Throughout the chapter “Do You Want Lies with That?” from his book, Do Not Eat this Book, Morgan Spurlock employs literary appeals to persuade his readers that consumerism has managed to worm its way into the food industry, causing its marketing techniques to become increasingly similar to that of the retail, auto, tobacco, and prescription drug industries. He applies literary methods such as logos with the use of statistics, ethos through his allusion to qualified experts, as well as pathos by appealing to his readers’ desires and insecurities. The author sets his sights on the average American consumer as his intended audience, with his purpose being to motivate readers to think twice before investing in another new product.
Spurlock opens the chapter by immediately drawing in his readers with a metaphor, comparing the pages of his book to the likeness of a prosciutto and swiss sandwich. He goes on to discuss that due to the ability to “turn just about anything” into a food-related product, marketers are now expected to put warning labels for their clienteles’ safety as well as their own, because adding these labels helps prevent them from getting sued. The writer then veers the topic of discussion towards the tobacco industry. He points out that big tobacco companies did everything in their power to get their customers addicted to their products at as young of an age as possible, even adding harmful chemicals, until they got caught.
Once the surgeon general released a warning correlating smoking and cancer, however, restrictions in production, sponsorship, and advertising related to tobacco were put into place. Throughout it all, tobacco companies still vehemently lied through their teeth about the dangers of smoking, which eventually led to lawsuits. The lawsuits brought to light the scary reality of just how detrimental to your health cigarettes actually were. Finally, a colossal settlement was reached, without tobacco industries having to confess to any misconduct, considering it should be common knowledge that smoking is bad, and it is the consumer’s responsibility to be aware of that.
Morgan Spurlock starts to transition the subject towards the auto industry, and the insane amount of money they have spent on advertising, providing other statistics, “there are now, for the first time in history, more cars than drivers in America” all the while poking fun at the ridiculousness of it all. He briefly mentions the retail industry, disapproving of the large chunk of change Americans spend each year on “stuff”. Here, the author shifts his focus in the direction of the prescription drug industry, implying that pharmaceutical companies play on our insecurities to get more people to use antidepressants as well as other drugs. It is these insecurities that cause us to want more, thus perpetuating the cycle of over consumption.
Spurlock warns his audience to think before they buy, and to keep an eye out for manipulation tactics in advertising, because the only thing on marketers’ minds is persuading people to buy their products. Mr. Spurlock begins strengthening his ethos, by discussing the fact that people still smoke cigarettes, “all despite that surgeon general’s warning on every single pack”. Calling attention to the fact that the surgeon general, a licensed physician who is considered to be a reliable source, deems cigarettes as hazardous to your health, helps provide a sense of authenticity to his writing.
The surgeon general has not only graduated from medical school, but has also spent a minimum of fifteen years in their field of expertise. It is because of these many years of schooling and practice that physicians are regarded as trustworthy. Another example of the ethos in the in the excerpt was the casual name-dropping of the Department of Transportation, “according to the Department of Transportation, there are now, for the first time in history, more cars than drivers in America”. This allows the audience to assume that since the Department of Transportation is a government agency, they have an acceptable understanding of the ins and outs of the auto-industry.
Additionally, his background in documenting the food industry also aids in establishing credibility.The writer appeals to the audiences’ desires with the statement, “Cigarettes were cool, cigarettes were hip, cigarettes were sexy”. Tobacco companies hone in on consumer’s willingness to fit in and be accepted as part of the cool crowd. This is exactly what Spurlock does in order to sway his readers towards his side of the argument. The author also creates an emotional link between himself and his audience by bringing to light the manner in which pharmaceutical companies play on consumers’ insecurities in order to sell their product, “We’ve got drugs in America we can take for anything: if we’re feeling too bad, too good, too skinny, too fat, too sleepy, too wide awake, too unmanly”. This invokes feelings of betrayal between buyers and the drug industry. Marketers are using our own weaknesses against us! The usage of this technique provides a disconnect between the audience and corporations.
Morgan Spurlock implements the logos appeal by providing an abundant amount of statistics, one example being, “We spend more on ourselves than the entire gross national product of any nation in the world”. This appeals to our sense of rationality, because the act of spending this colossal amount of money is unnecessary. He also demonstrates the logos appeal with the data, “in 2003, we Americans spent $227 billion on medications”. This shows the extent of our problem with over consumption while upholding his claims.
During the entirety of the excerpt, Morgan Spurlock maintains a feeling of lightheartedness, while effectively drawing attention to the countless methods advertisers use to deceive and trick their customers. He continuously ridicules the outlandish amount of money Americans spend purchasing and advertising products, as well as warns the reader to avoid manipulation by these industries. Although he does make a couple of outrageous exaggerations here and there, overall his methods prove to be adequate to support his argument. He ends the chapter with one terrifying fact, Americans are eating themselves to death.