Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock is not afraid to get messy. When tackling an issue on film, he gets right down in the trenches, often compromising his own health and well-being to unveil systemic problems in America with microscopic scrutiny. He did it most notably with Super Size Me, a documentary in which he examined the problem of obesity by eating at McDonald’s for every meal for 30 days. His declining health and subsequent depression was enough to send longtime McDonald’s patrons running to the nearest farmers market.
Since then, Spurlock’s projects have had the same premise of immersion journalism. His now-canceled Fox television show, 30 Days, placed participants in “what if” situations that seemed to come out of Spurlock’s own musings: What if a self-proclaimed “homophobe” was forced to live with a gay man in San Francisco? What if you lived in a prison for 30 days? What if an avid hunter lived with a vegan animal-rights activist? The scenarios made for some real human drama as well as honest civil discourse among folks on two sides of an issue.
Spurlock spoke with Sojourners editors Jim Wallis and Jeannie Choi about his newest project, The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special in 3-D on Ice, and explains that though his projects be madness, there is method to them.
Jim Wallis: You take filmmaking and turn it into social commentary—you did that most notably with Super Size Me. Where did the idea for that project come from?
Morgan Spurlock: I felt there was a real conversation to be had with what was happening in our country. Obesity had become such a big problem at that point, no pun intended.