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  • ferguson-65 September 2019
    Greetings again from the darkness. What we expect in a documentary is a presentation of the topic in a manner slightly slanted towards the filmmaker's beliefs. What we hope for in a documentary is to learn something new or to be exposed to a different way of looking at a subject. We don't typically expect a great many laughs or even a film with significant entertainment value. For those who recall Morgan Spurlock's 2004 Oscar nominated SUPER SIZE ME, you likely won't be surprised that his latest is heavy on humor and entertainment, and a bit light on education. Still, his formula works - and we allow ourselves to be dragged along.

    Spurlock kicks the film off by announcing that he wants to open his own fast food restaurant. He proceeds to confer with some celebrity chefs, a marketing firm, and a business strategist. Capitalizing on his success as a documentary filmmaker is a key element to the strategy, and of course, his mission is to once again expose the fast food industry for perpetuating myths of healthier fast food options.

    He legitimately asks, "Have things gotten better?" We are meant to interpret this as ... have things gotten better since 2004 when Spurlock documented his self-imposed all-McDonalds food every meal for an entire month. It's at this point where the research kicks in. Facts and statistics are discussed. We learn that 44% of us eat fast food regularly, and that chicken overtook beef a couple of years ago as the protein of choice. We first assume this must be due to consumers making the "healthier" choice, but then we are informed that fried chicken outsells grilled chicken - and the gap is widening.

    The most interesting segment of the movie occurs as the buzzwords and their meanings are discussed. Having "nutrition" broken down from a marketing perspective truly exposes the outright fraud being perpetrated on the public. "Health Halo" is the moniker applied to descriptions like "fresh", "all-natural", and "no added hormones". Even "crispy" is used in place of the more accurate "fried", which is obviously a word no consumer would associate with healthy food. Spurlock is in his element when providing a startling visual for what qualifies as "free range" according to the FDA.

    'Big Chicken' is compared to 'Big Oil', as 5 corporations control 99% of the chicken farming industry: Tyson, Perdue, Pilgrims, Koch Foods, and Sanderson Farms. We get an explanation of how these corporations apply enormous pressure on the farmers, keeping them in a constant state of debt - or worse for farmer Jonathan Buttram who has been blackballed for helping Spurlock make this movie. Spurlock bounces from Columbus, Ohio to Boulder, Colorado to Tennessee to Kentucky to Washington, D.C, to Alabama; and from Chick-Fil-A to Wendy's to 7-11 to Popeye's, and even to McDonalds - Spurlock's first visit in 12 years to the establishment that put him on the movie map.

    Very little new information is provided here, but Spurlock does what he does best - entertain with examples of extremes. While his "fried grilled" chicken sandwich is a publicity stunt, the real story is how menus and labels are used to manipulate the consumer, many who don't seem to much care.
  • Excellent film. Eye opening. Funny, accurate, controversial. Spurlock scores another urgent and necessary expos√© on the eating culture in America. One might as well become vegetarian- you won't ever look at poultry the same way again.
  • Morgan does a great job to showcase the different actors in the value chain of the chicken industry. The chicken are treated unnaturally to make them grow fast, the farmers are treated poorly so that they are in debt, the big chicken companies using clever marketing tricks to provide a false perception of the chicken product.

    so now what? well, i think the consumers has the power by being active in promoting transparency and fair treatments of the people and animals in this value chain
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Many things in this mockumentary are told in a manner that helps you take in some information that's not only hard to watch, but sad to watch not only for the chickens but for the farmers. The heart of the film is hidden within the chicken farmers who god for bid wish they'd have chosen another line of work. The "BIG CHICKEN" corporations are only 5 in the US... not sure about overseas but they control how healthy your chickens are from the hatcheries. You cannot just own your own hatchery and go into farming. Spurlock raises bigger questions about the industry as a whole rather than focusing on just the fast food industry but they are all linked and related in many ways. Tyson chicken in particular seems like a very evil and spiteful company and I'm glad I quit buying Tyson chicken, at least directly years ago. They deserve to go out of business but that's never going to happen. The big 5 corporations can manipulate the farmers into debt and they have no choice but to keep going even if they aren't making money, which just blows my mind. This is basically creating slave labor for the farmers and worse yet, they aren't even making a living off it. How they even stay afloat makes no sense to me. If a guy is 4 million in debt how can he even keep the lights on? The awareness this film bring to the table is that marketing is all bullcrap and the food is the same as it ever was at least among the big 3 in Mcd, Burger King and Wendy's. They will remain the same as long as the profit margins are good. I wish Spurlock hadn't admitted he was part of the #Metoo movement because this film would have been released at a more relevant time and he wouldn't have lost his company. No woman came forward or anything but he freely admitted he wished he hadn't done something back in college but I have no idea "exactly" what he did but in this business, never admit anything unless you have to because you will have everything taken away from you just from an accusation let alone a conviction of any kind. He stated he wanted to be transparent and he paid for it in the worst possible way even though he didn't even have to say anything about it. I'm betting making this film gave him insight about honesty only for it to have bitten him in the ass. He went from a full staff to 3. He may or may not ever make a film again and that's a shame because he makes documentaries fun and exciting even if the subject matter hit home. People have no idea that all the chickens they eat are born and killed within 6 weeks based on how they were bred.... hormones have nothing to do with it. They do however seem to have health defects especially in the heart muscles. They grow so fast that if humans grew that fast a baby would be 600 pounds. They had a normal chicken in the group just to see his size vs the fast growing chickens and it was a good 40% smaller at the time where they were to be killed. We are basically eating GMO chickens without eating GMO chickens. They are already genetically modified to the point that they don't need to be modified anymore. Now if you can find a REAL chicken farmer from real locally raised livestock, then that's even better but where did they start out? Did they happen to buy 1 group of modified chickens or did they legit start out with normal chickens that don't grow at a fast rate? Will we eve know?