Bigger, Stronger, Faster
Pop culture junkies tend to think of Hulk Hogan, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as entertainment figures. In Poughkeepsie, NY, back in the 1980s, filmmaker Christopher Bell and his brothers viewed them as heroes and became bodybuilders. Like the Hulkster, Mike and Mark Bell even turned to professional wrestling. Chris, a former staffer at Venice’s famous Gold’s Gym, doesn’t use anabolic steroids–he did try them once–but his heroes have and his brothers do, leading him to look deeper at this increasingly common practice.
While Bell explores the health costs of juicing, he’s mostly concerned with the moral consequences involved in the use of performance-enhancing substances. Though he refrains from judgment, he stopped taking steroids because it felt dishonest. Naturally, his burly brothers feel otherwise. Aside from his family, Bell speaks with doctors, lawyers, congressmen, gym rats, and professional athletes, like Olympic sprinters Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis and Tour de France cyclist Floyd Landis.
He also includes footage of José Canseco, Barry Bonds, and Mark McGwire testifying during the federal grand jury and congressional hearings on steroid use in the major leagues (prompted by the publication of Canseco’s Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big). For the most part, Bell doesn’t leave any stone unturned and the personal nature of his entertaining and enlightening inquiry elevates Bigger, Stronger, Faster, i.e. The Side Effects of Being American, above your average exposé. Recommended to athletes, sports fans, health nuts, and of course, pop culture junkies
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