As the rising epidemic of obesity has attracted considerable media attention, so has the promotion for maintaining healthy wellbeing. Tom Naughton’s documentary, Fat Head, is a stellar model of this media attention. It examines the exact cause of weight gain, and the reliability of the Government’s nutritional guidelines. The contention of Fat Head is that the U.S Government and Morgan Spurlock (the creator of Super Size Me) present misleading information. However, Naughton’s bias becomes apparent through the careful selection of film techniques, and the silencing of certain characters, who may express opposing viewpoints. The ideal audience of this documentary, parents and concerned parties such as medical professionals, are invited to agree that the U.S Government and Spurlock are deceptive.
The negative representation of Spurlock is revealed in many instances in Fat Head. Firstly, Naughton mirrors Spurlock’s 30-day fast food binge, which he uses as a means of demonstrating the faults in Super Size Me. Another error the director analyses is Spurlock’s daily consumption of more than 5000 calories. By displaying the calculations on the side on screen as Naughton’s criticises the errors, the director accentuates the fact that none of the meal combinations that Spurlock could consume contain 5000 calories. He also manages to construct Spurlock as sinful, dishonest person, which is symbolised by the red background. While Naughton explains his calculations, the lyric ‘Something here doesn’t seem to add up’ is played in the background. This song works together perfectly with Naughton’s commentary of Spurlock’s errors, since it further emphasises the director’s biased argument, that is, Spurlock is a prevaricator. This ensemble of visual and auditory cinematic techniques conveys the shocking reality of Super Size Me to the audience, and, at the same time, creates a negative mood.
The refuting of Spurlock’s criticism of McDonald’s is also shown in the scene, where Naughton requests for Spurlock’s food log. In this segment, where there is on screen text accounting the number of hanged up calls, the audience is positioned to believe that Naughton has been refused repetitively by the representatives of Super Size Me. From this, viewers are given the impression that Spurlock is a liar, as Spurlock is unwilling to provide Naughton the food log. While Spurlock is mentioned, but he himself is not given the opportunity to put forward his point of view. Nowhere in this scene do viewers hear Spurlock’s refusal, or the actual conversation between the agents of Super Size Me and Naughton. It is clear from this scene that Fat Head is one sided.
Another instance in Fat Head that effectively portrays Spurlock negatively is through the director’s body language while criticising Super Size Me. Much of the time, Naughton has his hands on his hips with his eyebrows synclined. This gesture connotes anger. Viewers perceive through Naughton’s aggression that the...