Saturday, March 14, 2009

Obsolete Movie Reviews: Bigger Stronger Faster*

Bigger Stronger Faster* is a documentary made in 2008 by Chris Bell about steroid use in sports.

So, piglet, that means that you now know about the grave dangers of doping yourself up in order to cheat at sports, right?

Oddly, no. As a past writer for pro wrestling shows and the brother of two unrepentant steroid users, Bell seems to be in no position to demonize the drug. And he does not. In fact, he spends a lot of time talking with (certain) sports trainers, muscle magazine editors, and sports "ethicists" who tell us that there are really no known long term adverse effects of steroids (besides the ball shrinkage, of course), mainly because it is ethically impossible to conduct such tests. 

He faults congress (somewhat rightly deserved) for spending eight days taking testimony on the evils of steroids in professional sports, which was eight more days than they spent taking testimony on health care or ending the war in Iraq that year. 

Bell's argument seems to be that if it's not steroids, it's going to be something else. Athletes will continue to use the performance enhancing activities that are either legal or that they can get away with. It's the nature of competition, especially in this country, where winning is everything.

Oddly, he seems to have focused most of his anger on Arnold Schwarzenegger, not because he took steroids from the age of 15 to make himself into a champion bodybuilder and then a movie star, but because he now preaches the faith of clean living and clean sport, and tells kids not to use steroids. I guess for Bell, cheating is not nearly as bad as hypocrisy.

The pathos in the documentary comes from his brothers. His younger brother takes steroids to be able to compete at power lifting competitions and lies about it to the students he coaches in football, so that they get the proper "steroids is bad" message (hmm, Arnold?). His older brother had a taste of pro wrestling when he was young, and although he never made it past the role of easy-to-beat-up bad guy and was dropped by the wrestling, um, federation? years ago, he continues to take steroids, wrestle, and dream big. Way bigger than what seems feasible. He's like Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler but without the defeatist attitude.

The thing about his brother that works against his laissez-faire message is that, despite the fact that he is using a prescription drug in an illegal manner in order to become a copy of his childhood idol, Hulk Hogan, he looks nothing like Hulk Hogan, or any other professional wrestler on the circuit these days. Despite the fact that he's injecting all these steroids into his butt and going to the gym regularly, he is obviously not existing on the skinless-chicken-and-salad diet that is necessary to not be a roly-poly, but kinda strong guy.

In other words, he is using this drug as a short cut. And short cuts don't work. Not in sports and not in life. 

Steroids, HGH and EPO are short cuts. They are cheating. Yes, as long as there is competition, there will be cheaters. And as long as technology stays on this stratospheric rise on the old graph-o-technology, we will have better and better cheaters, but with any luck, the fair-play referees will be right on their asses.

Cheating should never be the norm. Ask any client of Bernie Madoff.

1 comment:

D.B. Echo said...

I've always wondered why we don't hear about steroid scandals in professional football.

And apparently amphetamine use is common, accepted, and pretty much the status quo in baseball. I read something in The Sporting News while waiting to pick up my mom at a doctor's office that said that if amphetimine use was stopped in professional baseball, the entire season schedule would have to be rewritten to allow for more rest between games.

And I guess there are no drugs being used in basketball?

WVWord: busture