I was so annoyed when I blogged about Killer At Large last night that I forgot to mention one of my main irritations during the film. That was probably as it should be, because I needed to do a little research to confirm my suspicions, and now I have.
About half way through the film, we witness Governor Schwarze-muscle announcing one of the first bans on junk foods in schools – “This will be the toughest school nutrition reformation in the nation,” he proclaims. “We are going to terminate obesity in California once and for all.”
Then comes a scene which one reviewer describes as “Perhaps the most outrageous scene in Killer at Large…. The setting is the perimeter of an enclosed yard; it’s around noon. A whole gaggle of kids, between eight and ten years old, are pressed up against a chain link fence, grasping through the links to procure some meager sustenance from altruistic aid workers who are unloading supplies of food from stacks of boxes. There’s a certain mad desperation to it all, like we are watching bare survival at its most primal and basic.”
“Is this some sort of refugee camp in a war torn Third World country?” he asks. “Some horrible prison for children in some benighted corner of the globe, far from America? In fact no, it’s an elementary school in California, and the adults handing food to the children are concerned parents. But the “who” involved is not the real shocking part – it’s what they are passing to them: piles and piles of junk food – cookies, candy, soda, etc.”
Well, the “who” here does matter, I think. Because this particular scene is NOT from Hollywood High, as we are led to believe by the narrator. Here are a few shots from the actual movie (compiled with the aid of the snipping tool, my favourite new Windows 7 gagdet):
If, like me, you have been keeping up with the doings of a certain Mr. Oliver over the years, you’ll very quickly recognise this exact scene as that of the infamous “sinner ladies” who were demonised for selling “junk” to school children after they refused to eat the “healthy” meals that Mr. O helped to put in their canteens. It was The Sun that published the infamous picture in the UK in 2006, which unfortunately I cannot reprint here without permission (!!), but you can click here to see it for yourself.
This one is from The Daily Mail:
The other reason that this was so easy to identify (and therefore seriously sloppy plagiarism) is because Julie Critchlow, the short-haired blond woman, went on to become a bit famous for getting an apology from Mr. O for badmouthing her, and for becoming one of the main players in his Ministry of Food series. Here they are in the first episode sharing a spot of curry in her living room:
Jamie’s Ministry of Food was also, incidentally, the “inspiration” for his upcoming Food Revolution USA, which is basically him taking his Rotherham show on the American road. Well, actually on the West Virginian road, to Huntington, the “unhealthiest city in America” (all of which surely also helped to getting Mr. O this year’s TED prize). Watch the splendiferous preview here.
I digress. This is not about Mr. O (for once). This is about the sensational twaddle that is Killer at Large. Could I be overreacting? If we’re having a conversation about whether obesity really is a killer, and at large, then perhaps. There are some truths to those claims, and a small forged scene doesn’t detract from the facts.
But we have to seriously question ALL of the “facts” when it turns out that even one of them is manufactured. Yes, that scene did take place, but in a different time and place (on a different continent!), and it is dishonest and shameful to present it as otherwise. Also, you can’t help wondering why bother? If obesity really is the killer at large that the filmmaker sets out to “document”, then why the need to falsify evidence at all?
Misrepresentation and intellectual dishonesty (or just laziness) are the killers at large. How are we supposed to get anywhere with this sort of rubbish making the rounds?