Super Size Me: Relation to Pop and Folk Culture

Today when someone thinks of the word fast food it would be safe it assumes that McDonalds is the first restaurant that would come to one’s mind. McDonalds are located everywhere not only in the United States but in foreign countries as well. Something that would come to one’s mind when thinking about McDonald’s is cheap, quick, and easily accessible food which to generally unhealthy for you. In Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me these characteristics of McDonald’s are put on full display in a deliberate and intense experiment.

The test subject in this experiment is the director himself Morgan Spurlock. Morgan eats nothing but McDonald’s for thirty days straight. His entire diet consists of food off of the McDonald’s menu and by the end of the thirty days he must of consume everything on the menu. The drinks he consumes must also be from McDonald’s which includes water. The goal of this documentary is to target the obesity problem arising in America and how fast food marketing is partially responsible for contributing to it. This relates to how McDonald’s has become part of America’s popular culture. McDonald’s is obviously well liked by consumers and this is clear by how busy each store is.

The stores are frequently located within a few miles of each other and if you were to drive past one during lunch hours, you would find the drive through to have a long line of cars and the parking lot to be filled. McDonald’s is successful in doing this because they work deliberately to win the liking of the people by relating to the current culture. When looking at how McDonalds’s targets consumers by doing this, then it is not surprising that America has the highest obesity rate in the world. The health problems that one can face by consuming McDonalds on a regular basis is displayed in Super Size Me. Within the first week Morgan gains approximately 10 pounds and he begins to feel the effects of an only McDonalds diet. His health and overall sense of well-being continues to deteriorate throughout his entire journey. Today, the fast food problem is not only in America.

McDonald’s are showing up all over the world. When driving down the road in the United States and passing by a McDonalds, an American most likely will not even notice it. In other countries McDonalds are not as easy to come by. When a McDonalds is built in foreign countries it may be seen as a sign of Western influence. This can lead to Globalization and threaten the folk culture in that specific country in relation to their traditional food. This is how the problem started in American. American cities were once filled with ethnic foods of the immigrants who settled in specific neighborhoods. Those traditional values are scarce today due to the overwhelming presence of fast food restaurant’s such as McDonalds. The mass presence of McDonalds within America is clear in Super Size Me. Morgan travels to about 20 cities and has no problem finding McDonalds wherever he goes.

It is interesting to see how McDonalds in certain cities make specific menu items in relation to their geographic location. An example for this is in Houston when Morgan orders the Houston Griddle. This just shows that the advertising is not limited to the general American audience as a whole but targets local audiences as well. If one was to travel to a McDonalds in India it would not be surprising to find menu items to include local ethnic spices such as curry. This just goes to show that today McDonalds has moved past cultural boundaries and does not only focus on the American culture. The negative health effects are clearly displayed in this documentary which show a correlation to the high obesity rates in America. The fact that McDonald’s growth has only increased around the world means that soon other countries might face an obesity issue as well.  

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