In honor of the the end of the NFL season and the beginning of February, I want to share some video that I captured at True/False last year. Some of you may have heard me raving about a film called Bigger, Stronger, Faster, about America’s obsession with steroids. Well, I was going through some footage from my trip to the festival and it turns out that I shot a little bit of the intro and Q & A from the screening.
It was interesting to watch this clip now that a year has passed and I can find the DVD at Blockbuster, the public library or online with Netflix. It was great to see a young guy without a bunch of films under his belt be treated so well because he was willing to share such a personal story with the world. It didn’t hurt that the film made some poignant arguments about the place that steroids holds in American society but I think it was director Chris Bell’s willingness to put his story and his family’s story on the line that made this film so so compelling.
Here is another clip from the Q & A. If you haven’t seen the film yet, it might be nice to check it out before opening this next clip.
One the things that grabs me in this film is the familiarity of the opening. He starts off in a very personal / experimental form of showing us home videos with first person voice over but shifts to archive from our collective American memory to show how he has grown along side us. His commentary over moments in sports history, pop movie icons and recent political scandals puts us into his shoes for events that we witnessed ourselves so that we can see sports and entertainment from the perspective of a wide-eyed kid with dream of being a pro wrestler.
When we meet the present day Chris Bell, it’s understood that he is bitter about the world of professional sports but it’s intriguing that he still has a love for sports. I think that’s the ultimate reason that we’re willing to use him and his family as a mirror for our culture’s relationship with steroids. A father that sets a good example but let’s you live your own life, a mother who loves unconditionally and three brothers with completely different ways of coping with steroids in their lives.
We’re at that point where we need to come to terms with how we really feel about steroid use in the entertainment industry and in professional sports. It’s true that letting athletes use performance enhancing drugs would set a bad example for our youth but shouldn’t we hold actors and models to the same standards? Isn’t setting unrealistic expectations just as dangerous?
It isn’t the athletes as much as it’s the audience. Imagine how many players would make it through an NFL season without taking something for pain or weight loss. Would you pay for season tickets if your favorite player was allowed to sit out because of back pain or arthritis? Our expectations are unnatural so how can we expect them to be achieved naturally?
I, for one, would still buy a ticket knowing that all those things that society deems unethical are just par for the course. It might make me a bad person but know that I won’t be the only one there.