Don’t look now, but “stuff-another-Big-Mac-in-my-mouth” Morgan Spurlock is up to his old shenanigans with Season Two of “30 Days.” The man who ate nothing but McDonalds for thirty days, and got fat, sick and famous as a result, premiered the second season of his life-swapping reality show Wednesday with an emotional promotion of immigrant amnesty and a dollop of condemnation toward opposing viewpoints.
Spurlock’s template for his shows is to stick someone in an uncomfortable new environment and videotape them as they struggle to adapt. Wednesday’s episode features Minuteman Frank George living with a family of illegal aliens. For a month, George attempts to live as an illegal immigrant, giving up his driver’s license, working as a day-laborer, and moving in with the Gonzales family.
As with most of Spurlock’s shows, there is always a twist to thicken the irony. Frank George’s own family is made up of immigrants as well – but in his case, they came legally. George’s family fled Castro’s Cuba when he was seven years old. George is also a member of the Minutemen, a group of citizens who patrol the southern border and report illegal crossings to the border patrol. (and of course the show makes a big to-do about the firearms he’s packing while on patrol).
It’s pretty obvious from the outset that Spurlock’s motto for the episode will be, “If this gun-toting, Republican immigrant can accept the illegals, then the rest of you should too.” There is no question that Spurlock intends to enlighten this close-minded conservative.
And so, throughout the thirty-day experience, Spurlock highlights how hard the family works, how scared they are of being deported, the discrimination they experience, and the conflicts within the family that occur because two of the four children are citizens by birthright.
It all turns into a giant guilt trip for Frank George who, despite fleeing real oppression with his parents, should have more sympathy for his immigrant brethren.
George shows up at the Gonzales house to find five people living in a one-bedroom apartment, sleeping on the floors and in the corners. The family is shocked that George is Latino. They expected their close-minded victim to be a “gringo.” The man of the house is a day laborer and scraps together odd jobs to bring in about $15,000 a year.
George sticks to his principles during several discussions, debates, and shouting matches with the family. As with any reality show, I’m sure the producers had something to do with escalating the conflict.
Frank George is well-educated on the immigration issue and keeps reminding the family about the consequences of illegal immigration on America’s national security and rule of law. He really drives home the point when the father says he wants to get citizenship so he can hire more people from over the border.
The heavy emotional guns come out when Spurlock focuses on the oldest daughter, who is a straight-A student at the local high school and dreams of going to Princeton. She’s very polite and articulate, plays on the local golf team, and simply wants the American dream. It’s an emotional appeal -- and an effective one -- used by amnesty advocates all the time. The strategy is to shift our attention away from the border and toward the heartbreaking human interest stories around us. That is why principled immigration reformists have insisted on focusing on the border first and addressing the illegal immigrants already here later. Americans are extremely compassionate people—the most generous in the world. They’ll pitch in to help a family in need but they also want to see things change.
Morgan Spurlock understands this, and does an excellent job of putting a human face on the immigration debate. Unfortunately, amnesty is not a stand-alone solution to the immigration problem, but Spurlock is comfortable ignoring that for the purpose of this show.
But Spurlock’s political statements disguised as life-swapping experiments don’t end with this episode. Spurlock isn’t stupid. Over and over, he manages to twist and bend the phenomenon of reality television into his own little political bully pulpit. In last year’s season he used his life-swap template to cover up the hate of the radical Islamic community and expose the homophobia of an ex-military guy. The situations are total setups, and it’s crystal clear that the shows’ outcomes are determined long before the participants begin the social experiment. This is all in an effort to spread Spurlock’s own brand of liberalism.
Season Two of “30 Days” will also showcase an outsourced computer programmer who moves to India to live with the beneficiary of his lost job, an atheist forced to live with evangelical Christians, and a pro-abortion activist who spends thirty days living and working at a crisis pregnancy home. No doubt traditional values will be disparaged and typical Americans living typical lives will be made out to look like close-minded, ignorant fools.
In the season finale, Spurlock himself will see what life behind bars is like when he spends thirty days in county lockup in Richmond, Virginia.
Let’s pray one of his cameramen loses the keys.UPDATE: A very helpful reader points us to a letter from Frank George correcting the misrepresentation in the show that his views on illegal immigration have softened.