Upon first glance, the thing that jumps out about Morgan Spurlock is his moustache. Spurlock has sported the horseshoe moustache for as long as he can remember. Over the years it has become part of his identity, serving as more than just a unique style of facial hair. It characterizes a man for whom “normal” is just another entry in the dictionary and an excuse for a lack of creativity. His work as a documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, and television producer have demonstrated his willingness to push existing boundaries on a quest to expose the raw nature of controversial issues.
Born on Nov. 7, 1970, Morgan Valentine Spurlock was raised in the small town of Beckley, in the southern part of West Virginia. He was exposed to music, literature, and art at an early age by his mother who wanted her children to find their artistic voices. Spurlock graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1989, already set in his intention of becoming a filmmaker. After being denied five times to the film school at USC, he was accepted to the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.
The idea for his critically acclaimed documentary “Super Size Me,” would not come until almost 10 years after graduating from NYU. While at his mother’s house in Beckley for Thanksgiving, Spurlock witnessed a report about two girls in New York suing McDonald’s for “making them obese.”
“Super Size Me” (2004) documented a span of 30 days, during which Spurlock ate at McDonald’s three times a day, “super sizing” his meal every time he was asked at the counter. By the end of the 30 days, he had gained 25 pounds, registered dangerously high cholesterol levels, and suffered from bouts of depression. It took him 14 months to return to his original weight after the completion of the film.
His next project, “30 Days,” aired on FX in June 2005. The show filmed a person (in some cases Spurlock himself) immersing themselves in a lifestyle completely different from their own for 30 days. A devout Christian living in a Muslim home, a homophobe living with a homosexual, and an honest man serving a month in prison were all filmed for the show.
Most recently, Spurlock’s documentary, “Mansome,” filmed in 2012, was announced as a spotlight for the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City where he resides with his son, Laken.
Joshua Shapiro is a second-year student majoring in both English and education. He can be reached at JS762110@wcupa.edu.