Morgan Spulock is a hands-on filmmaker, often inserting himself into his films not just as the commentator, but as the subject. In SUPER SIZE ME, he lived for a month only on items available on the McDonald’s menu, the health effects of which he documented with a pithy attention to detail. In POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD, he discovers the peculiar world of product placement in popular media by attempting to procure same to finance the film he’s making on the subject. The meta-reality of the approach is piquant and thought-provoking, and so is the way Spurlock talks about it. When we spoke on April 8, 2011. I stared by asking about the still lingering effects of his McDonald’s adventure before moving on to the history of product placement that pre-dates movies, Ralph Nader’s sense of humor, and why it was necessary to use a stunt double for his son when the time came to take a bath with a Shetland pony.
The documentary examines the phenomenon of product placement in popular media by following Spurlock’s efforts to secure corporate sponsorship of the very documentary he’s making about that subject. Taking a plunge that can be spun as either selling out or buying in, Spurlock, with the help of Noam Chomskey and Ralph Nader for context, discovers first-hand the people who broker what product appears in which movie, takes a test to discover what his branding personality is, and comes face to face with his own amygdala, and in the process reveals as much about the psychology of buying as he does that of selling. He also discovers the eerie paradise of Sao Paolo, a major and cosmopolitan city that has taken the bold step of banning all forms of outdoor advertising in favor of allowing the city itself to take center stage.
Spurlock burst upon the national scene with his award-winning documentary, SUPER SIZE ME, in which he lived for a month on the McDonald’s menu to the consternation and horror of friends and health care professionals. As such, he is, arguably, the man single-handedly responsible for patrons of that franchise now being able to buy apple sticks as well as French fries. He has gone on to ask WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN, produce the infinitely fascinating television series, 30 DAYS, in which people discover what it’s like to be someone else for the eponymous length of time, and to produce theatrical documentaries, including WHAT WOULD JESUS BUY, in which performance artist Rev Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping Now confronts a consumer-based society armed only with a pompadour and the startling message that we don’t need so much stuff.