You Want Flies With That?


New York Times film critic A.O. Scott calls Fast Food Nation "a movie as necessary and nourishing as your next meal." Health Facts and Fears Editor (and Reason contributor) Todd Seavey, by contrast, seems to consider it as dull and dispensable as your next rice cake:

The main charges against the food industry, if the film were to be taken very literally, seem to be that (1) there is fecal matter in hamburger (though little enough, it is implied, to be rendered harmless through cooking, a reasonable enough admission from what is meant to be a radical film…), (2) illegal immigrants do much of the hard manual labor involved in meat processing, (3) some of them get sexually harassed, and (4) fast food restaurants are boring and homogeneous anyway, like much of our clueless civilization….

Now, I know [director Richard] Linklater and [book author/screenwriter Eric] Schlosser have more sweeping objections to modern food production and industrial civilization, but the film almost seems to imply that if we just slowed down the cow-disassembly line of one particularly bad plant (and we do see the gory details, by the way) enough to ensure that we kept the feces out of the meat, everything would pretty much be OK, aside from the immigration, sex, and boredom issues, which aren't exactly problems exclusive to the food industry. But aesthetically, we're still left with the vague impression that things are too deeply awry for such an easy fix.

At a Hunter College screening of Fast Food Nation, Seavey not only sat through the icky slaughterhouse scenes but endured a panel discussion afterward. The least you can do is read his reaction.