by Marion Nestle
May 27 2024

Rest in peace, Morgan Spurlock

This is Memorial Day, and it seems appropriate to use this time and space to mourn the death of filmmaker Morgan Spurlock last week.  He was only 53.

I had brief appearances as a talking head in Super Size Me! (2004) and also Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! (2017)—although so briefly that I did not get mentioned in the credits.

Super Size Me

Super Size Me! was the first time I was interviewed for a major documentary and I wish I could remember more about its filming, which took place a year or so before the film’s release.  By the time it came out, I had forgotten about it, but was invited to the premier—a thrilling experience.

The film was fun—enormously entertaining as well as educational.  Morgan was a great storyteller, and one with a mission to improve the American diet.  The first film focused on overeating fast food.  The second focused more on food system issues; it too is well worth seeing.

In 2019, I wrote a blog post about the second film which, when released, was accompanied by a pop-up restaurant: “From my food politics point of view, the film is a must-see.  It is a compelling, beautifully photographed, disturbing, cynical, utterly devastating account of industrial chicken production.”

Spurlock was a great filmmaker, and I view the end of his life as a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.   He took a highly ethical position and wrote a confession about his poor behavior toward women.  This destroyed his career and the film disappeared.

I hoped he would recover from that and did not know of his illness.  His loss saddens me enormously. I hope his memory will be a blessing.

Addition, May 28: I’m quoted in an assessment of Spurlock’s work in the Times of London.