Ron and I went to see Fast Food Nation yesterday. We had both absolutely loved the book and I was curious to see how they adapted a non-fiction book into a feature film.
The movie wasn’t what I wanted it to be but it was still pretty good. A talented cast featuring an All-growed-up Wilmer Valderrama who looks much better with some meat on his bones – he could totally be a cross-over cross-cultural action star.
At first I thought the movie was going to be like Traffic, showing the entire economy and impact of a commodity. And it started off like that with the main threads being a marketing exec examining the shit content of the meat supply, a few illegal aliens from Mexico working at the meat factory and a young girl who works at one of the restaurants.
I thought the movie stopped short. Schlosser’s book is a gem because it gleefully muckrakes – and there’s lots of muck to be raked. I wanted to see indictments of not just the meat industry but corporate agriculture, marketing to children, obesity… the whole picture. It isn’t until the end of the movie that we get the money shot of cattle being killed by driving a bolt into their skull and then their innards sent down a chute for the kidneys to be picked out. I wanted this film to nauseate me.
But, the overarching theme of the film seems to be the many ways we turn ourselves into meat to serve an enthrenched food distribution system that affects the entire global economy. That is the real lesson of the book Fast Food Nation, that the requirements of fast food have fundamentally changed the practice of farming, cattle-raising, marketing, merchandising… the whole picture. Fast food is a prism to view the rest of the society. Burgers are interchangeable – made from up to 30 different animals in one frozen pre-fab patty. Food’s flavor must be restored after processing reduces it to a hunk of flavorless fiber. Workers are seen as interchangeable, dumb-down and further integrated as automatons into the machinery. Speed and demand bypasses the need for safety and consideration of the impact of these practices. Cheap oil gave birth to the suburbs and the glorification of the automobile manifests in the drive through window. Baghdad doesn’t have full electricity, but the soldiers in the green zone can choose from Taco Bell or Subway.
I wonder how easy it is to get meat that is not part of this corporate farm system. If I go to the Paulina Meat Market, is that better in the long run?
Saw Scott at Stella’s yesterday.
I go home tomorrow. Brigitte and I are driving down. We haven’t made the trip home together in a long time and usually our road trips include singing the greatest hits of Aerosmith, Pat Benatar or any of several Broadway cast recordings (we do a fantastic rendition of "I Should Tell You" from Rent).
Got stuck last night looking at mini-PCs. They are so cool. We’d seen a Slimline desktop (HP?) at Best Buy. I also started looking at wireless LCD receivers – where I could have the desktop out of sight and simply have a screen and keyboard and that’s it. As we entered Best Buy there was another line of people – this time in line for the Nintendo Wii (this was on Saturday night – the line for the PS3 was on Thursday night). Ron and I had talked about waiting for PS3’s and then reselling them on eBay but we knew that we didn’t have the patience to tough it out in the cold for 16 hours – and what if you have to use the bathroom?
I’ve been finalizing the seminar roll-out schedule for the first quarter of 2007. I have a master timeline that then reiterates for each class. I like planning. I like the overall picture. I’m not so hot on execution but that is why 2007 is about implementation. I keep chanting ‘200K/2K7’ (grossing $200,000 in 2007).
I should get to the gym. But the kitty is next to me already taking nap which only encourages me to lay back down.