Morgan Spurlock, director of the hit documentary “Supersize Me” has cast his gaze towards the small screen with a new series called 30 Days. The premise is simple. Have somebody live 30 days outside their comfort zone and see the results. One episode (I think the second one) is about a Christian living in a Muslim household. I can’t wait.
Now, I just watched the first episode today (thank you Bit Torrent), and I have to say it’s pretty eye opening. In it Spurlock tackles the issue of living on minimum wage. Actually, him and his fiancÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©, Alexandra, move to Columbus, Ohio for a month and try to make ends meet. Their first day finds them renting an apartment that’s right above an alleged crack den.
However, what’s nearly as eye opening as “30 Days” is the fact that some are already trying to discredit the show. And let’s be honest here, the only reason you try to discredit something is if you think it can affect some type of change, be it good or bad.
First and foremost all those minimum wage jobs are scarcer than the producers apparently thought. All the easily-found jobs pay more than minimum wage. Spurlock signs on with a temp agency at $7/hr; his companion Jamieson dickers her wage down to minimum so as to not cheat the show’s premise. (Spurlock quits when he finds deductions bring his take home down to a measly $4.26. This is important. We return to the puzzle of his deductions shortly.)
Econopundit goes on to question nearly every aspect of the show, including Alexandra’s urinary tract infection and if she already had it before she got to Ohio (does it matter?) and an injured wrist Spurlock gets on a landscaping job he takes. The gripe there is how Spurlock went to the emergency room and bitched about the bill, but worker’s compensation was never mentioned as an option to pay for it. Hey, fair enough Econopundit, but you are COMPLETELY missing the point. Sure, the focus of the episode is how much money they have and how they’re trying to make ends meet, but quit nay saying and dig deeper!
Oddly enough, the New York Daily News does “get it” (in bold):
There’s some humor in the experience, and in other hands, it could be played for laughs. But Spurlock has something more sobering in mind: a first-hand taste of the way millions of real-life people really live.
Now, yes, there’s an unavoidable element of discomfort here, the same one we feel when rich white folks walk through, say, a poor African village. We know that after 30 days, Morgan and Alex will return to their regular, comfortable life.
But that doesn’t negate the message from their experience, which is that not having enough money simply grinds you down.
Things that people of even modest means take for granted, like paying bills, buying food when they’re hungry or taking a bus to work, became major daily decisions, producing tension and anxiety.
Basically, if you struggle to make ends meet, you’re more likely to fight with your spouse, more likely to get a divorce and more likely to raise kids in a dysfunctional environment.
Just ask anybody who’s lived like that. They’ll tell you. It sucks.