Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Heroes of the bleeding obvious

A couple of years ago, American film director Morgan Spurlock earned himself fame with the controversial Supersize Me, an experiment on the side effects of a month-long McDonalds-based diet. Now he's back on Channel Four with 30 Days, a -never did the definition sound more appropriate- reality TV programme. The first episode featured Spurlock and his girlfriend taking the plunge to live on the minimum wage in Columbus, Ohio. It's £2.91 in the US, and we thought it was crap here! Needless to say that the following morning reviewers cut him apart. This country's journos, consummate chanters of the working class, spent inches and inches of columns lambasting Spurlock accusing him of 'narcisism', 'stating the bleeding obvious', and showing sympathy for the poor purely in his quest 'to advance the Spurlock Inc.', etc... That's in spite of Spurlock emphasising quite clearly that what they experienced for a mere month, some people have to endure for a lifetime.

The facts are simple. If Spurlock didn't do it, I don't quite see any other TV or press do-gooder going out of their way to illustrate the point (the point being that the US society cannot go on forever at its ruthless, astonishing level of inequality). They'd sooner jump at the opps of writing about glitzy parties, hollywood, desperate housewives and other pap. Yes, bleeding obvious it may be, but how often do you hear or read about the flipside of America? In which case, fair play to Morgan Spurlock and his laydee for actually showing in all its squalor what life is really like for the tens of millions of American we never hear about. An invisible underclass, ghosts who work their backside out and still live in deprivation, unable to afford primary goods such as healthcare. And above all, they're helpless when it comes down to escaping the perpetual cycle of debts, poor diet, ill-health, long hours, lowpay, blacklisting, and refrain.

But I suspect it's easier that way. Slag off Spurlock the "narcissus", stop one step short of saying that it's all his fault, and the prickly issues are soon glossed over.

1 comment:

wen said...

Check out Nickel and Dimed; it's a really good book on the same subject by a woman (writer) who went "undercover" for a year, working at diners, Wal Mart etc. to figure out how our working poor survive.