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Analysis of Persuasive Techniques in the Film Supersize Me

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In the documentary film Supersize Me, Morgan Spurlock emphasizes on the effects that fast food can have on your body and the issues that it can bring. While watching the documentary film, there were many elements that stood out that were related to Burke’s views on rhetoric. Morgan seemed to identify with the audience, in a way of wanting them to come together as one, with seeing the harm that all the fast food can have on our bodies, and showing that we can all face it together. Supersize Me used identification, symbolism, terministic screens, and much more to show the viewers all the issues that fast food brings.

In the documentary, Morgan Spurlock was the narrator and his purpose was to prove to others all the detrimental effects of fast food on our bodies, but also the problem of obesity in America. In the 100-minute long documentary, Spurlock commits to only eating Mcdonalds’ for 30 consecutive days, and promising to eat everything on the menu at least once. He also sets up a few rules for himself that will help him with the project. The rules consisted of: having to purchase everything he consumed through Mcdonalds, having to supersize his meal every time he was asked, and not participating in any type of exercise.

Throughout watching the documentary, I realized that Spurlock wasn’t trying just to entertain the audience, but also leave an impressive effect on the viewers about how fast food causes harm to our bodies. I believe he did so by showing the way his body transformed throughout the process of his project. At the beginning, Morgan was a healthy guy. But by the end of the project, he had gained about 25 pounds, was depressed, his cholesterol had extremely risen, etc. I felt that being able to document this experience from beginning to end played a huge role in the function of the rhetoric because it was supporting what Mark was trying to show the viewers, and giving them actual evidence. For example, showing how over the course of 30 days, his body had drastically changed, and providing all the evidence needed from what he ate, to what he did from day to day, proved the viewers that what was going on was actually real, and was showing many of the fast food customers that they were actually being persuaded into having poor nutrition by the fast food industry.

Spurlock’s tone throughout the documentary is somewhat sarcastic but very easy to capture the audience’s attention. You could tell that the effect that fast food has on our bodies was very important to him, and he needed to make sure he spread enough awareness about it to make the viewer’s realize that we needed to do something about this. His word choice also helped keep the viewer’s attention because it kept them entertained and made the viewer’s feel relatable to the subject.

Much of what is shown throughout the documentary plays a role rhetorically because it leaves an impact on the audience. I feel as if the part that left most of the impact on the audience was towards the end of the 30 days when Morgan decided to film and show actual examples of the amount of fat he had gained or sugar he had consumed, and when the amount is so immense, of course it is going to really impact the viewer’s and make them realize how horrible fast food really is for us and how something in our society needs to be done about fast food.

Something that was also used a lot during the documentary were logos, and pathos. Ethos were used too, but I feel as if Logos and Pathos had more of an effect on the audience. Logos is a way of persuading the audience by reason. For example, persuading with statistics and facts. Throughout the documentary, Morgan used a number of statistics and facts to persuade and show proof to the audience of the issue that Fast food brings to America. For example, it was stated that America was known to be the fattest nation in the world, with the most number of obese people, and over 60% of them being adults. It also had statistics on how at least 40% of American’s meals are out, meaning it could be fast food and not home cooked. Logos has more of an effect on the audience, I believe, because you are showing proof of what is going on, and that’s exactly what Spurlock was doing.

In regards to Pathos, pathos is a way of persuading someone with appeal to emotions. Throughout this documentary, I feel as if Pathos was used quite often because in reality, if you have ever watched Supersize Me, you tend to be grossed out. I remember the first time I watched this documentary, I ran home telling my parents I was becoming vegetarian. Spurlock knows how to connect with the audience through emotions throughout the documentary in a way that keeps the viewer’s wanting more in the sense of keeping them more informed and teaching them what really is going on in these fast food places.

Throughout the documentary, there were other ways of catching the viewer’s attention rhetorically. Some of them being by having kids and adults that were obese all over America talk about how it has affected them, and what they like to eat, and what they do for a living, etc. I would consider this a terministic screen. Many people only see one view of this, but there is also another perspective to it.

All in all, it was stated that if nothing was done to fix the problem with obesity in America, it might have become the number one leading cause of death in America. I feel as this really touched Spurlock, so he felt as if this documentary was a good way to persuade viewers in changing something within our society, and have it under control in the ways you could control it. For example, not eating it as much, or not buying it for your children, or simply not supporting it are ways that could contribute to it. It took Spurlock almost 15 months to lose the 25 pounds he had gained throughout the 30 days, and I feel as that showed the audience what a toll it can take on your life. By using many rhetoric terms, including terministic screens, identification, logos, pathos, symbolism, etc., Spurlock created a great documentary that persuaded and informed viewer’s on a change that needed to be made in our society to end Obesity in America. Supersize me changes people, it changes their view, it changes the way they think and feel about fast food and the growing issue of Obesity, and it gives them more of a reason to want to stop it.

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