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Dark, Dreary Nation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Monday, 30 October 2006
AFF Sentinel Vol.3 #29

I recently saw an advance screening of the movie Fast Food Nation and live comments from Eric Schlosser, book author and co-writer of the movie.

Despite the title, the film centers around the lives of illegal immigrants. Further depressing the mood is that no one else in America is portrayed as much better off than the illegals. Small town America is just one fast food and casual dining place after another; teenagers are forced into awful, poor paying jobs in fast food restaurants; suburban sprawl and toll roads are forcing minivan-driving ranchers off the land; white males in positions of authority at all levels of business are forcing women into sexual submission; small town America is so boring the "with it" kids leave; college student activists must resort to protests and civil disobedience to bring sanity to the world and greedy corporate America exploits workers, animals and customers, turning them into machines on assembly lines. In other words, everyone is just a piece of meat and there is no hope - unless enlightened citizens take radical action.

The movie is not a documentary, Schlosser admits. The movie's false impressions would disqualify it by definition. Even he describes it as a "dark movie." But is not entertaining either, unless you are a counter-culture, anti-mainstream activist looking for a supposed cause. It is exaggerated Hollywood fiction. The packing plant scenes weren't even filmed in the U.S, Schlosser admitted.

The film has too many plotlines with little character development. It follows a group of illegal immigrants from Mexico to a packing plant in Colorado. It follows a fast food headquarters executive who travels to Colorado to the supplier of its hamburger patties. Tracking allegations of sanitation problems at the plant, he hears the oft- repeated code line of the movie, "There is [manure] in the meat!" It also follows teenage workers at the same fast food chain, particularly a high school girl who gets involved with college activists who feel they have to "do something" about fast food chains, packers and feedyards.

The movie uses the fast food industry as an example of how American corporations and assembly line production efficiencies are bad for workers, benefit only greedy businessmen like packers and fast food corporations and turn out bad product - here, bad food and contaminated hamburgers. In the end, everyone is subjugated to "The Machine."

The movie implies that the packing industry couldn't operate without illegal immigrants on the line. In the film, workers' illegal status allows packers to exploit them at every turn. One would think it was Upton Sinclair's day all over again - no OSHA, no government regulation, no USDA inspection, no FDA, no unions, no other jobs in America - and no attorneys. The basic message: packers run production lines too fast, resulting in hurt workers and contaminated meat.

The slaughter floor scenes are held until the end of the movie, making it one of the final impressions the moviegoer takes away. While they are not startling to those who have seen a slaughter floor or to many who have raised production animals and seen them doctored or die, to the general public they will be a graphic shock. People are accustomed to movies or television about human beings torn up in car wrecks, blasted to pieces by bombs and automatic weapons, exterminated in concentration camps, autopsied and operated on by surgeons. But they are not used to animals subjected to anything.

With little entertainment value, how did this movie get made? It is a Participant Productions film, a company with the mission to "make the world a better place." They were behind Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. We will reveal more about this company in another column.

Schlosser said the movie will open on "several hundred" screens on Nov. 17. I wonder if theater owners will risk many screen showings on a dull movie whose word of mouth among women will be bad. I could be wrong. Luckily, language, nudity and graphic violence earn it an "R" rating.

We can only hope such misleading propaganda will get little exposure.

Next Time: Do You Want Lies With That? Schlosser Evidently Does.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 30 October 2006 )
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