Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I watched Maxed Out this morning, a documentary about America's lust for credit. And before the film was even over I was on the phone with my credit card company, asking if they could lower my APR so I could pay off my balance sometime this life. Right after they lowered my rate - all I did was ask - I logged onto another credit card account and paid off my balance in full.

There's something to be said for a documentary that changes your life.

In my third period I've spent the semester talking about diet and exercise as a theme they can write about. I decided it would be better to stay on one subject that the kids need to know about rather than introducing new topics every week. So yesterday and today they watched Supersize Me and next week we start reading Fast Food Nation.

Supersize Me is another documentary that changed my life. I stopped eating fast food the day I saw that film and I've eaten very little fast food since. There was a time when I went to Taco Bell once a week, but now I occasionally visit El Pollo Loco when I forget my lunch and I don't remember the last time I ate at McDonald's.

So I'm hoping that the lessons I learned from Maxed Out stick with me.

That's a hell of a thing, don't you think? The power a film has - just a simple story about the facts and their impact on everyday Americans - to completely change your life. Somebody put up some money and did some research and carried around a camera, and my life changes for the better.

I'm not planning on making a documentary any time soon, but I'm impressed with how much of an impact a simple story can have on my life.


  1. Anonymous7:33 PM

    Maxed out is a good doc, check out

    They have a 30 minute version you can watch on the site. It's along the same lines. It talks about the countries debt. Also, if you haven't seen the Smartest Guy In The Room you have too. That's one of my favorites.

  2. You consider one run a week to Taco Bell excessive fast food? I guess I was in really bad shape before seeing Supersize Me. I was sneaking off to McDonalds several times a week. Not to mention Taco Bell and KFC.

    I saw the film about three or four years ago. I've eaten fast food less then ten times a year since.

    Documentaries can be amazing.

    By the way, Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. I saw Maxed Out and Super Size Me and enjoyed both. I was already on a debt management program before I saw Maxed Out and I tried to avoid McDonald's at almost all costs even before I saw Super Size Me so I can't say these movies changed my behavior. They just reinforced it. However, after seeing the movie about Walmart, I try not to shop there, but I still wind up there once in a while, but I go there a lot less than before. I worked on a documentary film a few years back for a guy who had won two Academy Awards and it was a very rewarding experience. As an educator and a film person, I think you would really like working on a documentary film, since it's a combination of both of those worlds.

    Steven Lee


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