DVD Review – Bigger, Stronger, Faster
Steroids as a path to celebrity and admiration
The documentary 'Bigger Stronger Faster' provides valuable insight as to why so many non-professional athletes turn to steroids to make their muscles larger. The majority of the main characters are struggling with an addiction to being admired and we discover the sons' answers to the question 'what do I want my body to look like and what am I willing to do to achieve that goal?'
The mother is overweight, but still cooks fattening food. Is it because she needs the praise that she receives from making delicious foods more than she needs to be at a healthful weight?
She raises three sons, and all three struggle with their weight as children, each turning to exercise to mold their bodies, and eventually steroids to improve their results. The oldest and youngest brothers have become dependant on steroids to provide them with bodies that give them the same kind of approval from others that their mother's cooking gives to her. We see the profile of a "wrestler" who is unsatisfied with coaching other athletes because he wants the limelight, and continues to audition for wrestling stardom. We see a "weightlifter" who only achieves the type of praise he craves when he can lift weights that are too heavy to handle without the help of steroids.
Bell spends part of the documentary linking the American obsession with "winning" and the use of steroids. The Bell family is really not so obsessed with 'winning' as they are with being in the limelight and being admired. For the oldest and youngest sons, steroids are the path that they take to achieve this goal.
The filmmaker tells us that he was disillusioned by the fact that his idols all used steroids, which in his minds invalidated the advice that kids could achieve their dreams through hard work and clean living. They completely missed the fact that each of the 'heroes' gave back by helping others to achieve their goals. Arnold encouraged kids to become physically fit, Hulk was famous for telling kids to say their prayers and do right, and Rocky loved his wife, family and coach. A real role model doesn't just 'win,' they help and inspire others. The one brother that does find a coaching job dismisses the opportunity to share his knowledge and motivate others by saying "those who can't do, train."
As a long distance runner, I achieve the type of body I want through diet, running and lifting weights. I want to compete in a half marathon more than I want to sleep in, eat a tray of brownies or lay on the couch and watch TV, so I dedicate myself to training. It is the same with these brothers and the other athletes that Bell interviews in the documentary. The sticking point is when having a 'normal life' with a happy family, rewarding job and healthy body is LESS important to the athlete than his/her body image and the respect and kudos that are gained by athletic prowess. Steroid use is a warning sign that their lives and priorities are out of balance.
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