Who does Jamie Oliver think that he is? Is he some messiah figure who has come to save us from the perils of eating too much sugar? Or is he a self-aggrandising minor TV celebrity who is very good as convincing the people around him that things are his idea in the first place?
I’ve watched two films today about the dangers of sugar in our diets. The first was That Sugar Film with Damon Gameau. The second was Jamie’s Sugar Rush on Channel Four. Both have a very worthwhile message about the use and consequences, not only of excess sugar in our diets, but also the daily use of sugar as a staple of modern industrialised cooking.
But where That Sugar Film attempts to explain the issues in an entertaining, visual and personally engaging way, Jamie Oliver just comes across as being a quick leap onto the passing bandwagon.
Yes, Oliver’s name and record has a bit of pulling power in terms of getting the issue talked about, but when he comes across as the first person to have discovered the crisis of obesity and diabetes, then his film loses credibility.
Where That Sugar Film demonstrates the effects of sugar consumption on an otherwise healthy person, Damon Gameau himself, Jamie’s Sugar Rush just comes across as an indignant lurch that offers only a knee-jerk response from Jamie and his multimillionaire friends who run the chain-restaurants in the UK.
Both films have heart-wrenching moments that everyone should see, and I certainly don’t doubt the sincerity of Oliver’s response. I’m just a bit cynical, perhaps, that the real answer lies elsewhere, and that challenging the food giants to stop killing people with their food-like products, and their aggressive marketing techniques, is a bit like standing in front of an army of tanks and waving your shopping bag at them, screaming ‘no sugar in my bag!’