Using Supersize Me as a basis, identify the ways in which AmericanSociety is represented, both positively and negatively. In doing so,
analyse the ways in which the producer utilises stylistic devices in order to create meaning for the audience.Supersize Me is a Theatrical documentary which looks at varies issues of Americanculture in terms of it‟s diet. It is presented as the viewpoint of a particular individualnamed Morgan Spurlock and was released in the cinema in 2004. Thedocumentary consists of Spurlock conducting an experiment in which he is onlyallowed to consume food from McDonalds. As the documentary progresses, thediet is shown to affect Morgan in a bad way and this could be seen to portrayAmerican society negatively. The purpose of the film is to show audiences thedamaging affects of fast food, the problem of obesity and how some Americans livetheir lives. The producer utilises stylistic devices in order to create meaning for theaudience, and this can also be examined.Throughout the documentary there are many elements of American society thatcould be considered as negative. Americans are portrayed to be lazy and obeseand this is shown through the statistics and footage of the documentary. It statesthat America has become the fattest nation in the world and that 1 out of 4Americans are clinically obese. The documentary also shows Americans have ahigh use of Taxi‟s to get them to where they need to be. This portrays the view thatnearly all Americans are fat and this could therefore be seen as a negative image.Another negative element of American society portrayed by the documentary is thatthey provide very unhealthy school meals. This may in particular alarm audiencesas parents would want the best for their children so here the documentary targetsthis to shock the viewer and to keep them engaged, hooked and interested to watchmore of the documentary. A final negative element is that the documentary conveysthe American Society to only care about money and business and not the people oftheir community. All these elements show that the documentary portrays Americansociety in a negative way.However, in contrast to this some aspects of the film could be seen to portrayAmerican society in a more positive light. The documentary stated that America hasa wide range and high number of existing health clubs across the country. Anotherpositive element is that in one behavioural school the food was healthy and the staffensured that their pupils gained the best from the food they were providing.Throughout the documentary the American public seemed willing and friendly totalk to others as this was shown through the use of vox pops. Despite previousmentions of taxis, some Americans do walk to work as traveling through New Yorkand various other places by car is time consuming and impractical. MorganSpurlock‟s Girlfriend is a vegan and this is portrayed in the documentary as apositive element. It conveys the message that not all Americans eat fast food andsome live healthy lifestyles by their own choice. Furthermore, health care is seen tobe considered as a positive as throughout the documentary there are manyinterviews with doctors, nurses and health consultants. These are all elementswhich show that American society is portrayed in a positive light.The producer utilises stylistic devices in order to create meaning for the audience.An example of where this is done is in the introduction of the documentary where
computer graphics are used to add effects to the statistics being shown and voicedon the screen. Another example is the use of music and sound effects. Songs suchas “Fat bottomed girls” and “I hope you get fat” are used to suit the content andstyle of the documentary and for humorous purposes. Music is also used forcomical reasons in the hospital operating room while a man is having a gastricband operation. This takes the seriousness away from the scene and keeps theaudience entertained. A voice-over/narrator is also used in the documentary. Thisgives a personal feel for the audience as they are guided through what they areseeing on screen. A hand-held camera is used to make the audience feel as thoughthey are actually there and in on the action. An example of this would be whenMorgan vomits out of the window of his car and the camera zooms in on it. Thisfocuses the audience‟s attention on the events taking place and gives across themeaning that the documentary is trying to convey; that fast food is bad for you. Theonly time a camera on a tripod is used is for the interviews with doctors etc.„Actuality‟ is also present throughout the documentary and this is evident when anobject falls off the shelf without being set up. This unexpected and unintentionalapproach makes it more realistic for the audience. Editing such as straight cuts anddissolves are used in the documentary to show the passing of time and so thedocumentary does not drag.In conclusion the documentary sums up all the effects of fast-food and also warnsof the dangers it can cause. It is factual in its knowledge and also shows theamount of effort it takes to get back to normal after being obese. The documentarycould be seen as subjective and bias however when offered the chance to defendthemselves McDonalds refused. Overall, the documentary criticises AmericanSociety and portrays it negatively.