Bigger, Stronger,Faster (BSF) is a new documentary by Chris Bell. The film centers on Bell and his two brothers and their feelings about using anabolic steroid drugs, and the way the media and society tends to demonize steroid usage. Besides the Bell Family (his mom and dad also make appearances), the film features several interviews with well-known personalities, as well as footage of other top athletes. If you’ve seen any of Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock’s work, you have a good idea of the style and pace of the film. The main message seems to be that while steroids are condemned, many other drugs and substances do not have the same stigma attached. Also, the proof that steroids are dangerous is specious at best based on existing evidence. In one example, Bell shows a list of drugs considered dangerous, with steroids placing 142 on the list. According to figures released by the Center for Disease Control, steroids caused exactly 3 fatilities during one year,although precisely how the drugs directly caused these deaths isn’t disclosed in the film. Several of the “experts” interviewed by Bell displayed a refreshingly honest position on steroid usage, notably Charles Yessalis, who edited a reference text about steroid usage in sports. Bell subtly points out that while many decry the vast use of steroids in sports, it’s also true that everyone loves a winner, and steroids do help in this respect. During one sequence, Bell explains to his mother that he used steroids because he “wanted to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.” His mom was wise enough to point out that Bell would never look like Arnold no matter how many drugs he used, which is certainly true. The film has already led to one significant effect. During an interview shown in the film, a model/bodybuilder named Christian Boeving openly admits to his use of steroids. Since he is was also featured in ads for certain food supplements, Bell inquires as the whether the ads are a bit misleading because they suggest that the products pushed by Christian are responsible for his physique. Christian responds by noting that he never denied using drugs, but that he also uses the advertised products. He then adds that if people think that he built his body solely by using the supplement, that’s their problem. This response didn’t sit well with the company that sells the product, who canceled Christian’s contract. Clearly, there must have been a “morals” clause in the contract. I find this interesting, because the company in question is one of the most deceptive in the entire business, and that’s saying a lot in the supplement business!
Speaking of supplements, at one point in the film, Bell shows how easy is is to make a fortune selling sports supplements. He simply sends away for bulk material for the supplement, then puts tiny amounts into the capsules, noting that he doesn’t have to list precise amounts, just list a general heading called “propriatary contents.” He hires two illegal aliens to package the supplement for him. I was happy to watch this particular sequence, since that “proprietary ingredients” listing on many supplements has always been a sore point with me. You have no idea of the precise level of active ingredients in such supplements, and as Bell shows in the film, you could be paying a lot for almost nothing. Ostensibly, the excuse for such overt deception on the part of supplement companies is to prevent competitors from copying their formulas. But any company can do so simply by analyzing the supplement. So the only true loser in this scenario is the consumer who paid a lot of cash for a supplement that cost almost nothing to market. The company that I alluded to earlier uses this deceptive process on most of their supplements, which provides them with a huge profit margin.
Congressman Henry Waxman, who chaired the recent House hearing about drug use in sports, is interviewed and shows that he doesn’t have a clue about the “drug problem.” Also sadly clueless is the father of teen “steroid victim”, Taylor Hooten, who testified before Waxman’s committee. Taylor was a high school baseball player who hung himself, allegedly after using anabolic steroids. But when confronted with the fact that Taylor also used various other drugs, including an antidepressant drug that has been linked to suicides, the father angrily replies.”this is not about those other drugs, it’s about steroids.” I suppose that steroids, being as demonized as they are, is a more convenient and acceptable pharmacological scapegoat for the senior Hooten.
At one point in the film, Bell, who says that he tried to interview Arnold for the film for over a year with no success, decides to stalk the governer at a Venice Beach bodybuilding contest. During that segment in the film, I saw a person talking to Arnold who looked familiar, and realized that it was me. So I have an uncredited, cameo appearance in the film. From what I understand, the critics loved this film, and I, too, thought that Bell did a superlative job, as good as or even better than anything Moore or Spurlock has done. Too bad he didn’t interview me;I could have provided some great info, and besides Bell was standing right next to me at the beach contest.