June 20, 2008

"Bigger, Stronger, Faster."



Those before and after pics were taken on the same day — as demonstrated in the new documentary "Bigger Stronger Faster." It's an excellent documentary, mostly about steroid use — but also about hypocrisy, competition, and fakery.

The subtitle is "The Side Effects of Being American." Watch the trailer to get a decent idea of how that angle works:



If you want to laugh at Henry Waxman, this is your movie.

From the review by Beth Accomando:
Since [the director Christopher] Bell hangs out with people like his brothers that have no problems with using steroids, the pro-steroid camp definitely gets to have a say in the movie. So some people will probably see the film as biased in favor of steroids. Contributing to the perception of the film as pro-steroid is the fact that the people Bell does let talk about the negative side of steroid use often come off looking like idiots....

But in the end I think Bell is not so much pro-steroids but rather eager to open up a debate about the drug...
Accomando interviews Bell. Excerpt:
BETH ACCOMANDO: Were you surprised by people like Congressman Waxman who seemed so ill-prepared for the interview?

CHRIS BELL: It's weird because I'm not a journalist and I wasn't a documentary filmmaker when I started this journey so I was super nervous because I had never interviewed a congressman before and when I asked him why are steroids illegal and he turns to his assistant and says, "Are they illegal?" And I thought oh my god this is the guy who called the baseball hearings and he doesn't even know what he's talking about. That's really interesting to me because we really uncovered how we don't always have the facts when we are making the laws in this country. So I question in the movie why steroids became illegal in the first place. So I wanted to explore both the myths of steroids and the bad side effects of steroids and the possible positive medical applications as well.
This made me go back and watch the old Bloggingheads segment I did with Stephen Kaus. Skaus wanted to talk about the steroid controversy, and I was just trying to be a good sport about his topic. So it's a little odd that I went to the movie. But, basically, I like documentaries and it got great reviews. I recommend it.

There's a lot of interesting materials about the Bell family and the culture of male competition. Much of this was presented as "American" — as if Americans care about winning more than others or are more willing to cheat to win (or bullshit that it's not really cheating). There were a few ham-handed attempts to connect muscular sports competition to American foreign policy, but there was plenty of material about drugged-up muscle men from other countries to undercut that theory. (Like this guy.) I mean, the Michael Moore influence was definitely present, but Michael Moore can't bench press 705 pounds.

20 comments:

Joe said...

Much of this was presented as "American" — as if Americans care about winning more than others or are more willing to cheat to win (or bullshit that it's not really cheating).

I guess they never heard of the East Germans. Or the Russians.

Seven Machos said...

I had this big idea one day about a television network called DOC. All it would is documentaries. They're interesting. You learn a ton. They can't be real expensive to get the rights to.

So I thought I'd look into it. Turns out, it already exists but I don't get it with Comcast.

Oh well.

matthew said...

I can't help it, the title of this post reminds me of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgBgnoEY4iM

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Don't disrespect the Iron Shiek! He will make you humble!!!

Seriously, liberals HATE the ethos of success in this country- they would like nothing better than for their culture of self-hatred and defeatism to become popular, like in Europe.

It's really what punitive liberalism is all about.

Guys like the Iron Sheik weren't fooled by their kind. He came here from Iran to make the most out of his gifts and to pursue happiness as he saw it. He loves America more than Michael Moore, tha'ts for sure.

Seven Machos said...

I notice that professional wrestling isn't big in Europe. No country without serious professional wrestling can be a serious country.

Watch out for Mexico.

Neil Benson said...

The video came across to me as being against steroid use because it raised critical questions that aren't raised often enough. Arnold isn't a completely well man because of his long-term use of steroids. I don't know where Jeff gets his tirade against liberals and how we can exit with steroid use. Perhaps he should cut back on his own.

Seven Machos said...

I think the liberal thing is because of Waxman.

Chip Ahoy said...

I can smell steroids a mile away. Well, maybe 1/2 a mile. OK FINE! Close up. Plus they make your testicles shrink. Unless you don't have testicles to begin with, in which case they cause facial hair. I read that last part in a book.

Methadras said...

It's not that hard not to laugh at Henry Waxman. That rat-faced douche-bag is a walking, two-legged joke. He's one of the dumbest people on earth and I'm amazed that he can muster the neurological ability to keep his autonomic system from simply turning him into spineless jello and not have him lose his bowels everytime he forms a thought or tries to articulate that meandering mental minutiae into some sort of cohesive vocalization. In short, he's a fucking twit.

Bissage said...

(1) The difference between that before photo and that after photo is pretty striking. Look how much nicer his smile is afterwards.

(2) I know a trailer is supposed to grab your attention but there’s too much going on in that one for my taste. I prefer things slower so I can look around a bit. Saw “Rashômon” a few days ago – just right.

Sometimes I despair that I won’t live long enough that moving pictures will stop flashing and strobing at me as people, places, words and things come sweeping and swooshing from all directions like jet interceptors.

Still, I will not yield. I steadfastly refuse to stop worrying and love the new turbocharged video imagery.

(3) I think there may well be something to this idea that steroid use is a distinctly American phenomenon. We’re an especially competitive lot. The burning need to win is deep within us all.

“Mr. President, we must not allow a muscle mass gap!”

George said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
George said...

Rrrr. Hulk smash! Smash Thor! Smash the Waxman!

P. Rich said...

The US has a bad habit of shooting itself in the foot when it comes to international competition. Many countries ignore drug proscriptions in sports and invest large sums to stay ahead of testing technology; and we are ridiculed for our stance on monetary payments to "facilitate" business dealings in foreign locales. That isn't "nice", you see, even though it might be an openly accepted custom locally.

So, when Uncle Sam steps in and condemns steroids or baksheesh, is it legitimate government actions reflecting important moral and ethical concerns, or inappropriate government interference? I'm not sure there is an obvious "correct" answer to that question.

William said...

Just recently there was a documentary on PBS about the East Germany doping experience. Some two thousand athletes without their knowledge or consent were doped. Some of the women became so masculine that they had to change their sex. Some athletes died of heart attacks while training. These consequences were among a young population. The athletes are now entering a period when the long term consequences become visible. None of the physicians or apparatchiks involved in the program ever went to jail.....I understand that there are consequences to steroid use, but they never tell you the odds. I'm at the age where everything I touch turns to tendonitis. If the occasional use of steroids speeded up the healing process and gave me a 1 in 100,000 chance of developing cancer, I would probably throw the dice. Not so, if 1 in 10,000....It does seem needlessly narcisstic to take steroids just to develop pumped up muscles. Perhaps we exagerate the dangers for the same reason we exaggerated the danger of silicon breast implants to women. It is OK to cheat to win, but cheating to look good that is really wrong.

somefeller said...

Those before and after pics were taken on the same day

Damn, I need to get me some steroids! Anything that has results that are that dramatic and that fast has to be good. Ann, does the film say what brand that guy was using?

Ann Althouse said...

somefeller: That's actually the director Christopher Bell, who opposes using steroids and doesn't use them. The difference is a combination of posture, facial expression, makeup, and Photoshop. So suck it in, smile, use bronzer to draw a six-pack, and find the right photographer.

PatCA said...

"Much of this was presented as "American" — as if Americans care about winning more than others or are more willing to cheat to win (or bullshit that it's not really cheating)."

That gives a tired, overdone story the veneer of social comment. Those damned Americans! Hey, it gave Spurlock a career.

somefeller said...

somefeller: That's actually the director Christopher Bell, who opposes using steroids and doesn't use them. The difference is a combination of posture, facial expression, makeup, and Photoshop. So suck it in, smile, use bronzer to draw a six-pack, and find the right photographer.

Alas. Oh well, off to the gym. Guess I have to do it the hard way.

TMink said...

Waxman, if only nostrils were brains.

Trey

Padre Steve said...

I wonder how anyone is ever suprised anymore! What a life!