A Documentary on Steroid Culture in the United States
Everybody wants to be Bigger, Stronger, Faster, right? Maybe not everyone, but many people do, in one way or another. The bodybuilder wants to be bigger, the marathon runner wants to be faster, and the power lifter wants to be stronger. At what cost will someone go to reach superiority in his or her athletic field? I watched a movie over the weekend on a whim. I was perusing through Netflix and came across a documentary called Bigger, Stronger, Faster*. At first glance, I was like, right up my alley. A movie about being awesome, I’m down. Then I thought it might be related to the Bigger, Faster, Stronger (BFS) program for high school athletes, but this was not the case. At a closer look, I noticed it was a documentary on steroid use. I was in for the next hour and forty minutes. The use of performance enhancing drugs has been a hot topic throughout the last 15-20 years. As a society we have been inundated with major league baseball scandals, Olympic disqualifications, and the overlooking of steroid use in high school athletics. Steroid usage remains a topic of debate in our country today. Naturally, I had to watch and see what the steroid culture in the United States is like.
Christopher Bell, the narrator, is a regular guy in his thirties. Growing up he and his brothers were obsessed with the muscle heroes of the 80s and 90s. While Bell only experimented with steroids, his brothers built a life around them as they strived to reach their athletic goals. Within the first ten minutes I was hooked. As Bell talks about his childhood superheroes of Arnold, Hogan, and Stallone overcoming insurmountable odds to be heroes in both real life and fiction, I felt a connection with my childhood. I too remember growing up watching Conan the Barbarian, Terminator, and Rocky (especially Rocky 4 where he battles the shredded Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren)). I remember being enthralled by their dominance on screen. These guys were the real deal. They were larger than life characters, and dominated boyhood dreams of a generation. They were the tough guys. They were the good guys (most of the time). I know they had an impact on my life. If you don’t think that movies, TV , and celebrities’ impact people, especially young people, in some fashion, think back. Are their any movies, TV shows, or celebrities that you idolized growing up? Are their any celebrities that you still want to be? I bet there was at least one that impacted you in some way.
Bell continues on explaining that the impressions that these men gave of the American dream were slightly tarnished. He explains that these men used performance enhancing drugs to get those bodies, not by eating a healthy diet or shoulder pressing three people in a farm cart. He uses his brothers, as examples of the impact of steroid culture in the United States. He interviews them, and they are honest about their usage. The steroid use is ingrained in their lifestyle, and although their wives want them to stop using for health reasons, they cannot see their dreams coming to fruition without them. To help give the viewer a better look at the War on Steroids Bell interviews, doctors, fitness models, a congressman, Olympic athletes, and the founder of the Taylor Hooton foundation against steroid use, who helped shape the current US policy against steroids. While Bell doesn’t take a side on the issue, you can tell that this is something that touches very close to home.
I feel like the film gives a very balanced approach to the issue, but is critical of the current policy toward banning steroid use. It is very thought provoking, and should resonate with people on why we should care about performance enhancing drugs in our society. I think this is especially important as people begin to question current policies on other drugs. If you are interested in subcultures, as well as, the culture of steroid use, and its impact on American society, I would definitely recommend this film.
If you want to buy the DVD, check out the link below.
Bigger, Stronger, Faster*
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Photo Credit: www.dogomovies.com