netlix documentary magic pill
Oooh, controversy is afoot down under in Australia, where celebrity chef Pete Evans is taking criticism for a documentary he co-produced and narrates, called 'The Magic Pill', extolling the virtues of the paleo-ketogenic diet. Cuz the good lord knows nothing ignites the public more than a good old fashioned argument about food! As the great Spam debates at the turn of the century or the Pepsi challenge disceptation of the 1980s show, human beings love fighting over what everyone else should be eating. It seems we're simply not happy unless everyone is eating what we say is right for them to eat. Or maybe we're just happy fighting about it.

The current controversy erupted when Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Dr. Tony Bartone publicly stated that Netflix Australia, which is currently streaming the documentary, should "do the responsible thing" by removing the film from its programming. From Buzzfeed:
"People out there are vulnerable to the messaging," Bartone told The Sydney Morning Herald, explaining that decades of research currently existed to back up the healthy eating guidelines.

"I respect Pete Evans' ability and expertise in the kitchen, but that's where it begins and ends."
The film was released in 2017, and then president of the AMA Michael Gannon tweeted his nomination for the film to the Flakeys "annual awards for the Film/TV least likely to contribute to the #publichealth #prevention". He also compared it to 'Vaxxed' (which should be taken as a compliment by anyone with two firing neurons). Pete Evans has been engaged in a social media verbal war ever since, posting from his popular Instagram and Facebook accounts, accusing these doctors and journalists of having ulterior motives in trying to maintain the status quo in dietary advice in the public sphere (because crying conspiracy always goes over well with the public).

Evans is also taking heat from the media, but they seem more content to launch ad hominem attacks rather than actually criticize the content of the documentary. Australian presenter Sarah Harris of The Sunday Project said, "Stop getting medical advice from celebrity chefs," ignoring the fact that the film features many experts in the field, including a virtual who's who of the keto-paleo pundit world; Nina Teicholz, Dr. William Davis, Dr. David Perlmutter, Loren Cordain, Lierre Keith, Joel Salatin and Nora Gedgaudas, to name a few.

Harris' co-presenter, Tommy Little, added "What I love about Pete Evans' diet is he says it's for other species; this is what they do so we should do that, but I don't reckon other species are that into fake tan and teeth whitening. He's orange." Evans responded by posting an image to Instagram featuring his genuine tan lines (warning: link contains butt crack).

The Daily Mail got in on the action, portraying Evans as cooky chef who says crazy things like Wi-Fi causes health problems, that vegan women should eat meat during pregnancy and that sunscreen is full of toxic chemicals. Yeah, what a nut-bar.

While this contentious media back-and-forth name-calling is what passes for entertainment these days, it also provides a great opportunity to examine the total and complete hypocrisy surrounding dietary recommendations in the public sphere. All we need to do is look at the documentaries that promote veganism that have enjoyed large success on Netflix - same streaming service, same general subject matter (diet), same format... different response from the Health Authorities. 'Forks Over Knives', 'What the Health', 'Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret', 'Vegucated' (I've never even heard of this last one, but it apparently provides a nice little vegucation for its audience) - for too long have we had to tolerate the endless streams of kudos on our Facebook feeds from acquaintances extolling the amazing life-changing disinformation in these films. Netflix is likely responsible for the creation of a veritable army of future former vegans.

Maybe I missed the outrage from the medical community when these vegan documentaries hit the screens. I also must have missed the press releases from governmental bodies warning of the dangers of veganism and how the advice in these films will do public harm. Oh wait - those things never happened. The American Medical Association (which, confusingly, also acronymizes to AMA) actually encourages plant-based meals be served in hospitals. The American Dietetic Association have been continually supportive of vegetarian and vegan diets since the 1980s (very progressive). The American Heart Association also endorses vegetarianism. Just ignore the fact that the president of the AHA just recently had a heart attack.

So it seems the authorities are perfectly happy with documentaries that endorse their pet diets, but anything outside of their dogma must be silenced.They'll call the diet dangerous, without any evidence, and will decry the films for influencing the public, which it views as basically stupid. Bartone was typically patronizing in his whingeing about the 'dangers' of the film:
Newly appointed AMA president Dr. Tony Bartone told Fairfax Media he was worried vulnerable members of society - for example, people living with cancer - would believe some of the claims contained in the documentary over the advice of health professionals.

"All forms of media have to take a responsible attitude when trying to spread a message of wellness," he said. "Netflix should do the responsible thing. They shouldn't screen it. The risk of misinformation ... is too great.

"It's a [part] Australian production and I don't want to rain on an Australian parade, but clearly there needs to be a recognition of the power and influence Netflix brings. People out there are vulnerable to the messaging."
"'Please mister government health body president, don't let me be exposed to information that might run counter to your dogmatic dietary advice! I'm a vulnerable member of society and can't make decisions about my own health for myself, based on my own research and logical reasoning. Please don't let these dangerous ideas get into my brain - who knows what damage they will do!"

Bartone also trots out the old line that there are "decades of evidence-based research to back up current healthy eating guidelines", which apparently makes questioning them verboten, even though they are clearly - to anyone with eyes - not working. He also says that "while eliminating one or more food groups can, for example, result in weight loss it can 'make certain other conditions worse'". Again, no evidence is given for this statement and it's general enough to slide under the radar of most readers, but shouldn't an actual criticism of the film, and indeed the diet, offer something better than it can make other conditions worse? Which conditions? Worse how? Show me the evidence!

One of the reason these medical authorities have their panties in a twist is that the film claims the ketogenic diet can mitigate symptoms of disease and allow people to reduce or discontinue their medications; specifically type II diabetes, autism and cancer. Those last two are a big no-no, but especially cancer. No one is allowed to say that dietary interventions can help with the Big C! No one except for veganism-promoting-documentaries, of course. They can make whatever BS claims they want to without consequence as if they've got some sort of magic hall pass (apparently as long as you're encouraging others to ruin their genetic line, ensuring their offspring will be functionally retarded, whether it's pharmaceutical drugs or veganism, you can act with impunity).

The ironic thing is that, predictably, the controversy has lead to the film becoming even more popular, with Netflix extending its contract for an additional year and releasing it across their platform to other countries in other languages. Thank you very much, reactionary health fascists! You're helping to spread the word!

And Netflix is actually coming out looking pretty good in this (to me, at any rate) since they aren't budging on streaming the film despite the pressure. Sure, all they really care about is the fact that they're making serious bank from the controversy, but at least they haven't wimped out and hypocritically removed the film while featuring so many vegan propaganda pieces. I still haven't forgiven them for the whole Obama show thing, though.

Admittedly, I haven't seen the movie, although it's at the top of my list. And before all the commenters on this piece go into a tizzy, accusing me of being biased and only writing about this movie in a favourable light because it conforms to my own preconceived ideas about diet (because doing research, self-experimentation and using my brain aren't enough to make my dietary choices anything but arbitrary, apparently), let me point out that the main thrust of the above piece is the insincerity behind the media and government health body's reception of the film.

You can say the vegan diet will cure all disease, give you superpowers, save the planet and make herbivores and carnivores skip through the soy fields holding hands, but to actually show people essentially reversing disease with a ketogenic diet needs to be censored. The authorities have a monopoly on health advice. Dissenters are not allowed.