McLibel (2005)

Sunday, December 30, 2007
McLibel tells the story of Helen and David, two friends, in their fight against McDonalds, one of the world's largest and most powerful multinational companies.

Back in the later 80's, Helen and David were part of Greenpeace London, an environmental/human rights group committed to fighting for the little guy. They began a leaflet campaign aimed at McDonalds, letting people know what they felt was the truth about the company, it's advertising, employment practices, and nutritional claims. Shortly after their campaign began, there were a number of new members who volunteered their time to the organization but since it was open to the public, no background checks or investigation into the new members was done. It turned out that these new volunteers were in fact spies placed there by the McDonalds corporation who stole documents including letters, personal information, and bank account numbers from the group and its members. Five members of Greenpeace London were served with a lawsuit demanding they apologize for the slanderous allegations McDonalds claims they made about the company.

All but Helen, a gardener, and David, a postman, choose to apologize and therefore the suit against them was dropped. David and Helen, however, decided they weren't going to bullied into submission as newspapers, media outlets, and others had been in the passed. They decided to face the charges in court. McLibel details the longest court case in UK history and follows these two activists in their struggle for freedom of speech. The case looks at five claims they made regarding nutrition, advertising, environmental impact, employement practices, and the treatment of animals in the creation of its products. Forced to defend themselves as they were only given two hours of legal aid and couldn't afford to hire a legal team to help them, they faced an uphill battle as McDonalds spent millions of dollars on top notch libel lawyers to present their side.

Overall, the documentary was quite good although my one complaint is the courtroom re-enactments they did - a bit cheesy and, I think, unneccessary. It's nice to see a modern day David stand up to a multinational Goliath. I'm not going to give away the decision in the trial or the what happened afterwards (although some of you might be familiar with the case). I found it interesting that Helen and David said at the end of the film they weren't trying to tell everyone to give up their Big Macs™. They wanted to give people the information they needed and let them "Judge for Themselves". You can also check out the McSpotlight website which was established to help get their message across internationally.

Captain Recommended.

I would like to add that I'd been considering doing another few weeks eating vegetarian as I did last year. Well, during the segment on the treatment of animals, there was some very graphic footage of a beef processing plant including the kill floor and slaughtering followed by a chicken "factory" (for lack of a better word) which I was completely unprepared for. That was more than enough to push me over the edge - rather than just a week as the official Challenge was/is for, I'm attempting to do the entire month of January (and if I can do that, I should be able to keep going at that point). I also think that I've gotten my mother, a certified meat eater, interested in Yves Veggie Ground Round for spaghetti sauce...I never thought I'd see the day that happened. I don't suppose anyone wants to encourage the Captain by getting her the Veganomicon for her upcoming birthday ??? Just kidding... now watch, I'll end up with three copies :-)


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I could go vegetarian but not vegan. I like my dairy and I use eggs in baking. Ever since my bypass surgery, I'm eating way less meat than I used to. I'll look for this film, it sounds right up my alley.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I do believe I could be veggie quite effortlessly were it not for the other people that I cook for. Good luck with your month-long challenge!

sp said...

Hurray! It's a step in a very positive direction. It's good for you, for animals and for the environment. Of course you knew I'd say something along those lines right?
Veganomicon is the ultimate cookbook and it's such an entertaining read. Isa and Terry are geniuses as far as I'm concerned. Vegan Planet is another brilliant cookbook.
If you're ever looking for ideas or recipes just let me know, I have a library of veg cookbooks and years of experience sampling from them.

mister anchovy said...

Tuffy P mostly avoids meat. She'll eat fish or shrimp, and she eats eggs and dairy - but she does have one exception. Last year, she declared kielbossa to be a vegetable (her theory is that the garlic content is so high, it must count as a vegetable - she says it's a root - har!). I made veggie cabbage rolls for her along with the traditional meat ones for Christmas. For the filling I used some of the Yves Mexican fake meat stuff, cooked up with red peppers and zuchinni and onions. They were really quite good, if I say so myself.

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