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Hollywood's portrayal of steroids misleading

JANUARY 9, 2008

Although we (I) like to blame the mainstream media for many of the misconceptions that exist about anabolic steroids, the truth is that it’s not just the news organizations. A couple of weeks ago, this column (yes, the newly started “Injected” series) was referenced on Fox News, nationally. Naturally, I wasn’t contacted…nor was anyone at, nor was anything relevant from my Injected column talked about.

But hey, my bald head was on national news, screaming into a microphone, in a montage of scenes about steroids.

It could be worse…I could have been in a movie.

Huh? What am I talking about?

I’m talking about the movies over the past few decades, which have depicted steroid use.

Let’s go through them for a second, alright?

First, there was Rocky IV. In this movie, Rocky fights a steroid-using boxer from Russia who killed Rocky’s best friend in the ring. I say this is Rocky’s best friend by the default fact that he appears to have no other actual friends. Interestingly, the actor who played the Russian killer/boxer has never been associated with anabolic steroids, while the actor who played the “clean” American boxer is a widely known user of both anabolic steroids and growth hormone, and has even faced legal issues regarding importing them into another country.

In the next Rocky movie (part V), he fights another boxer in a street fight, who is played by (the real boxer) Tommy Morrison, who tested positive for steroids during his professional career. At least this time both actors were on an even footing. Morrison also tested positive for HIV, and then later tested negative (huh?).

I think there were something like 8 Rocky movies, although my favorite one was the first, I also enjoyed the one where he went back to Vietnam to free the POWs.

The actual “Rocky” is a Bayonne, NJ based boxer, who never used anabolics. This is ironic on many too many levels.

Remember “The Program”? That was a movie about a fictional college football program. Andrew Byrniarski played a steroid-using (and charisma-impaired) linebacker by the name of Lattimer. He makes the starting defensive team with the help of steroids, but experiences some very bad side effects (of course), and when he stops using steroids, his performance drops. Although Lattimer is dropped from the team, Byrniarski went on to be a football player in 2 more movies (Necessary Roughness & Any Given Sunday).

The Program may actually be the worst movie about football ever – even worse than the one about the Hobbit who walks onto a Notre Dame football team.

And, of course, who could forget the Ben Affleck HBO movie “A body to die for: the Aaron Henry story”.  This movie is about a kid who uses anabolic steroids to make his high-school football team. Of course, he makes the team and suffers hair loss, roid rage, acne, and a bunch of other side effects like…uhh…spontaneous bleeding. Yes, he bleeds for no reason because he’s using steroids.

Seeing Ben Affleck bleed for no reason would usually be my favorite part of any movie, but not this one. My favorite part of this movie is when the real Aaron Henry comes out at the end and talks about ...something or other…I really can’t remember, because all I kept thinking was “Oh my God…look at this morbidly obese guy with thinning hair and a mullet”.

Movie-wise, “The Aaron Henry story” wasn’t Ben Affleck’s best effort…I preferred him as a supporting actor in the story about his genius friend in Boston who later grew up to be a spy with amnesia.

I think that the weirdest use of steroids (or at least performance enhancing drugs) was the “Green Goblin” character in the first Spiderman movie, played by Willem Dafoe. He administers performance-enhancing drugs to himself, and becomes (naturally) a supervillian. He kills all of his enemies (military types who pulled funding on his company, as well as board members who ousted him), then (in an absurd plot twist) decides to wreak havoc on New York City.

Don’t use steroids! You’ll become a supervillian!

Admittedly, these were all high-production quality movies (well, maybe with the exception of the HBO/Affleck one)…and I love B Movies. So I’ll leave you with “Deadly Little Secrets” which was a 2000 movie about a sports physician who gave designer steroids to athletes…and…fell into the trap of using them himself.

In a fit of roid rage, he killed one of his own athletes. Yes, that’s right…steroids made him homicidal. And what did he use to kill this athlete? You guessed it…he injected the athlete with an “overdose” of anabolic steroids. This becomes his preferred method for dispatching his enemies for the rest of the movie.

Finally, a movie, which combines my two favorite things (steroids and serial killers)…

Don’t believe me? Look the movie up.

So yeah, I was on Fox News last week, and wasn’t contacted about it…and the story was pretty one sided against steroids…but at least I wasn’t in a movie about them.



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