The film “Super Size Me” is a persuasive documentary intended to show the hazards that fast food, specifically McDonald’s food, have on the consumers’ health. The documentary idea originated from a previous lawsuit in which two young girls blamed their obesity on eating food from McDonalds (Sprucelock, 2004). The lawyers from McDonald’s thought this claim to be unreasonable and there was no possible way the girls could prove their obesity resulted from eating McDonald’s food (Sprucelock, 2004). The judge ruled that the girls’ lawyers would be able to state their claim if they could prove that McDonald’s intends for their customers to eat their food for every meal for every day and doing so might be dangerous (Sprucelock, 2004). Morgan Sprucelock directed, wrote, and starred in the film by documenting himself eating only McDonald’s food three times a day, for thirty days, and tracked the health effects by seeing licensed professionals. The film showed that Sprucelock had major health downfalls as a result of eating McDonalds’ food.
I would like to examine the persuasion techniques used in the film “Super Size Me” and focus on the publics’ reaction to the film, including both McDonalds and their consumers, as a result of the film’s rhetoric. The film has been accused of causing McDonalds to alter their menu and general marketing ploy. It has also been blamed for scaring the fast food consumer into being more health conscious. I want to examine both assumptions in further detail to find if there is any contradicting evidence that suggests otherwise
I think this project will be interesting because it has been speculated that McDonalds changed their menu to be more health conscious as a result of this film. Shortly after the film debuted at the Sundance film festival McDonalds announced their plans for corrective action. This included phasing out the super-size option and hiring a trainer to promote their new “Go Active” marketing campaign (Pompper & Higgins, 2007).
It has been speculated that consumers are more health conscious as a result of the film. The film has been blamed for growing customers antipathy towards the fast food industry in general (Macnamara, 2009). Some news media reported that the film had the power to change eating behavior (Knowledge and psychosocial, 2007).
The main question I want examine in my research is: “ How did the persuasion techniques used in the film Super Size Me influence the publics’ reaction to the film, including both McDonalds and their consumers?” I think that by examining this film I will discover the ways in which the rhetoric was created and carefully constructed to persuade the audience into thinking specified ideas about McDonalds. This film is very convincing and controversial. I believe I may learn techniques beneficial to know when creating my own rhetoric by examining the way the argument was constructed. The way the audience reacted as a result of the films persuasion techniques will bring to light some interesting findings about communication. I believe I will find evidence that shows the strong impact a movie can have on its audience given it uses a convincing argument.
Knowledge and psychosocial effects of the film Super Size Me on young adults. (2007). Nutrition Research Newsletter. Retrieved February 11, 2009, from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0887/is_8_26/ai_n19493672
Macnamara, K. (2009). Domino effect: another fast-food boost. Press Association. Retrieved February 11, 2009, from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/domino-effect-another-fastfood-boost-1624128.html
Pompper, D., & Higgins, L. (2007). Corporation-bashing in documentary film: A case study of news media coverage organizational response [Electronic version]. Public Relations Review, 33, 429-432.
Spurlock, M. (Director). Super size me [Motion Picture]. USA: Showtime Networks, Inc.