The lies behind Pumping Iron

Originally published at: The lies behind Pumping Iron | Boing Boing


More like Pumping Roids.


The bit where Arnold took an aside to credit Jim Beam bourbon for his success was especially suspect.


So this documentary is about as real as “reality TV”. Pumping Iron is just a precursor to this current plague on popular culture.

As for results, it’s simple to get the swole physique of a MCU hero. Just spend at least four hours of every day in the gym, eat the same bland and borderline starvation diet day-in and day-out, and maybe throw in some steroids. Easy and healthy!


Gamma radiation?


Sure, tell everyone the secret shortcut.


I’ve known a lot of cishet dudes who think that way. Ironic really, since few cishet women seem to find that kind of beefy, bulked up physique appealing. Seems like insecure dudes who strive for that kind of physical freakishness end up doing so more for the sake of other insecure dudes.


That’s pretty much the opposite of a bodybuilding diet 90% of the time. Right before a contest, sure, but until then you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who consumes more than a bodybuilder does.


Toxic bodybuilding culture is a major throughline of the right-wing manosphere, underpinning the views of MRAs, PUAs, incels, etc.


And those that do, tend to agree that it isn’t worth the cost of a dude who is obsessed with going to the gym and the general narcissism that is required to maintain said physique.


The assertion that Ferrigno might have won in 1975 if not for the documentary is pretty sketchy. Arnold won because he’s Arnold, he had won like 5 in a row at that point. Arnold even came back in 1980 and won when most people thought he definitely should not have, and he won because he was Arnold.

Though I doubt Ferrigno would have won under any circumstances that year, I do wonder if the film might have cut his bodybuilding career short, since he stopped competing for a long time after that competition. Without the documentary, he might have continued competing and, since Arnold had retired from bodybuilding, he could have won in 1976 or any time in the late 70s.

Interestingly, he came back in the early 90s, around age 40, and finished in the top ten in Mr. Olympia.


The craziest thing to me about Arnold is how his face looks muscular. I think that’s part of what puts him over the edge and made him a star. Some bodybuilders have a real disconnect between the aesthetic between their heads/faces and their bodies. For Arnold, it all fits together so it feels less bizarre and unnatural.


And cops for whom a commanding physique can be considered a matter of life or death. Roid rage is real but gets nowhere near the attention it deserves.


I think what’s pretty interesting is the bits in the video of Arnold explaining why he made shit up for the documentary. He basically says he was in part trying to play a better bad guy opposite Lou.

And also points out that in a body building competition the top 5 guys look the same, with performance being the deciding factor.

Who knows how genuinely true that actually was at the time. But that he could instantly glom onto and play to the dynamic the documentary makers were playing up. Ferrigno as underdog, Arnold as dickbag antagonist. Speaks pretty well to how he ended up sweeping for 6 years straight, and how he came out more the “star” of that particular film.

It’s not a coincidence that Schwarzenegger ended one of the biggest movie stars in the world not long after this. The guy is magnetic, and he’s a genuinely a great performer. Ferrigno is well known as a genuinely nice guy, and I’d say he’s a much more interesting person than Schwarzenegger. But he isn’t half the performer Arnold is.


I have a signed copy of Lou Ferrigno’s Book ( I think it was his Guide to Personal Power, Bodybuilding, and Fitness for Everyone). Disappointing that isn’t one of the steps!


I wonder how much of that was inspired by wrestling kayfabe.


I didn’t think about this until you said it, but this is very true. So many body builders are a triangle of cartoon muscle hung underneath a blob of dough-face, like a bad ‘90s shoop.


I’m not sure any of the principals here would necessarily be all that familiar.

Bodybuilding and the strong man thing have similar roots in travelling shows. So it wouldn’t surprise if there was a similar stock set-up there.

But Arnold had already been in several films at this point, and had moved to LA specifically to switch to acting from body building. So I’d probably credit it to that. You got a guy who’s made a few movies, is actively studying it, and is viewing the project as an opportunity to put out more than the few roles where he’d been cast as a hunk of meat.

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Yep. Can’t hide those glorious and super smexy set of muscles under a layer of fat that will give you endurance now, can we. /sarcasm

(I’m being exceedingly sarcastic, in case the tag didn’t give it away. I have a couple co-workers that were hardcore into crossfit, and a lot of their talk was macros and other dieting shenanigans.)


“Pumping Iron” came out of the toxic masculinity that also has spawned a hidden epidemic of body dysmorphia among men.