. If it wasn’t on the menu, he did not consume it.
The results are staggering: he gains 25 pounds, watches his cholesterol spike 62 points, shows signs of liver failure, becomes profoundly depressed, and sporadically vomits.
It may be irrational to question the reality of Super Size Me, since the evidence appears on the screen. We see Spurlock go to the doctor, we see him eat a shitload of Big Macs, and then we see him go back to track his devolution. Around Day 21, the doctor suggests that Spurlock may die if he doesn’t change his diet.
I question that diagnosis, and here’s why: I once did something very similar to this. In 1996, I ate only Chicken McNuggets for an entire week. And you know what happened to me? Nothing. I gained exactly one pound. In fact, my cholesterol and blood pressure went down.
Now did I feel stellar at the end of the week? Not quite. I felt like I was coated in petroleum jelly. I consciously exaggerated that discomfort for the benefit of the article. It wasn’t a big deal. But in this movie, Spurlock starts struggling immediately. By the third day, he starts to act like a junkie. It all seems pretty sketchy.
Super Size Me is somewhat exaggerated; if it wasn’t, it couldn’t exist. You could not sell a movie about eating fast food and feeling fine. Spurlock didn’t just eat. He gorged himself at every possible turn. He was ramming down 5,000 calories a day. He was eating unreasonably on purpose.
Super Size Me is a movie about alleged victimization. The biggest problem with America is not faceless corporate forces. The biggest problem with America is people who blame faceless corporate forces instead of accepting accountability for their own lives. The movie is about blaming a chain restaurant for offering a product that people choose to consume.
Early in the movie, Spurlock poses an important question: where does personal responsibility end and corporate responsibility begin. He never answers that question so I will. Corporate responsibility begins when corporations start breaking the law and personal responsibility never stops. Spurlock questions the ethics of offering consumers 64-ounce beverages and massive portions of fries because people can’t help themselves. “It’s just human nature to eat what you get, even if you don’t need it or want it,” Spurlock tells me. Well whose fucking fault is that? Why is a restaurant supposed to worry about people who get fat by eating food they supposedly don’t want?
Now I don’t feel altogether comfortable defending McDonald’s. It almost feels like I’m saying “Hey man, Darth Vader had every right to build that Death Star. He had all the proper zoning permits.” However the paradigm advocated by Spurlock is wrong. McDonald’s is a publicly traded capitalist venture. Its function is to earn as much as it can by giving people a product they want. Perhaps you hate that notion. Well, go ahead and hate it. But your personal distaste for an ideal has nothing to do with your real-world problems.
Commercials for McDonald’s claim their food is marvelous and you should eat it constantly. And maybe you believe that. Maybe you need documentary filmmakers to protect you from yourself, because life is dangerous. And life is dangerous. Like I said, staying alive is complicated. But I’ll take my chances.

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