Super Size Me filmmaker Morgan Spurlock dies of cancer at age 53

Morgan Spurlock, an Oscar nominee who ate only at McDonald’s for a month to illustrate the dangers of a fast-food diet, has died. He was 53 years old. Photo / AP

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, an Oscar nominee whose most famous works criticized the American food industry and who notably ate only at McDonald’s for a month to illustrate the dangers of a fast-food diet, has died. He was 53 years old.

Spurlock died in New York on Thursday from complications of cancer, according to a statement issued today by his family.

“It was a sad day as we said goodbye to my brother Morgan,” Craig Spurlock, who worked with him on several projects, said in the statement. “Morgan gave so much through his art, ideas and generosity. The world has lost a true creative genius and a special man. “I am very proud to have worked alongside him.”

Spurlock made a splash in 2004 with his groundbreaking film. Super Size Me, which was nominated for an Academy Award. The film chronicles the detrimental physical and psychological effects of Spurlock eating only McDonald’s food for 30 days. He gained about 11 kg, experienced an increase in his cholesterol and lost her sexual desire.

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“Everything is bigger in America,” he said in the film. “We have the biggest cars, the biggest houses, the biggest companies, the biggest food and, finally, the biggest people.”

In one scene, Spurlock showed the children a photograph of George Washington and none of them recognized the Founding Father. But everyone instantly recognized the Wendy’s and McDonald’s mascots.

The film grossed over $22 million on a $65,000 budget and preceded the release of Eric Schlosser’s influential film. FAST FOOD NATIONwhich accused the industry of being bad for the environment and plagued by labor problems.

Spurlock returned in 2017 with Super Size Me 2: Holy shit! – a sober look at an industry that processes 9 billion animals a year in the United States. It focused on two issues: chicken farmers trapped in a peculiar financial system and fast-food chains’ attempt to fool customers into believing they are eating healthier.

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“We’re in an incredible moment in history from a consumer standpoint, where consumers are starting to have more and more power,” he told The Associated Press in 2019. “It’s not about shareholder returns. “It’s about returns for consumers.”

Morgan Spurlock exposed the fast food and chicken industries in his documentaries.  Photo / AP
Morgan Spurlock exposed the fast food and chicken industries in his documentaries. Photo / AP

Spurlock was a gonzo filmmaker who leaned toward the strange and ridiculous. His stylistic touches included fast graphics and fun music, combining a Michael Moore-style in-your-face camera style with his own sense of humor and pathos.

“He wanted to be able to support me in serious moments. I wanted to be able to breathe in moments of lightness. “We want to give you permission to laugh in the places where it’s really hard to laugh,” she told the AP.

After he exposed the fast food and chicken industries, there was an explosion in restaurants that emphasized freshness, artisanal methods, farm-to-table goodness, and ethically sourced ingredients. But nutritionally it hadn’t changed much.

“There’s been a huge change and people ask me: ‘So food has become healthier?’ And I say, ‘Well, marketing has,’” she said.

Not all of his work was about food. Spurlock made documentaries about the boy band One Direction and the geeks and fans of Comic-Con. One of his films looked at life behind bars at the Henrico County Jail in Virginia.

With 2008 Where in the world is Osama bin Laden? Spurlock launched a global search to find the Al Qaeda leader, who was assassinated in 2011. In POM Wonderful Presents: the best movie ever soldSpurlock addressed issues of product placement, marketing, and advertising.

“I think being aware is half the battle. Literally knowing all the time when you’re being promoted is a great thing,” Spurlock told the AP at the time. “Many people don’t realize it. “The trees cannot see the forest.”

Super Size Me 2: Holy shit! It was set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017, but was shelved at the height of the #MeToo movement when Spurlock came forward to detail his own history of sexual misconduct.

Morgan Spurlock was an avid filmmaker who enjoyed investigating strange and ridiculous subjects.  Photo / AP
Morgan Spurlock was an avid filmmaker who enjoyed investigating strange and ridiculous subjects. Photo / AP

He confessed that he had been accused of rape while in college and that he had settled a sexual harassment case with an assistant. He also admitted to cheating on numerous partners. “I am part of the problem,” he wrote.

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“For me, there was a moment where I realized – as someone who tells the truth and someone who has gone out of my way to try to do the right thing – to recognize that I could do better in my own life. We should be able to admit that we were wrong,” he told the AP.

Spurlock grew up in Beckley, West Virginia. His mother was an English teacher and she remembered that he would correct her work with a red pen. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Film from New York University in 1993.

He is survived by two children: Laken and Kallen, his mother Phyllis Spurlock, his father Ben, his brothers Craig and Barry, and his ex-wives Alexandra Jamieson and Sara Bernstein, the mothers of his children.