This Friday, November 17, Eric Schlosser's best-seller, "Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal," hits the big screen. Directed by Richard Linklater of "A Scanner Darkly," fame, the film takes audiences on a tour of the real ingredients in American fast food, and none of them are beef.
Unlike Morgan Spurlock's "Super Size Me," "Fast Food Nation" is not a documentary, it's a drama. "Fast Food Nation" wasn't designed to make consumers feel good about indulging in the occasional Big Mac. On the contrary — critics claim this film has the potential to change the fast food industry as we know it. I’m not ashamed to admit that as soon as the "Super Size Me" credits rolled, I ran to the nearest McDonalds to load up on artery-clogging (but otherwise totally harmless) burgers and fries. But "Fast Food Nation" portrays problems that are much bigger than the Hummers McDonalds passes out in happy meals.
Like the book, "Fast Food Nation" focuses on the human elements of America's quest for immediate gratification and transfat. Thanks to Schlosser’s book, transfat is now a four-letter word and is being eliminated from almost all restaurants and food products. Now, many say the movie's social commentary has the potential to quell the exploitation of illegal workers who fuel the fast food industry. Their struggles are portrayed by a young immigrant couple who come to America in classic Upton Sinclair "The Jungle" fashion — full of hopes and dreams that crumble when the couple meets with horrific working conditions in a meat-packing plant.
What do you think? Are we, as Americans, comfortably resigned that fast food restaurants are trying to kill us as well as the American dream? Or must we stand up for our rights to guilt-free fast food? If Fast Food Nation changes people's minds about the industry, what will happen next?