In an open letter to directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, pediatrican Rahul K. Parikh implores them to take the lead in severing movie tie-ins with the fast food industry for the sake of reducing childhood obesity. Dr. Parikh makes a reasonable (and standard) argument that fast food advertising has more influence than parents in determining children’s food choices, thereby contributing to a rise in obesity rates among youth and putting them at risk of heart disease, diabetes, and shortened life spans. Movie tie-ins contribute to this problem by glamorizing greasy burgers loaded with cheese and bacon (mmmmm, bacon) through associations with popular characters like Shrek and, in a ridiculous example cited by Dr. Parikh, Indiana Jones via “the Indy Whopper, a mammoth, juicy burger with pepper jack cheese and jalapeño sauce (to give it “adventure,” the CMO pointed out).”
I am pretty skeptical regarding the Fear of Fatness taking over our political discourse, but Parikh’s argument wins with me. How can you argue that fast food has any nutritional benefits? Its ubiquity — particularly in the neighborhoods of poor and lower middle class families — makes fast food a reliable source of food that is awful for you (not to mention a means of employment that is soul-destroying, IMHO.)
Here is where Dr. Parikh goes wrong. Here he suggests to Spielberg and Lucas ways to counter the fast food propaganda:
If not [severing movie tie-ins], then perhaps a little truth in advertising, or in cinema, is in order. You should show us how your characters would look if they ate the food that you helped peddle. In that vein, you got Jabba the Hutt right. But Princess Leia in her skimpy steel bikini with cellulite? Indiana Jones having to hit the brakes during a car chase and find a glass of water so he can take his Lipitor? Now that I think about it, wouldn’t Viagra have been the best tie-in for the new movie?
He intends to inject a “little humor” into his plea, but the good doctor does so at the expense of the fat people he wants to help. Jabba the Hutt — really? Fat-shaming — and please note the sexism underlying the Princess Leia reference — should not be a part of his practice.