Ever think about how that processed sugar, white flour and trans-fat grease in fast food is not all that different than drugs?
That’s the message some Oakland teenagers present in their new music video, Are You Loving It?
Teens working at the student-centered Muse Video unit of KDOL TV from nearby MetWest High School and Youth Uprising, both in Oakland, created the video, using tools and training from their internships at KDOL. The TV studio is a joint project of the Oakland Unified School District and Media Enterprise Alliance.
Are you Loving It is about a gang leader Ronald McDonald who hooks his recruits on fast food and makes them go out to street corners to sell sugary drinks and fatty chips, hooking yet more people. They succumb to these addictive substances.
Rap songwriter Alexis Johnson, a 19-year-old from Oakland whose pen name is L.L.D.B., wrote the lyrics, inspired by the health problems in her family.
“Before, I wasn’t really into going healthy. But after this project and seeing a lot of people come together who really care about going healthy and going green, it really made me realize how important food is to everybody,” she said.
“We started off by thinking about our personal experiences with food. I wrote about my grandmother who is a diabetic and my baby brother who had to get his teeth replaced because he ate too much sugar.”
Jake Schoneker, their video instructor at KDOL, said the topic was the youths’ choice. Local hip hop artist and food justice activist Ashel Eldridge also helped the project, working with youth on the sound track for the video.
“The concept for the song and video arose out of education and brainstorming sessions where young people expressed their frustration with the quality of food readily available in urban communities,” Schoneker said.
The video plays on McDonald’s advertising, as a prototype of attempts by many fast food companies to get youth hooked on their food, he said. “They decided that despite what the McDonalds jingle may say– with diabetes and obesity rates going through the roof and little kids getting hooked on sugar and soda– they weren’t really “Loving It” after all.
According to the Alameda County Health Department, about a third of school-aged children in this county are overweight. Yet despite weight, some local children also qualify as malnourished because their access to healthy food is limited.
The video is a public service announcement which the youth hope various schools and nonprofits will use to educate kids about healthy and unhealthy eating. “This marks the debut of this all-new education format, designed to save the lives of at-risk youth suffering from fast food, soda and sugar addiction,” the youth wrote in their Muse Video production material.
They ask people to share the video, which is on YouTube, and to comment on it.