Maintenance Phase

"Super Size Me"

February 15, 2022
Show Notes Transcript

Michael: Welcome to Maintenance Phase, the podcast that has 30 days to fatten you up, or knock you down, or whatever that movie is about [crosstalk].

Aubrey: [laughs] All of a sudden, we're just like the witch in Hansel and Gretel.

Michael: I know. It doesn't hold together as a metaphor. I apologize.

Aubrey: [laughs] 

Michael: I'm Michael Hobbes. 

Aubrey: I'm Aubrey Gordon.

Michael: If you want to support the show, you can do that on Patreon at Last month's bonus Patreon episode was a mailbag episode, where we read a bunch of 'I'm not fat phobic butt,' emails and responded to them and it was fun. This month's bonus episode is going to be a continuation of our Belle Gibson episode. We got a really big response to that. So, we're doing a spiritual sequel where we talk about other illness influencers, including one who was friends with Belle Gibson.

Aubrey: Yeah. We talk a lot about real illnesses and this month we're talking about fake ones.

Michael: I know. Those are the best ones. Those are the ones we can laugh at. 

Aubrey: [laughs] 

Michael: Those are much better that way. And today, we are talking about same sex marriage.

Aubrey: No, it's the other SSM. [laughs] 

Michael: Aubrey keeps texting me about, she's like, "I'm ready for SSM on Sunday."

Aubrey: And Mike just hears the opening bars of 'Going to the Chapel.' 


Aubrey: No, Supersize Me. We're talking about Supersize Me

Michael: Supersize Me. Yes, which I asked you, "Should I watch the movie before we record this?" You specifically said, "You wanted me fresh."

Aubrey: I do want you fresh for this particular conversation. 

Michael: With my aging memories. 

Aubrey: So, talk to me about your aging memories. Did you see this movie when it came out? Just generally, what do you remember about the film and what do you remember about how it was received?

Michael: I think I saw it in the theater. I may have seen it very quickly after it came out on VHS. This was something that I was looking forward to and I was excited about, because I had been obsessed with this issue for so long, and I don't like fast food companies, and I don't like soda companies, and it seemed like an interesting vessel for roasting such companies. 

Aubrey: Yeah.

Michael: The premise of the movie is that he's like this ostensibly healthy dude. Yeah, I think it was 30 days eating nothing but McDonald's. By the end of the 30 days, his kidneys about to fail, his heart is just pumping milkshakes. He's just on death's door by the end of this. I think people were like, "Yeah, these companies suck and look how backwards [crosstalk] they are." 

Aubrey: Yeah. It's a little bit like jackass food systems edition. 

Michael: Yeah. [laughs] 

Aubrey: [crosstalk] fast food.

Michael: So, what's your relationship with the movie? 

Aubrey: I saw Supersize Me at the time, I don't know, I would have been 21 when it came out, like a fat 21-year-old. I remember watching it and thinking, "This makes me feel gross and bad, but I don't know why." Everyone I know seems to love it. I didn't really give it more thought than that, but truly everybody I know was like, "Okay, fast food is the reason that everyone is fat. That is it, that is the core, that is the thing." As we will see today, I don't actually think that this film illustrates a causal link.

Michael: I have no idea where this episode is going, but in general, I think that you can smuggle in a lot of really retrograde ideas, if you package them as anti-corporate, or social justice, or anti-inequality. I don't know if that's what we're going to find in this, but most of the people who eat at McDonald's are poor people. [laughs] 

Aubrey: Yes. 

Michael: You can see, I have a bit of a radar for where we might be going with this.

Aubrey: Yep, you might just have a radar for it. You might have-- [crosstalk] 

Michael: I've nailed it. 

Aubrey: You've been hosting the show with me for a year and a half. 

Michael: I know.

Aubrey: I have a sense of how these episodes tend to fucking go. [laughs] 

Michael: Not [crosstalk] over here, unfortunately.

Aubrey: One thing before we dive in, folks may be familiar that there was a very unusual MeToo situation with the director Morgan Spurlock a couple of years ago. There will be discussion today of specific weights, calories, health marker numbers, all that kind of stuff, but also, toward the end, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and alcoholism. So, just take care.

Michael: I didn't even know you got MeToo-ed. Now, I'm [crosstalk].

Aubrey: Oh, my fucking God, Mike, if you don't know about this part where oof, get ready.

Michael: I really don't. We're at this extremely bleak cultural moment where there're so many trash dudes in this particular industry. 

Aubrey: Yes.

Michael: But I lose track of like, "Who has been exposed and who hasn't?"

Aubrey: Oh. The way I'm going to structure most of our conversation today, we're going to do a little overview of Supersize Me. We're going to talk about the cultural response to it, and then I'm just going to go in on what I think are five major fucking problems with this movie that were knowable in 2004 when it was released. 

Michael: I'm excited. 

Aubrey: Yeah. 

Michael: Take me with you.

Aubrey: I know you like a little structure. So, we got a little structure. 

Michael: I like a little skeleton on the episode.

Aubrey: Well, little skeleton. 

Michael: It's giving skeleton. Yeah.

Aubrey: Supersize Me was a very splashy documentary released in 2004 that was both directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock. At the time, he had been a playwright, he had done some standup comedy, he'd worked on some gross out kind of shows for MTV, and this was his big claim to fame. So, just to start us off, we're just going to watch the trailer together. 

Michael: Oh.

Aubrey: Oh, we're going to have clips today. We're going to clips on clips on clips. 

Michael: Oh, clip shows. 

Aubrey: After our Fat Camps episode, there are a bunch of emotionally brutal moments in this and I was like, "You know, we don't need to do is watch those."

Michael: [laughs] We're only doing the light hearted. 

Aubrey: Well, we're just doing shit we haven't felt bad about before on this show. [laughs] 

Michael: [crosstalk] guest for the show. [laughs] 

Aubrey: All right, I sent you the link. 

Michael: All right.

Aubrey: Let me know when you're queued up, and then you can just count us down.

Female Speaker: Hello, how can I help you? 

Morgan: Yeah, could I get the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal? 

Female Speaker: Large or supersize.

Morgan: I think I'm going to have to go supersize.

Female Speaker 2: It's hard for me to watch him go through this. 

Female Speaker 3: it seems like you're starting to get addicted to it now.

Male Speaker 2: You saw these numbers, right? His numbers are outrageous. 

Female Speaker 2: Unfortunately, you have caused some major harm to your heart, your liver, your blood. 

Male Speaker 2: You are going to die. You will die.

Morgan: I want more. More, and more, and more.

Male Speaker 2: Just couldn't stop.

Michael: I guess, the normal stuff that you can hear about how the food is addictive and he's "going to die." But then it's intercut with shots of a doll of Pennywise, the clown from It.

Aubrey: [laughs] 

Michael: It's like da-da--

Aubrey: No, no, it's Ronald McDonald Pennywise. 

Michael: Oh, is that what it was supposed to be? 

Aubrey: It's a painting of Ronald McDonald as Pennywise. 

Michael: Oh, that's a little on the nose even for 2004. Then, we have the comedic music, which they always put into these trailers, and then, we cut to a bunch of B roll of headless fat people.

Aubrey: Just fat butts in sweatpants or leggings. Preferably, the leggings.

Michael: I know. It's disappointing to see that in this because you've primed me to define all the ways that this movie [crosstalk]. But it's like, "Oh, yeah, we were doing that. We were just doing that everywhere."

Aubrey: It was astonishing how much of that footage was in this film. 

Michael: Oh, really? 

Aubrey: If there were shots, where there was a belly hanging out over pants or something, they would find that if there was a butt with a lot of cellulites in it. It felt really clear that they were trying to use fat bodies to gross people out as part of illustrating the proposed villainy of McDonald's.

Michael: On some level, it's pretty fucked up that I remember this as a fun anti corporate romp. 

Aubrey: Yeah, totally. 

Michael: It's not even worth remembering in my head that this movie had any of those tropes. I think that's also indicative about how my thinking has changed on this issue. 

Aubrey: Sure. 

Michael: But also, just that stuff was everywhere. It was everywhere. 

Aubrey: It was totally everywhere. 

Michael: Yeah.

Aubrey: Essentially, the central conceit of the film is that Morgan Spurlock, who has a girlfriend who's a vegan chef, he's very careful to emphasize that he lives in New York City. So, he walks a ton all the time. He is going to do this experiment, where the only food that he eats for 30 days comes from McDonald's. Anytime they prompt him to supersize, he super sizes, which was-- For folks, God, I guess we have to explain what supersizing was. 

Michael: I know, right? 

Aubrey: [laughs] There used to be at McDonald's in the US, you will get small, medium, large, and then they added this category called supersize, and the whole ad campaign was like for 39 cents, or for 49 cents, or for some very nominal amount. You could get this gigantic container of fries and soda. 

Michael: Yes. 

Aubrey: So, anytime they asked him that he would supersize. He also aims for what he says is the average amount of steps an American gets in a day, which at that point, he says was 5,000 steps. So, he wears a pedometer, and when he's getting close to 5,000 steps, he starts taking cabs.

Michael: Oh, he's trying to live the average American lifestyle. He's trying to recreate the car centric, no walking, all fast-food lifestyle of the average American as conceived up by him.

Aubrey: He's doing that on the exercise side but on the food side, the average American is not eating three meals a day at McDonald's every day for a month, right? 

Michael: Yeah.

Aubrey: Also, I think none of the rules say that he has to eat everything that he orders, but he seems to do that. None of the rules say that he has to get full sugar sodas, but he does that too.

Michael: Obviously, he's stacking the deck, so that his health markers get as bad and he gains as much weight as possible.

Aubrey: Yes. The results of his experiment as the film presents them are also really splashy. We're going to watch this clip from the end of the film, where he recaps. Here's what happened to my health.

Michael: I remember this.

Morgan: And only 30 days of eating nothing but McDonald's, I gained 24 and a half pounds. My liver turned to fat and my cholesterol shot up 65 points. My body fat percentage went from 11% to 18%. Still below the national average of 22% for men and 30% for women. I nearly doubled my risk of coronary heart disease making myself twice as likely to have heart failure. I felt depressed and exhausted most of the time, my mood swung on a dime, and my sex life was nonexistent. I craved this food more and more when I ate it and gotten massive headaches when I didn't. My final blood test, many of my body functions showed signs of improvement, but the doctors were less than optimistic.

Aubrey: Tell me what you think seeing it now?

Michael: Now, I host a podcast that debunks health junk science. 

Aubrey: [laughs] 

Michael: Now, I'm like, "Mm." I see some red flag.

Aubrey: [laughs] Tell me about the red flags.

Michael: The addiction stuff seems fake. I get headaches when I don't eat it stuff seems fake. I doubled my risk of heart attacks is also an interesting question, because people his age are extremely unlikely to get a heart attack. 

Aubrey: Yeah. 

Michael: I don't know what that actually means to say that he's twice as likely to get heart failure.

Aubrey: Well and risk is prediction based in other markers.

Michael: Right. 

Aubrey: You don't go to the doctor and they don't put a stethoscope to your heart and go, "Oh, you've doubled your risk for heart disease." No, they're looking at multiple other markers to predict that risk.

Michael: Right. 

Aubrey: It's not as hard and fast as say his cholesterol going up. That's alarming. I get that.

Michael: Also, speaking of hard and fast, the stuff about sex doesn't check out to me either. 

Aubrey: Oh, God.

Michael: There was a little circle. It circled his junk, and then it said, worthless next time. 

Aubrey: Yes. 

Michael: Which is actually pretty funny as like a visual. But the idea that fast food affects your sex drive, I don't know.

Aubrey: Yeah. Well and also, there is some stuff in the film of his girlfriend, who as we mentioned earlier is, her Chiron in the film says like, "healthy vegan chef." 

Michael: Okay.

Aubrey: There's quite a bit where she talks about like, "We're not having good sex," but there's not really an exploration of-- She talks quite a bit about being really unsettled by this project, really not into it, really opposed to it, and she is also a very thin person. So, I don't know how much of that is a direct result of food that is impacting his performance, and how much of that is her being like, "I'm grossed out by this dude who's eating at McDonald's, which I'm morally opposed to, or I'm grossed out by this dude who's gaining weights." 

Michael: Right.

Aubrey: It's also a very possible thing, and is a thing that people would happily and proudly say out loud in 2004 to anyone who would listen.

Michael: Also, they needed some tension in this movie that-

Aubrey: Sure. Yeah. 

Michael: You have to have some stakes in the main personal narrative. 

Aubrey: Yes. 

Michael: I mean, not to say that they were faking it or anything, but again, they have the incentive to play up the tensions that this created in their relationship.

Aubrey: It's worth noting that this was an extremely award-winning documentary at the time. 

Aubrey: It won Sundance's documentary directing award. It won the WGA award for documentary screenplay. It was nominated for an Oscar for best feature-length documentary. 

Michael: Oh, God.

Aubrey: I will say, I feel I've already tipped my hand on this. I'm not a fan of this film. 

Michael: Ooh, twist.

Aubrey: [laughs] 

Michael: Oh, we've reached the big [crosstalk] reveal.

Aubrey: [crosstalk] surprise, surprise. 

Michael: [laughs] 

Aubrey: Like I said, I'm really impressed upon by the number of really good thoughtful people who were also pretty far to the left and had pretty good analysis of power, and privilege, and all that kind of stuff, who went so happily into the world of this movie, and went so happily along with it, and so unquestioningly along with it.

Michael: Man, I definitely was one of those people who unquestioningly accepted it. 

Aubrey: Yeah. 

Michael: I'm not going to try to get myself off the hook by saying that, "Why didn't I read in the New Yorker that there was any debate about this?" 

Aubrey: Yeah. 

Michael: Yeah, I just don't remember it being the target of any kind of controversy. It was just really obvious that fast food is bad and yeah, it's making us fat and sick. 

Aubrey: Yeah, I think it's really fucking hard to talk about the degree to which particularly white people on the left are willing to go real fucking hard on fast food, but never articulate the class and race politics that go right to that.

Michael: Right.

Aubrey: When you are thinking and talking about who eats at McDonald's, you're talking about poor people, you're probably imagining people of color. 

Michael: Right. 

Aubrey: All of that unchecked weird classism, and racism, and all that kind of stuff rears its head and is rocket fuel to powering this disdain with McDonald's, which is also great deal of disdain like who eats at McDonald's, right? 

Michael: Yeah. It's so annoying because McDonald's really is trash. 

Aubrey: It's shitty. 

Michael: It's frustrating. 

Aubrey: It's a shitty corporation. 

Michael: Google McDonald's labor practices, if you want to get really depressed.

Aubrey: Yeah. I am uninterested in defending the corporate practices of McDonald's. 

Michael: [laughs] I know.

Aubrey: Had a fucking [crosstalk] 

Michael: I know. 

Aubrey: But I'm also uninterested in allowing critiques of McDonald's by people who don't eat at McDonald's to power the stigma and judgment of people who do.

Michael: What I'm taking away from this so far is that the only entities that you have defended on the show are Angela Lansbury and McDonald's Corporation. 

Aubrey: Yes. 


Michael: Unproblematic fame [laughs] 

Aubrey: So, should we dig into the five things that I think this gets wrong?

Michael: Yes, debunk me. Put me in the debunk bed.

Aubrey: Debunk beds. 

Michael: Yeah. 

Aubrey: The first thing that I think is not right is that it misrepresents key facts and it does so repeatedly.

Michael: Okay. 

Aubrey: The first one, this is like a gimme in Maintenance Phase world. It uncritically and repeatedly uses the 300,000 deaths each year from obesity number.

Michael: Oh, our old friend on the show. 

Aubrey: Uh-huh. Mortality estimates are really hard to get to in terms of isolating a single cause for someone's death- 

Michael: Right. 

Aubrey: -and that 300,000 deaths number came from, we assume that every fat person who died, died of being fat. 

Michael: Right. 

Aubrey: Either Morgan Spurlock and those team that made this film were not looking at the primary sources, or they didn't care to talk about it, or they're just looking at popular media and reporting out the news that are in popular media. All three of those do not speak highly to the research of the film.

Michael: Yeah. I mean, they needed the biggest number to establish the stakes of their documentary.

Aubrey: There is another really fucking important key fact that he misrepresents here, and that the media widely misrepresented here. He said that the inspiration for making this film with a 2002 lawsuit filed against McDonald's called Pelman v. McDonald's. 

Michael: Is this the woman who was suing McDonald's because she was fat, basically?

Aubrey: Yeah. You totally nailed like, "That was the thing." It was like, "Oh, my God. Can you believe how absurd, and how self-important, and how uninformed-

Michael: I know.

Aubrey: -people can be that they would sue McDonald's, because they said they were surprised that it made them fat?" So, two things. One, this wasn't some lady suing McDonald's. These were two black teenagers from the Bronx. There was a huge fucking pylon from white media, but also, that's not what the fucking lawsuit was. 

Michael: It never is. 

Aubrey: I looked up all of the original fucking court filings and a bunch of legal analysis of this case. 

Michael: Oh, yeah. 

Aubrey: Like, let's roll. 

Michael: [laughs] 

Aubrey: This was designed as the first case in a wave of impact litigation. 

Michael: Right.

Aubrey: Impact litigation with lawsuits that are designed to change laws, or practices, or regulations, or jurisprudence. The goal of this suit largely as far as most of the legal analysis that I read found was to engage in discovery and reveal publicly a bunch of internal documents about McDonald's shitty corporate practices. The ground for this suit was that McDonald's was engaging in false advertising, and that it knew that its product was dangerous, and did not disclose that danger to consumers. The framework that they're using here is essentially the same kind of framework that gets us Surgeon General's warnings on packs of cigarettes. 

Michael: Right.

Aubrey: That's the thing that they're aiming at. Not that it makes people fat per se, although that is absolutely part of it and its garbage rhetoric, but much more that the issue here is this company is producing a product that they know is dangerous, and they're not warning consumers, and we have a precedent for these companies being expected to warn consumers of the dangers of their products, and they're not doing that.

Michael: Right. 

Aubrey: That lawsuit, it dragged on for fucking ever. It was dismissed without prejudice a couple years after it was filed by the judge, and it wasn't until 2010 that it was finally denied class action status. 

Michael: Okay. 

Aubrey: I'm going to send you a quote from a really helpful piece of analysis from Bloomberg Law.

Michael: Okay. It says, "It will be extraordinarily difficult for any plaintiff individually or as part of a class to hold a single food or beverage manufacturer liable for obesity- related injuries. In order to prevail on any theory of liability requiring proof of medical causation, a plaintiff must prove that the manufacturers product was the substantial cause of her injury, not just one of a number of contributing causes. The problem of obesity in America has no single cause." That's what I was going to say is, it's really hard to draw a straight line from McDonald's to food-related illness in America. You can say the fast-food industry maybe or the food system, maybe, but the problem is that you can't really pull any specific actor out. 

Aubrey: Yeah. I want to be clear. I have deeply fucking mixed feelings about this shit. I think corporations should be able to be held accountable, and should be able to face litigation, and all kinds of stuff. 

Michael: Right. 

Aubrey: But I also think the grounds of this argument being McDonald's is why people are fat, you can't actually fucking prove that. 

Michael: Yeah.

Aubrey: It is almost 20 years later, and we still don't know why most people are fat or how they got that way in a scientifically incontrovertible tested narrative. The idea that 20 years ago with the data we had then we could say, the reason people are fat is McDonald's, just reeks of, we're looking for someone to blame. 

Michael: Yeah. 

Aubrey: In this film, he talks about this lawsuit a little tiny bit, and then he interviews the attorney lead plaintiff's representation in this lawsuit, and he asks him, "Okay, so, why were you interested in this case?" The guy smiles and he goes, "You mean aside from financial incentives?" 

Michael: Oh, mm.

Aubrey: That's the only clip he shows of the lawyer. 

Michael: Nice. 

Aubrey: He's pretty much just like, "Oh, this is just a bunch of greedy lawyers doing frivolous lawsuits, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah," and he doesn't really get into-- Actually, this lawsuit is trying to prove the same point that you are, I think you're both incorrect or at least not getting the complete picture here. 

Michael: Yeah, that's weird. 

Aubrey: I don't know, man. The whole thing just skews me out so hard because I don't think that the grounds for this lawsuit or the argument for this lawsuit is a good one. But I also don't think that the way that it was portrayed was accurate.

Michael: Right. And also, if they had gotten to the discovery phase, they probably would have gotten some really good stuff honestly. [laughs] 

Aubrey: They totally fucking would have. I have no fucking doubt that they're straight up Skeletor memos coming out of fucking McDonald's corporate HQ. 

Michael: Yeah. 

Aubrey: Okay, thing two. This is where we get into some smoking gun territory. 

Michael: Ooh. 

Aubrey: Supersize Me withholds important information about its experiment.

Michael: I've been waiting for this because he must have been twisting these medical numbers, and his routines, and everything. On its face, that stuff doesn't really hold up.

Aubrey: Throughout the film, Morgan Spurlock and whose nutritionists both say that he was eating about 5,000 calories a day. They say it several times. A number of other filmmakers, there were rebuttal documentaries to Supersize Me at the time. 

Michael: Okay. 

Aubrey: A number of those documentarian some reporters, and other folks like science teachers tried to figure out how to make this happen based on the McDonald's menu at the time, and they could not get to 5,000 calories per day.

Michael: Wait, but I don't understand how you can't get to 5,000 calories. Can't you just go in there and buy 12 milkshakes?

Aubrey: What they were saying is one breakfast meal, one lunch meal, one dinner meal. Even desserts with lunch and dinner, they were still like can't get there.

Michael: Oh. If you do a Big Mac Extra Value Meal for lunch and dinner, and then the breakfast meal for breakfast, that doesn't get you anywhere close to 5,000 calories.

Aubrey: And even if you add McFlurries or whatever to-

Michael: Wow. 

Aubrey: -lunch and dinner, it still didn't get folks to 5,000 calories.

Michael: He should have done it at The Cheesecake Factory.

Aubrey: [laughs] You do that in one dish. 

Michael: Yeah. Wait, let me clickety click here. I'm actually really curious now. Big Mac Calories. I'm sure it's changed since 2004. 

Aubrey: I'm sure it has to. 

Michael: Yeah. A Big Mac itself is 553 calories today. 

Aubrey: Yep. 

Michael: You'd have to eat nine Big Macs in a day to get you to 5,000 calories, which is a lot. 

Aubrey: Totally. Again, it feels like just a little nudge in the direction of, it seems this is being sensationalized, it seems things are being overstated a little bit. Some folks tried to replicate the health effects of his experiment and no one has been able to. 

Michael: The health stuff, I'm sure that in 30 days, you could affect your health markers. I don't know if you can get them to near death. 

Aubrey: Okay. Oh, Michael. 

Michael: [laughs] You're primed. 

Aubrey: I'm so fucking ready. 

Michael: You're coiled up like a little leopard right now. [laughs] 

Aubrey: Yes. [laughs] I am so deeply ready to fucking pounce. 

Michael: [laughs] 

Aubrey: Two things. One in the trailer, we've got this clip of the doctor being like, "You're going to die, you'd die." 

Michael: Yeah. 

Aubrey: That's in response to a question that Spurlock asks where he says like, "if I continue this for months or years, what would happen?"

Michael: Oh, so, it's in response to a hypothetical. It's not him saying you're going to die. 

Aubrey: It's not him saying, you're going to die in the space of this 30 days. But more than that, one of the biggest smoking gun things that this film presents is that Spurlock had significant liver damage from 30 days. Just one month of eating this way and he's like, "Oh, my God, look what happened to my liver?' So, the film doesn't offer us any explanation for that liver damage other than 30 days of McDonald's. In 2017, Morgan Spurlock disclosed that he was an alcoholic and said that he had been drinking every week. He had not been sober for a week since he was 13. 

Michael: Oh. 

Aubrey: Decades and decades of hard drinking, and then at the end of this film, they're like, "Oh, my God, look at the liver damage you sustained just from one month of McDonald's" is what you're meant to conclude from that? 

Michael: Yeah, so, they didn't take a baseline? 

Aubrey: If they did, they do not specifically talk about the state of his liver at the beginning of that film.

Michael: So, it's like me going to the doctor and they're like, "You are 5'6". I'm like, "After 30 days of this diet, I'm 5'6"."

Aubrey: Yes. 

Michael: He says, "You've been 5'6" for a while." [laughs] 

Aubrey: Yes. Alcoholism is a fucking beast, it's terrible. I have no desire to dunk on somebody who's in the thick of their alcoholism. At the same time, this is a self-funded movie where he is the director, he is making the decisions about how the film is structured, and he has decided to make his body the site of an experiment about the health effects of something, and he's withholding a major fucking piece of information. It doesn't fucking hold water that you can be like, "Oh my god, one month of McDonald's and his liver was fried." It's like, "No, fucking 20 years of drinking and his liver was fried."

Michael: Yeah. Actually, I remember that being a huge part of why the movie was so convincing.

Aubrey: Yes. This topic is heavily, heavily requested for us. A lot, a lot, a lot of people have asked about Supersize Me. Most of them have been younger than you and I, and the reason that they have requested it is and I talked to a friend of mine, who said that he watched this film in health class every year for years. 

Michael: Oh.

Aubrey: This is a major part to this day of health curricula in schools. Okay, are you ready for thing three? 

Michael: Oh, give me thing three. 

Aubrey: Okay. Thing three, that is the trouble with Supersize Me. It doesn't really identify problems or proposed meaningful solutions.

Michael: Okay. 

Aubrey: It points the finger at McDonald's, but it also makes fun of people, who eat at McDonald's. He talks in the film about what McDonald's calls its heavy users, those are people who eat there about three times a week. That's what McDonald's considers a heavy user. He does a little animation while he's talking about this, and he animates all of these heavy users as people my size or larger. I kept looking for other ways around this and it was just like, "Man, this guy really fucking does not like fat people." 

Michael: Yeah. 

Aubrey: He does a bunch of man on the street, he interviews with people who eat at McDonald's, and you're supposed to laugh at them, you're supposed to judge them. It is as damning of the consumers as it is of the corporation. But it doesn't really give either actual path to change aside from like, "You have a choice of where to eat, don't eat here" instead of as far as he goes. 

Michael: Right. It's really weird to demonize this corporation, but also demonize the people who buy the products from the corporation. Without really interrogating, "Well, why do people eat there?" 

Aubrey: Yeah. I think this is part of the challenge here is that it doesn't engage at all with anything related to access to healthcare. It doesn't engage with the built environment. He says a couple of times throughout the film. He's like, "It'd be nice if they got rid of supersizes," but he doesn't go. Here's what McDonald's actually needs to fucking do. 

Michael: Right.

Aubrey: He's just like, "McDonald's fucking sucks and people who eat their fucking suck." He uses the language of corporate responsibility, but at its core, it's pushing for personal responsibility.

Michael: It's all clicking into place now why I like this in my early 20s? 

Aubrey: Oh, tell me. 

Michael: This was my entire ideology in my early 20s. 

Aubrey: [laughs] 

Michael: It was just like, "This thing sucks. This other thing sucks." 

Aubrey: [laughs] 

Michael: Without any actual political philosophy or any deeper understanding, it's just like, "Yeah, cars suck, but also traffic sucks and finding a parking spot sucks. Climate change sucks." But I wasn't putting those together into any theory of like, "How should we address cars under climate change?" It was just like, "This is the thing that I hate today." 

Aubrey: The politics of-- Boo! 


Michael: Okay. It's also not clear to me that fast food is actually uniquely bad for people. 

Aubrey: Yeah. 

Michael: I think if you look up the ingredients of most fast food, they're not that different than ingredients that a loaf of bread that you buy at the grocery store. 

Aubrey: Yeah. 

Michael: To me, it's like there's this much bigger systemic problem with the way that food is inspected, the way that food is produced. I think that McDonald's is bad, but it's not clear to me that they're worse than any other restaurant. 

Aubrey: Again, as you noted, the fucking Cheesecake Factory, man. [laughs] 

Michael: Dude, Applebee's have a lot to answer for fast casual is if anything worse than fast food because your guard isn't up.

Aubrey: I think a lot of this media around demonizing fast food. A lot of it really seems to presume that either no one is consuming that media who eats at that restaurant or there are people eating that food from that restaurant, who are consuming this media as well, and they just need to be told the straight shit which is that they're dummies for eating this fucking terrible food. Everybody knows it's bad for you, and why would you make such a bad decision. 

Michael: Right. 

Aubrey: Anyway, we're getting further into not great territory here. I am going to send you a clip that we're going to watch for our first item in thing four which is that Supersize Me proudly and incuriously drives stigma. 

Michael: Oh. 

Aubrey: So, I'm going to send you a clip from the film.

Satcher: Left unabated, obesity would overtake smoking as the leading preventable cause of death in this country.

Morgan: I was at this meal and it came up that one of the people was a smoker. Somebody else at the table started hectoring about, "What's the matter with you? How bad it is for you? It'll do this, that, and the other thing to you and you really should stop," and the smoker rather than saying, "Fuck you [laughs] mind your own business," which I think is the appropriate response was a bashed and defensive like, "Oh, I tried to quit, and yeah I'm going to try again, and you're right, you're right, and so on." 

At that same table, there was a quite large woman. I was wondering, what if this guy instead of confronting the smoker had said to the large woman, "What's the matter with you, you fat pig? Don't you know how dangerous it is to be so overweight? Stop eating for God's sake. Don't you dare get dessert and what's the matter?" Same logic, I'd be hard pressed to find a distinction between those two examples. Okay, so one is now socially acceptable to hector smokers, but the other one isn't quite yet. The question is at what point will it become acceptable to publicly hector fat people in the way that the smokers are publicly hectored.

Michael: I love that we're at the point of the documentary, where it's like, "Let's talk to a random libertarian."

Aubrey: [laughs] 

Michael: The guy did [crosstalk] a random writer for reason magazine. 

Aubrey: Yep. 

Michael: He's not even a health speak reporter. 

Aubrey: Nope.

Michael: He's just a random libertarian.

Aubrey: Who's not fat, who's like, "Why doesn't anybody give fat people shit?" I'm like, "You should have asked a fat person about whether or not we're getting shit."

Michael: He also, he does the thing, where it's like, "Oh, so, it's socially acceptable to yell at a smoker, but it's not socially acceptable to yell at a fat person." It's like, "It's extremely socially acceptable to yell at a fat person."

Aubrey: Yes.

Michael: That's not some forbidden truth that fat people are bad. You can't even say it in America anymore. No, that's the consensus position of every institution of American life. You are not a bold truth teller.

Aubrey: Right. It's not edgy to be like, "Oh, fat people suck." That's the fucking status quo.

Michael: Any doctor, any politician, anyone with any societal power will tell you exactly what you just said. It is the least forbidden edgy thing to be saying in American life.

Aubrey: Also like, "Hey, fucko, we actually know now." This is a 2022 looking back on 2004 moment, but we now have quite a bit of data showing that increased stigma and internalization of weight stigma by fat people makes us fucking fatter, not thinner. This is only about making thin people feel better that they are allowed to yell at people who don't look like they look. It's really clear that this film wants to stigmatize fat people and does not particularly want to give fat people a voice. There are a couple of fat people that it talks to, but it really only talks to fat people who confirm Morgan Spurlock's hypothesis here. 

One of the people, one of the fat people that he talks to is a type 2 diabetic, who drinks large amounts of soda and he's interviewed while he is in a hospital bed getting ready to go in for weight loss surgery. The other currently fat person that it talks to is a fat teen in an extremely painful scene. I would say for me, this teen's mom is talking to a guest speaker, who came to her school, who came to talk about weight loss stuff. This mom is speaking for her child and is saying things like, "She's really trying to lose weight, and you're an inspiration to her," and you watch this fat teenager look at the camera while her mom is talking about everything, she's doing to manage her weight. It's so gross and so uncomfortable. The film offers up one "success story fat person" and that story did not fucking age well. Would you like to know who the guest speaker was at that fat teens High School? Early 2000s Weight Loss icon, Jared Fogle. 

Michael: Oh, fuck. [laughs] Oh, my God.

Aubrey: Yeah. 

Michael: Whoa.

Aubrey: Do you want to give a rundown of who Jared Fogle is?

Michael: I think we'll probably end up doing a whole episode at some point, but he was a guy who was in an ad campaign for Subway originally talking about how he used to weigh some large amount and then he lost half his body weight or something, these generic success stories. By eating Subway, he would have there like veggie sub or something, and then he became a cultural figure. He would show up in various other weight loss media stuff, was like a spokesman. Then, yeah, he was eventually arrested for, I believe having child pornography on his computer.

Aubrey: Yeah, it's worse than that. 

Michael: Oh, isn't it? 

Aubrey: Yes. He was a spokesperson for Subway sandwiches. They lifted up his story because he said that he had lost 250 pounds by getting up every day walking to Subway and having subway sandwiches, basically twice a day, essentially as a meal replacement plan. He was a spokesperson for them for 15 years, a really long time. 

Michael: Oh, wow. 

Aubrey: In 2015, Jared Fogle pled guilty in federal court to distribution in possession of child pornography and to traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor. 

Michael: God, I remember noping out of that story very ugly.

Aubrey: You were correct to do so. 

Michael: I was like, "This is super dark. I don't want to know anything else." Jesus Christ. 

Aubrey: Yeah. Two details. One, his defense team genuinely argued, they had a forensic psychologist who said that the reason for the sexual abuse was the weight loss. 

Michael: Oh, what?

Aubrey: They argued that he replaced compulsive eating with what they call the hypersexuality in the form of child porn and child sex abuse, to which I say, fucking nope, get the fuck out of here. 

Michael: That's fucked up. I'm speechless. I don't know if I've been speechless on the show before, it's like-

Aubrey: It's astonishing.

Michael: -"Oh, that's bleak." 

Aubrey: It's so bleak. Even in the context of the film, he's not fucking helping.

Michael: Well, why he's even there? He lost a bunch of weight, but he doesn't have anything to do with McDonald's.

Aubrey: Well, this is the thing about this film is that there's a narrative, but it's a collage of moments and attitudes toward fatness and fat people, and McDonald's and fast food, and all of this stuff. It just throws shit in the guy being like, "When do we get to start hectoring fat people in public?" It doesn't fucking say anything about it. It does the same thing with Jared. They show a shot of him standing on stage at a fucking high school holding up his old pants that he wore when he was at his fattest. I was just watching it being like, "Why is he here, what is this about?" 

Michael: Yeah.

Aubrey: I would like to show you a little clip of-- We're not going to watch Jared. We don't need that in our lives. But we are going to watch that same fat teen, then speaks directly to the camera. Here is what that fat teen has to say about what Jared had to say to her.

Fat Teen: I guess it's kind of hard to know somebody or listen to somebody talk about actually being where I am right now, it's so hard because I can't afford, so, I could go there every single day and buy a sandwich two times a day. That's what he's talking about. That's the only solution like, that's what he says, but I worked the best that I can do that and I've tried other ways, and it hurt my body from doing other ways that I've tried to do, and its hard to look at someone who said, "Hey, I've done it. So, you can do it." But it's not that easy.

Aubrey: Tell me your thoughts.

Michael: That's more bleak than the Jared Fogle stuff.

Aubrey: [laughs] Oh, no. I'm so sorry, I was like, "This will be the lighter part."

Michael: I'm being slightly hyperbolic. Basically, she's near to tears and she's saying like, "Yeah, I've tried this."

Aubrey: And I've hurt my body. 

Michael: Yeah, it's hurt my body, and I can't afford this. Basically, what you're offering me is garbage. This is not remotely workable for me.

Aubrey: This isn't a thing that functions for me. Yeah. 

Michael: Right. This is totally irrelevant to me. Yeah, I wish you would listen to me when I say like, "That doesn't work for me." 

Aubrey: Yeah.

Michael: I wish someone would take that seriously. I'm telling you in very clear terms. But oh, guess you're just going to tell me the same thing that you tell everybody and just keep telling me, I got to do it again. Great. Thank you.

Aubrey: Right. It doesn't offer anything on that front. It just drops that in and then it's like, "Anyway, moving on." 

Michael: Right. 

Aubrey: Then their next fucking story is about this dude, who worked for Baskin Robbins and got real sick. 

Michael: Okay. 

Aubrey: Okay. It just goes right back to stigmatizing shit. This fat teenager, who is ostensibly who you are talking about in this film is like, "I'm telling you that your approach doesn't work for me," and it's like, "Anyway, on to the next. Here's another." 

Michael: Yeah, anyway. 

Aubrey: Fat person, who died because they were too dumb to stop eating is like sort of the vibe, and it's just like, "This is unhelpful."

Michael: If only she had listened to the infamous pedophile, she'd be doing better.

Aubrey: Jesus fucking Christ. At the end of this film, it does a whole thing that's like, where are they now? 

Michael: Oh, no.

Aubrey: That's like, where are all these people? The closing title card says, "Jared Fogle continues to inspire millions with his willpower and giant pants."

Michael: [laughs] That's so dark. It's not funny, but this is my emotional reaction. 

Aubrey: Laughter is the way of discharging discomfort. That's a way of getting it out of you. I get you. That's also one of my primary responses. 

Michael: Yeah. 

Aubrey: I don't want to do too much of the 2022 looking back on 2004. But boy, oh, boy, that is some real fucking damning shit.

Michael: It's hard to watch. 

Aubrey: That is rough in retrospect to be like, he's inspiring millions and I'm like, "No."

Michael: Again, this documentary is still being shown in schools. 

Aubrey: Yeah, sir.

Michael: What did they do when the kids are like, "Who is that guy?" 

Aubrey: It's so fucked.

Michael: [laughs] Let me tell you a story about this particular guest star.

Aubrey:  Oh, I told you before this episode, I was like, "I'm going to be a little swearsy this time, I think, but maybe not." This is the shit where I'm like, "I can't." 

Michael: Yeah. 

Aubrey: I cannot swear about Jared Fogle. Okay, can we move on to the fifth thing? 

Michael: Fifth thing. 

Aubrey: Okay. The fifth thing is when people talk about Supersize Me, they talk about like it actually created a bunch of good change in the world. My fifth thing is the change that it created wasn't good and, in many cases, it wasn't change.

Michael: Right. They got rid of the supersize as I guess. 

Aubrey: That was the big headline. 

Michael: Yeah.

Aubrey: McDonald's proudly announced that they stopped supersizing portions. You can't get supersize fries anymore at McDonald's. But when you start to look at what was the supersize and some of the reporting at the time, it gets a little murkier. Supersize drink was 42 ounces. That is a lot of fucking soda. The largest size now is 32 ounces. So, significantly less, about a quarter less. Except a couple of reporters at the time, when this announcement came out that they were not going to supersize anymore, they were like, "Well, let's see what the difference is." There was this fucking reporter and I was like, "God bless this person for being like, what am I going to do with my day today? I'm going to do this. I'm going to get a supersize coke, and a large coke, and I'm going to strain out the ice and measure how much soda it is in each one." 

Michael: The guerrilla journalism we need. 

Aubrey: And it was the same amount of soda.

Michael: Nice. 

Aubrey: They were putting more ice in the supersize ones and they checked from a couple of different places and blah, blah, blah. A supersize fry was seven ounces. Now, they only have a large and a large is 6.2 ounces. 

Michael: So, basically, the same. 

Aubrey: Basically, the supersize fry had two more fries than a large fry. At the same time, they've taken these the names of supersize stuff off of the menu, but they've also added all of their McCafé coffees which are like, "If you get--." I did look up a plain iced coffee and it has 42 grams of sugar for a plain iced coffee. 

Michael: What, really? 

Aubrey: Yeah.

Michael: Ooh, four grams is a teaspoon of sugar. So, that's 10 teaspoons of sugar.

Aubrey: Right. There's this belief that it pushed McDonald's in the right direction, but it's not as if McDonald's food is less caloric, or healthier, or any of that kind of stuff. As a result, it just means they changed the names of their sizes, and they offer slightly less product and maybe less product. It's hard to read that as anything other than a PR move.

Michael: Well, yeah, the parallel with Subway is instructive, because Subway was not a weight loss, healthy food restaurant. They did this as a PR move to cast themselves as a weight loss company, because Americans were interested in weight loss. Nobody wanted to glorify large sizes at that time. They wanted to glorify health. 

Aubrey: Yes. 

Michael: This was the same time when KFC was changing its name because they didn't want the word 'fried' on the signs. Part of me feels just like you don't want to be marketing something that's bragging about how large it is.

Aubrey: Yes. Shortly after this happens, Wendy's and other chains follow suit, Wendy's announces that it is eliminating its Biggie size. Do you remember Biggie size at Wendy's?

Michael: No. We didn't have any Wendy's near my house. I was a Taco Bell kid.

Aubrey: Ah, gotcha. 

Michael: I'm all Taco Bell all the time. Did they remove their eighth layer of the burrito at [crosstalk] Taco Bell?

Aubrey: Wendy's says they're eliminating their Biggie size. What they don't say is that they're changing the name of the Biggie size to a large. They're changing the name of large to medium and they're changing the name of a medium to a small. It's just fucking optics, right? 

Michael: Right.

Aubrey: This is also around the same time that candy companies phased out king size, like, we don't have "king sized candy bars anymore." 

Michael: Is that true?

Aubrey: Yeah. They were like, "We're doing away with king size. We've heard you the health concerns are real, blah, blah, blah." Then, a few months later, things start showing up on shelves that are king size, but they're labeled sharing size. 

Michael: Nice. 

Aubrey: Share it with other people. You can't say, we didn't tell you to share it.

Michael: [laughs] It's so cynical. It's so obvious and so cynical.

Aubrey: It's so cynical. Wait, can I tell you there were a number of rebuttal projects to Supersize Me? They were also fucking unhelpful. Even those rebuttal projects were about going to McDonald's and the focus of most of them was, "I'm going to go to McDonald's and I'm going to lose weight. Are you ready to have your mind blown?"

Michael: Yeah, I remember these. There was a guy that was, yeah, tried to eat healthy at McDonald's, and there was some professor who went on the Twinkie diet to show that you could eat nothing but junk food and still lose weight, calories in calories out. 

Aubrey: I watch a couple of those rebuttal documentaries and they were basically going even harder on personal responsibility because they're like, "You can go to McDonald's, and you can order better things, and then you'll lose weight." 

Michael: I loved it. People saw this and were like, "This isn't libertarian enough." 

Aubrey: Yeah. [laughs] 

Michael: Even more Penn & Teller wrath version of the same movie.

Aubrey: I think it's worth noting that all of these fucking rebuttal projects didn't do anything to challenge any of the bias that existed in Supersize Me. It was all white middle-class people replicating the experiment, but also the biases of another white middle-class [crosstalk] just straight up wealthy white person.

Michael: I feel it's very you that you're livid about the movie that's like, "McDonald's is terrible." But you're also livid about the movies that are like, "McDonald's isn't that bad." 

Aubrey: Yeah. [laughs] 

Michael: You are like, "Actually, you are both trash." [laughs] 

Aubrey: Well, so, here's an example of this. There was quite a bit of media about a science teacher who did a six-month McDonald's experiment. He says, "He lost 60 pounds" and he says this at the time in the media. I'm going to send you a quote from this science teacher.

Michael: He says, "I thought my biggest adversaries were going to be nutritionists, dietitians, and doctors. But those ended up being my biggest backers, because they realized, this guy is right. I'm not pushing McDonald's, I'm not pushing fast food, I'm pushing taking accountability and making the right choice for you individually." But we're back in libertarian will.

Aubrey: And then, McDonald's signed him on to be a corporate ambassador.

Michael: Oh, really? [laughs] That was his try out. 

Aubrey: I'm not pushing fast food. I'm fully working for McDonald's. Fuck, man.

Michael: It's a shallow point, but any weird regimen of restriction, you're probably going to lose weight in the short term. Eating only at McDonald's is a regimen of restriction-

Aubrey: Totally.

Michael: -and then you can't stick with it, because it's really, really boring and it's probably very inconvenient as well, because there's not that many McDonalds' in the world, and you want to go to friends' houses for dinner. So, you can't maintain it and then you gain all the weight back. 

Aubrey: Yes, totally. Here's the last thing that I would say in terms of the change that Supersize Me created and help to power is that, it contributes to the passage of tons and tons of what are called Cheeseburger Bills. 

Michael: Okay.

Aubrey: According to the Lancet, here is what those Cheeseburger Bills did.

Michael: It says, "The US House of Representatives voted 276 to 139 in favor of a bill that would prohibit lawsuits filed by obese Americans seeking to blame the food industry for their weight problems. Cheeseburger Bills or Common Sense Consumption Acts were spearheaded by the National Restaurant Association as well as the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC and have been enacted in 26 States."

Aubrey: These are ALEC Bills. For folks who are unfamiliar, ALEC is this evil empire of far-right policy priorities that they advocate for things like privatizing prisons. But these were bills that passed in plenty of solidly blue States, States that are known to be left of center. Oregon has a fucking Cheeseburger Bill. 

Michael: Oh, yeah. 

Aubrey: But so, does Arizona, so does Maine, so does Michigan, so does North Dakota, so does Wisconsin, so does Illinois. 26 States passed these with support from Democrats and Republicans. It was this battle royale between the moral panics, the dual moral panics about frivolous litigation and the obesity epidemic. Ultimately, while this film wants you to think that it is holding McDonald's accountable, part of the change that it gave way to, like following this film is when a fuck ton of these passed and a fuck ton of them cited Supersize Me in their actual arguments in favor of these bills. Ultimately, what it did is just shield fast food restaurants from any fucking accountability.

Michael: It's really telling that that's what people took away from it or that's what the effect of it was. Because if you believe the ostensible premise of the movie, you should want people to sue McDonald's because McDonald's is poisoning people.

Aubrey: Right. If your belief is, this is really fucking terrible for people and if they eat it, they're going to die, absolutely, you should want more accountability for McDonald's. But again, that's not actually what the film is doing.

Michael: Right. That's not what the project was, even though it looked like corporate accountability at the time. It actually ended up entrenching this narrative of like, "It's too easy to sue corporations in America,' which is still hilarious. Anyone aside from these anecdotes, it's just a laughable idea.

Aubrey: Yeah. So that's Supersize Me. It is difficult to talk about this film or any of Morgan Spurlock's work at this point without talking about his 2017 revelations about sexual assault and harassment. This was during the big wave of MeToo stuff. The thing that makes Morgan Spurlock's different, I can't fucking believe that this did not cross your path. He publicly admitted to it without any prompting.

Michael: Oh, is this the one where it like MeToo was happening and he just put it out there like, "This is going to come out about me."

Aubrey: Yep. On December 13th, 2017, Morgan Spurlock issued a MeToo statement on Twitter called "I am part of the problem." He discloses in this statement that he had "been unfaithful to every wife and girlfriend I have ever had." He says that he was sexually abused in his childhood and teen years, he discloses that his father left when he was young. This is where he said he'd been consistently drinking since the age of 13. It seems pretty clear in the reading of the statement that he really thinks he's doing a good thing. We're going to read a couple of excerpts from his statement. So, here's quote number one. 

Michael: He says, "I'm part of the problem. Over my life, there have been many instances that parallel what we see every day in the news. When I was in college, a girl who I hooked up with on a one-night stand accused me of rape. Not outright. There were no charges or investigations, but she wrote about the instance in a short story writing class and called me by name. A female friend, who was in the class told me about it afterwards. I was floored. "That's not what happened," I told her. This wasn't how I remembered it at all. In my mind, we'd been drinking all night and went back to my room. We began fooling around, she pushed me off, then we laid in the bed, and talked, and laughed some more, then began fooling around again. We took off our clothes. She said, she didn't want to have sex. So, we laid together, and talked, and kissed, and laughed, and then, we started having sex. 

Then she started to cry. I didn't know what to do. We stopped having sex and I rolled beside her. I tried to comfort her to make her feel better. I thought I was doing okay. I believe she was feeling better. She believed she was raped." Okay, my little radar is going off, because this is a man saying that he was accused of sexual assault when actually it was just an honest misunderstanding. It's not every one of these cases, but in a lot of these cases, when you hear from the dude and he describes it as a harmless, misunderstanding, honest mistake thing, you need to also hear from the woman.

Aubrey: Yep. I will say, I didn't find anything where we hear from this particular woman. In one interview, he said he "hadn't heard from her." He describes this thing and he goes, "Oh, I was trying to make her feel better, I was trying to comfort her." But he's also describing a woman who was crying and telling him, she does not want to have sex. Then he's like, "And then, we started having sex." 

Michael: Yeah. 

Aubrey: He's describing this as if he is being a good guy. There's also a reading of what he reports on here that is extremely not him being a good guy. So, here is the other instance that he describes where, again, this feels very unreliable narrator territory to me.

Michael: He says, "Then there was a time, I settled a sexual harassment allegation at my office. This was around eight years ago and it wasn't a gropy feely harassment. It was verbal and it was just as bad. I would call my female assistant hot pants or sex pants when I was yelling to her from the other side of the office. Something I thought was funny at the time, but then realized I had completely demeaned and belittled her to a place of nonexistence. When she decided to quit, she came to me and said, "If I didn't pay her a settlement, she would tell everyone." Being who I was, it was the last thing I wanted. So, of course, I paid. I paid for peace of mind, I paid for her silence incorporation. Most of all, I paid so I could remain who I was. I am part of the problem." 

This also feels like getting ahead of somebody saying like, "Oh, he's paid out a settlement, which probably has an NDA attached." It's him getting ahead of it. Before you learn that piece of information, you learn this thing. It's impossible to read these stories of things that could be some honest misunderstanding without reading them in the context of every fucking guy, who's accused of sexual harassment, who's like, "There was an honest misunderstanding." It always turns out to be a lie. 

Aubrey: Yes. 

Michael: This is really the least objectionable reason you would have paid out a sexual harassment lawsuit. 

Aubrey: Yes. 

Michael: If you were designing in a lab, yes, there's a sexual harassment lawsuit against me but, and then you have some nice explanations. This is exactly the explanation that you come up with. 

Aubrey: Well, and even still, he's painting this as, essentially, she was blackmailing him. She said, "If I didn't pay her off, she'd tell everybody. I being the good guy that I am, that wasn't being who I was, it was last thing I wanted. So, of course, I paid." He's casting aspersions on the person he says he's owning up to treating poorly. 

Michael: Yeah. 

Aubrey: On the heels of his statement and his couple of confessions that are from an unreliable narrator, Jezebel does some in depth reporting about the experiences of women who worked for his production company. The title of this story is, former employees say Morgan Spurlock's production company was "Fratty Boys' Club."

Michael: Yeah. Surprise twist.

Aubrey: Multiple employees talk to them about how "the Scotch came out at 4 PM in the office, when he and his partner had meetings with women that they found attractive. They would say, "Oh, she gave good meeting." If they didn't find those, like, women that they met with attractive according to Jezebel, one of the former employees said that they would just outright say, I wish she was more attractive. You mentioned, it seems he's trying to get out ahead of something. He releases the statement on December 13th, 2017. The Jezebel piece comes out on December 19th, 2017. 

Michael: Oh, okay. 

Aubrey: I feel there's a very real possibility that he caught wind of the story, or that someone tipped him off, or that Jezebel called him for comment, or whatever. Then he issues the statement to be like, "Here's what I did."

Michael: Yeah. 

Aubrey: The follow up for him was within a matter of days, he goes into rehab for alcoholism, he loses his distribution deal with Supersize Me, too. 

Michael: Oh, wow. 

Aubrey: He's dropped from a bunch of projects. He's got a TNT series that he was creating with Sarah Jessica Parker about women's issues. 

Michael: [laughs] 

Aubrey: He says later in the media that he lost his staff of 65 people working for him. 

Michael: I don't know if we've had another self-cancellation like this. 

Aubrey: Yeah. 

Michael: Because it's actually fascinating. We haven't heard from the women at all. There's no specific victim.

Aubrey: Yes. They are absent from this public conversation, which is their right if it's their choice. I don't know if it's their choice. I don't know. I'm guessing as you said, there's an NDA. But the anchor point for these conversations about sexual assault and harassment have to be the survivors of that sexual assault and harassment. I think that's also frankly part of the problem with Supersize Me. It is the [unintelligible [01:00:51] example of a conversation about fat people without meaningful participation from any fat people and a bunch of fucking thin people sitting around going like, "When do we get to start publicly hectoring fat people?" 

Michael: Right.

Aubrey: It essentially only engages with fat people who prove his point. We talk about this fucking fat high schooler who's like, "Jared Fogle's advice was not helpful to me." Which I'm like, "Fucking yeah." 

Michael: Yeah. 

Aubrey: It introduces all of this logic that is extremely reductive. It reduces fat people to fast food eaters, it reduces regular fast-food eaters to every day, every meal fast-food eaters, it reduces those meals of fast food that people eat to perceived poor decision making, and it's hiding the ball on a bunch of the splashiest conclusions.

Michael: Hiding the balls also on effect of eating [unintelligible [01:01:46].

Aubrey: Oh, God. Damn it Michael, no. Michael, you're fired. I hate this.

Michael: [laughs] 

Aubrey: I quit.