FILM: Bigger, Stronger, Faster *The Side Effect of Being American
FILMMAKER: Chris Bell
FILM REVIEWER: Katy Jones
Dude, this one totally rocks.
This amazingly huge dude pumps iron at Gold’s Gym and wonders if he should do something else with his life – like steroids. I mean, of course, why not? Everyone else is doing it. Well, not me. But like everyone in his family, all of his heroes, every upstanding American he knows, you know, all of those people are doing it.
So to find the answer about what he should do, he talks to everyone on both sides. His family, his congressman, and his heroes. The thing is the anti-steroid group comes off like dirtbags. So they don’t really help their argument that steroids are bad. That being said, the folks who actually do steroids don’t generally seem like they are having a happy lovely life as a result. So they don’t really help their argument that steroids are good. (Well, except that HIV-positive guy who uses steroids so he doesn’t waste away – that guy definitely seems like he’s having a happier life). Arnold Schwarzenegger not withstanding, it seems that most people who use steroids aren’t really going out and achieving fame. They’re just hoping to be awesome at the thing they love – power lifting, wrestling, bodybuilding…or track, bicycling, baseball. And when everyone in the playing field is using steroids, you kind of have to use just to keep going.
And that’s where it gets all back to America. We like to be the best at stuff. Our expectations for perfection are to insane and unrealistic. This is really the point of the movie. Steroids is sort of the lens by which our culture gets a critique. We idolize insane superheroes and stick figures and then in our weird sado-masochistic way we punish people for trying to achieve these ideals. As a society we legally allow what we know to be really harmful chemicals – cigarettes, alcohol, trans fat, but criminalize chemicals like steroids because they “might” be harmful. We people “losers” when they try their best to abide by the rules and still can’t win, and “criminals” or “cheats” when they use chemical enhancement.
And so there’s no answer in this film – are steroids good or bad? Like most things in life – it’s gray. It’s gray with lots of pro-America theme songs, movies, and dudes with good families who care a lot about having a good life. It’s pretty much awesome. The movie that is. I’m probably not going to try steroids. But you should really watch this movie. It’s entertaining and thought-provoking. Well-edited, well-told, and well-researched. Winner.
Five out of Five cheers.