Morgan Spurlock Kills His Grandma
On Sunday, July 28th, I watched Morgan Spurlock's grandmother dying. I saw him stage conversations with his father and aunt concerning his grandmother's welfare. I saw him take a phone call from his father about his grandmother's failing condition on the side of the road, with the camera running, recording impeccable audio of the entire conversation. I was disgusted.
My wife and I began watching Inside Man from the first episode, in which Spurlock got hired for the day at California's top medical marijuana shop. I found Spurlock a very likeable guy with a knack for being whimsical while making a serious point. In a later episode, he joined up with some H2-Visa Mexicans to pick oranges. The series reminded me of Penn & Teller's Bullshit lite. And Spurlock himself Michael Moore lite.
When we learned Spurlock was going to be investigating elder care in the upcoming episode, we were both intrigued. I thought Spurlock would get himself hired for the day at an elder care facility and see, from the inside--as an 'inside man' ought to do--what goes into the care and costs of these facilities. My wife hoped he might touch on the issue of elder abuse. The subject was certainly very fertile.
Instead, Spurlock decided to spend the day with his grandmother and film it. From this footage, I have absolutely no doubt the man cares deeply for his family. Although I found it odd that the question of affordability and a depleting bank account was raised when Spurlock is probably the wealthiest documentarian in America. At any rate, I could see how he intended to integrate his own concerns about his grandmother into his investigation. However, the direction Spurlock takes is one for which I was not prepared and one I frankly find reprehensible.
After spending time with his grandmother and ostensibly moving the show along to the meat of the subject, Spurlock stages the aforementioned conversation with his father in which he learns his grandmother is now in the hospital. Immediately there are questions. Is it possible Spurlock filmed the footage of his grandmother and by pure coincidence she fell ill before the episode was complete? Did he stage his grandmother falling ill for his TV show? Did he have an inkling she would fall ill and decide to capitalize on it?
Whatever the case, Spurlock never really does capitalize on it in the sense of pursuing his point. There is no point, in fact. What follows is harrowing footage of Spurlock's family fretting in the hospital hallways while their beloved 'Tootie' may be on her deathbed. These scenes are nightmarishly similar to my own memories of my grandmother's last days and I certainly would never have wanted nor allowed a camera to record it all. I would not have wanted my family, at this vulnerable moment, to stage agonized conversations. I would not have wanted to show my grandmother in a state of lesser dignity.
Spurlock has no such quibbles. We see his grandmother babbling incoherently in bed. I did not want that image of a woman I found very charming. I don't deserve that intimacy. Yet this continues for the remainder of the episode until, at last, Spurlock shows the funeral. I watch in a stupor at Spurlock's lack of conscience; my wife shouts at the TV, 'Shame on you!'
Of course Spurlock did not kill his grandmother. Yet he used her dying and her death for a TV show. Staged hugs and kisses, false intimacy and very real grief are exploited--truly exploited--for this episode. I have no idea what Spurlock's purpose was. Was it misguided self-aggrandizement? Nothing was revealed about elder care. The woman's dignity was sullied for no greater purpose than filler.
Had Spurlock any integrity, he would have pursued an investigation into elder care facilities. He would have taken that phone call from his father in private. He would have been present at his grandmother's sickbed/deathbed in private. He would have grieved in private. And he would have ended the episode with a note about his grandmother's death after the earlier footage, perhaps tying it in with the episode's content.
Instead, we have this heinous bit of exploitation. Neither I nor my wife have plans to watch Inside Man ever again. Shame on Spurlock and shame on CNN for airing content without any merit.