In Super Size Me, Spurlock interviews Jacob Sullum of Reason Magazine. Here's how Sullum describes the interview:
The movie pays virtually no attention to the individualist critique of the war on fat, instead depicting it as a struggle between public-spirited activists and greedy corporations. When Spurlock interviewed me for the movie, I tried to interest him in the paternalism angle. At one point I suggested that it may soon be socially acceptable to publicly hector fat people for their unhealthy habits, just as it is acceptable to hector smokers. The appropriate response in either case, I suggested, is: "Fuck you. Mind your own business." He ended up using that bit of the interview, mainly to establish the background of rising concern about rising weight.Sullum later viewed Super Size Me at a D.C. film festival, and left with this impression:
I suspect that idea would be alien to most of the audience at the D.C. film festival, which seemed to consist almost entirely of people who buy organic food, take a dim view of SUVs, and think recycling is self-evidently virtuous. Aside from a lone skeptic who was booed back to his seat, Spurlock's sharpest critics were people who loved the movie but wished he had paid more attention to the trash generated by fast food packaging or the connection between socioeconomic status and obesity. Watching Spurlock bask in the praise of all these like-minded people, who were congratulating themselves by congratulating him, left me feeling rather like he did after forcing down his first supersize cheeseburger meal.Pretty clear where Sullum comes down on the movie's message, isn't it?
Bizarrely, here's how Spurlock characterizes Sullum's take on the obesity issue, in an interview with the L.A. Weekly:
L.A. Weekly: In the film, Jacob Sullum of Reason magazine asks whether it will eventually be socially acceptable to hector fat people the way smokers are hectored now. What do you think about that?Either Spurlock is completely ignorant of and oblivious to the idea of personal responsibility, or he deliberately mischaracterized Sullum's position. Neither says much about his credibility. Sullum is a consistent, principled civil libertarian. Here's what he writes about one of Spurlock's favorite themes, that parents are overwhelmed by the marketing and advertsing "pounded" into their children:
Spurlock: I think that would be terrible. But I think he's just raising the question of where we draw the line between corporate responsibility and personal responsibility. What can I control, and what is so heavily pounded into me through marketing and advertising and the lack of better food in my neighborhood or in my school? Where is that fine line? There are things that have to change.
Please. If parents don't have the wherewithal to say no when their kids ask for something they saw on TV, their problems go far beyond the risk of chubby offspring.And here's what Sullum says about the way Spurlock characterized him in that L.A. Weekly interview:
I was startled to see how Spurlock . . . explained my comment.This seems to be a common problem with Spurlock. He regularly attributes claims and opinions to sources that, when checked, take the exact opposite position Spurlock attributes to them.
Actually, I was saying that how much people weigh is their own business, and that meddling do-gooders -- the heroes of Super Size Me -- ought to be put in their place.
See here for a similar example from his book.