Bigger, Stronger, Better

From Al Benson

Last night, my partner and I went to the film Bigger, Stronger, Better. The story of steroid use in America as refracted off the lives of an American family from Poughkeepsie ,NY. Its core belief is that steroid use is rampant in the US because it is an essential component of the American mentality of being a winner. It was a very well done documentary that surprised me by its open forthrightness in discussing the subject from every angle.

The science was correct and explained in a way that was useful to everyone watching, from the total indi/IFC buff to educated consumers like my partner and myself.

The angle I was most interested in was of course the application of these drugs to people living with AIDS, but I had not actually believed that it would be covered except in the most general way.

Was I wrong! About a half hour into the film , who should I see but the handsome, Smith Bros. bearded face of our friend and long term HIV survivor, Jeff Taylor.

Jeff spoke at length on two segments of his initial experience with the life saving effects of his steroid use, noting that he was able to rise up out of his death-bed, gain 30 pound in 6 weeks and gain 300 T-cells in the same 6 weeks.

Since we went on opening weekend, there was a Q&A with the 3 principle filmmakers. The crowd at the movie house was mainly indi types with a scattering of industry people. I thought it was odd that Tony and I were the only ‘big guys’ with the AIDS, there on opening Saturday Night.

I decided to question the director why they chose to spend so much time on ‘the Jeff Tailor segments”. And they said that they had read Built To Survive by Nelson Vergel and Michael Mooney and elaborated that Steroids were powerful lifesaving medications and that needed to be shown.

They eviscerated the congressional hearing and made Waxman look like a dottering idiot and Joe Biden look like an irrational angry man. Although, Joe Biden was the only actual congressman who attended the DC screening and said it was an excellent film.

I told them that they had made an excellent film and the only problem I say was the advertising for it. I had only known about the film from a conversation I had almost two years ago with somebody that they had interviewed and was lying on the cutting room floor, I guess.

In short it’s a film worth seeing, especially since it treats the issue of HIV and takes on some of the demonizing myths surrounding steroid use in America. Changes are that it will come to your town during the rollout, but you won’t hear about it, so you need to make the effort to search it out. It won’t be out in DVD for a long time so I recommend that everyone who can should make an effort to see it.

Al Benson

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