Leff, E. C. (2020). "Aladdin’s Cave of Processed Crap": Food & Health Discourses in the Early 21st Century. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.2163
The emergence of the ‘obesity epidemic’ as an urgent public health issue in the early 21st century has given rise to a plethora of diet-centric literature and popular media. Countless filmmakers, researchers, public intellectuals, and food experts have explored the link between ‘obesity’ and consumption practices, attempting to enlighten audiences with explanations of how American diets have caused this ‘obesity’ crisis. The narrative that America has culturally regressed due to the presence of corporations, specifically the creators of processed food products and fast-food restaurants, and is in a desperate state of ignorance and confusion over what is acceptable to eat has been appropriated to enforce a moralistic framework of consumption. This thesis maps discourse across three popular food &health-centered media objects released between 2004 and 2015: “Super Size Me”, “Food Revolution”, and “In Defense of Food.” Across these films and television programs, I argue that the perception of these media objects as humanistic and anti-capitalist is undermined by their reliance on and utilization of disenfranchising modes of power that pathologize the same populations that they are purportedly intending to save.