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In America, we define ourselves in the superlative: we are the biggest, strongest, fastest country in the world. Is it any wonder that so many of our heroes are on performance enhancing drugs? Director Christopher Bell explores America's win-at-all-cost culture by examining how his two brothers became members of the steroid-subculture in an effort to realize their American dream. Written by
The post by reviewer "Melkmail" that this movie is "a pro steroid message disguised as an unbiased expose" is quite interesting, and I would agree with him that this film is not the masterpiece of objectivity which some people claim it to be. What I would say is that you will hear some pro-steroid views expressed which might not agree with what you are normally used to hearing about those chemicals. Among other things, Chris Bell has drawn a comparison between the over-the-top anti-marijuana ads of yesteryear (e.g. "Reefer Madness") and the anti-steroid views of the present day. I certainly doubt that those two campaigns are comparable. Similarly, the film points out that steroids have achieved wonderful results in treating illness and injury, as if that in the slightest way mitigates the alleged damage caused by steroid abuse. I don't know about you, but I would hardly be encouraged to take steroids just because someone told me that my testicles would return to normal size after I stopped using steroids.
What is also very interesting about "Bigger, Stronger, Faster" is that the persons interviewed on both sides of the steroid question are not exactly portrayed as "normal." In the interview with Congressman Henry Waxman is edited to depict him as a bit of a flake who does not have a grasp of details or facts. Likewise, those segments in which anti-steroid physician Dr. Gary Wadler is interviewed make him look a bit of a charlatan. Those two men were shown in the worst possible light, and I believe that documentary maker Chris Bell did this deliberately. So much for objectivity.
However, the body-builders, athletes, and coaches who openly advocate steroid use come off no better. It may not have been Bell's intention, but almost all of those pro-steroid folks strike one as a bit abnormal, and a couple of them even appear to be in need of serious psychological help. Is that what long-time steroid use does to a person? There are women who look and talk like men, and men who are almost as wide as they are tall.
Even knowing that those physical results have been achieved with the aid of anabolic steroids it's obvious that all those people have still put in tremendous amounts of hard work to be able to achieve the physical appearance and strength that they have; but the end result for many of them is an freakish appearance that might be more expected from one of Dr. Mengele's monstrous experiments.
The most sensible person in the whole film is Chris Bell's father Sheldon who has seen the effect of steroids use in his own family. He and his wife Rosemary both deserve a lot of credit for permitting themselves to be interviewed in the film.
What is especially shocking about the film, though, is not steroid use, per se. Rather, it is the openly expressed view among steroid advocates that because "everyone does it" they are going to do it, too. The do-gooders in this film may be depicted in a deliberately poor light, but the steroid advocates come across as having absolutely no moral compass. They openly and proudly advocate cheating in sport because their competitors cheat. So, this is what sport has become in America and around the world - a competition among cheaters. Kind of makes you wonder how these people can look at their wide, bloated faces in the mirror each morning.
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