Thirty-four percent of Americans say their favorite activity is shopping. We have more than twice as many shopping centers as high schools. Americans remain the waste champions, producing 51 percent more waste than any other industrial nation in the world. Consumerism has invaded and in many cases even usurped our private and public lives. It defines us first and foremost as customers and then locates ultimate meaning in the material things we are able to accumulate and show off to others. Appearance, affluence, and achievement are the Holy Trinity of consumerism. All those who worship in this religion become victims of addiction and prisoners of envy. Parents ought to be concerned about the increasing impact of advertising campaigns designed to brainwash young children to make them devoted consumers from cradle to grave.
All of these thoughts about consumerism came to mind after we watched POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a zany and thought-provoking documentary directed by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me). It humorously explores the widespread marketing practice of product placement in filmmaking. Dazzled by the big money taken in by both blockbuster and franchise films, Spurlock decides to see if he can create "a doc-buster" by selling sponsorship of this film to any brand that wants to reach the audience for The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.
We follow him behind closed doors and watch as he pitches his project, talks with lawyers and p.r. wheeler dealers, picks up tips from seasoned filmmakers, and listens to Ralph Nader's suggestion that sleep is the only way to escape the omnipresence of advertising. Spurlock visits San Paulo, Brazil, a metropolis that has banned all outdoor advertising and he marvels at the way it changes our perception of what we see. But such a prospect is out of the question in America where consumerism reigns supreme.
Spurlock leaps for joy when Ban Deodorant decides to give him $50,000 for having their product promoted in the documentary. The biggest sponsor turns out to be POM Wonderful who are excited about getting their brand name out there in a big way. In fact, Spurlock successfully raises the film's $1.5 million budget. He has written the following about his perspective:
"The movie documents both the absurdity and pervasiveness of product placement in our daily lives and I saw my role on this film as both a filmmaker and an anthropologist. . . . After people watch this film, I hope they will start to look at everything a little differently, especially the way they are marketed and advertised to every single day of their lives."
Special features on the DVD include deleted scenes and commercials; "Workin' Nine to Five (AM)": POM Behind-the-Scenes; a commentary with director Morgan Spurlock, producer Jeremy Chilnick, cinematographer Daniel Marracino, and editor Thomas M. Vogt.