On Tuesday night, British chef Jamie Oliver premiered the second season of his obesity-fighting show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. But, things didn't go as planned. Since the Los Angeles school system refused to submit to Oliver's "transparency" demands, he opted to work with a local burger joint. And ratings plummeted, with the premiere down nearly 40 percent from last season. Meanwhile, online commentators are starting to question Oliver's methods, saying they infringe on personal freedom. Do they really?
Yes, he takes it too far: While "I'm actually a big fan of Jamie Oliver's," the tone of the premiere, and maybe the entire show, "really irk[s] the hell out of me," says Chez Pazienza in The Huffington Post. I don't think Oliver's "condescendingly castigat[ing]" the owner of an independent burger joint for having the gall to serve milkshakes instead of smoothies is really helping America's obesity crisis. There's "something decidedly draconian about pushing to reflexively relieve us of our freedom of choice when it comes to what we eat," even if his motives are good.
"Food fighter: Freedom of choice vs. Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution?"
And he doesn't effect real change: While "Oliver is great at the grand gestures," his showboating doesn't "make for coherent arguments, either with school officials or, ultimately, with TV viewers, I would guess," says Ken Tucker in Entertainment Weekly. Filling up a school bus with sugar to show how much of the white stuff kids consume is an arresting image, but only 20 people on the show came to look at it. And why would the owner of an independent restaurant want "to be used as Jamie Oliver's guinea pig"?
"Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution season premiere review: Crappy burgers and sugary drinks, we love 'em! Go home, Jamie!"
But his cause is so noble: While I'm an "ardent believer" in "individual liberty... and parental responsibility," and expected to be riled up by Oliver, I'm a convert, says Ed Truitt in The Houston Chronicle. I was astounded by the bus filled with sugar and thought it was unfortunate that the restaurant owner didn't change his menu. Sure, Oliver tends "toward the overly dramatic," but sometimes people do "need to be shamed into actually changing their mindsets, without which any attempt at reform — no matter how well-intentioned — is doomed to fail."
"Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution: Los Angeles, you have a problem"