Monday, June 9, 2008

Bigger, Stronger, Faster: The Side Effects of Being an American

Meet Christopher Bell. That's him in the before and after photos. In one of the most compelling scenes of his movie, Bigger, Stronger, Faster, Bell shows the audience just how easy it is to manufacture and market a dietary supplement in the United States. He orders the ingredients, mixes them up in his kitchen, pours them into capsules, and works with a photographer to create an ad.

"Look as sad and depressed as you can," says the photographer as he snaps the first photo. Then Bell gets waxed and Photoshopped. Suddenly, he's "shredded." No need for FDA approval. No restrictions on his completely manipulated advertisement. It's all 100% legal.

While Bigger, Stronger, Faster focuses primarily on steroid use in America, it is ultimately an exploration of our culture's confusing messages about being the best. Our bodies and our spending habits are certainly evidence of our desperation to be extraordinary. Women are on a quest for thinness and eternal youth. Men feel more and more pressure to have rock hard muscles and six-pack abs. Some of Bell's subjects are extreme examples (Gregg Valentino's enormous biceps are disturbing, to put it mildly), but this is no freak show. It's a film about how our supermodel, supercelebrity, and superathlete worship is making it increasingly difficult to accept--and be happy--with ourselves.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster is open in these theaters.

1 comment:

lola aronovich said...

I watched this documentary at a press screening last week and loved it. I think that, more than anything, it's a film about accepting our own bodies and limitations. I still need to write (a lot) about it. But it's shocking that those "before" and "after" pictures are taken on the same day!