Saturday, October 15, 2016

Short Film Spotlight: BIGNATTYDADDY

Welcome to another installment of SHORT FILM SPOTLIGHT, where we dive into the world of, you guessed it, short films, good or bad, and give you our thoughts. This week we take a look at a documentary about a fifteen year old steriod user: BIGNATTYDADDY.

Howdy fellow film freaks, Robert here. Steroids are a subject of constant controversy. Students in junior high and high school are warned against them, muscle mags praise the results they provide, and professional athletes that use them see their careers ended in disgrace (if they get caught). Maybe it's just an effect of more permissive attitudes to drug use, but it's interesting to me that we're starting to see documentaries that discuss steroid use in a more level, and sometimes even pro-leaning manner.

BIGNATTYDADDY (their use of caps, not mine) falls on the pro side of the debate. The documentary follows a fifteen year old body builder and unapologetic juicer who goes by the social media screen name "bignattydaddy" (hereafter BND, though his real name is Tyler Jackson). The "natty" in the middle of his handle is apparently short for "natural", as in he got ripped without pharmaceutical assistance. He says he uses the name "ironically", just to stoke the controversy.

Over the course of the seven minute film, which is mostly shots of him pumping iron, flexing in the mirror or eating, BND shares his thoughts on steroids and why he uses them. His first order of business is to dispel the myth that steroids are a magic muscle potion. "You still have to do the work, it doesn't just put muscle on your body." That's true enough, and a smart move from a debate standpoint. Starting with a factual statement lends credence to what you have to say later. He goes on to explain that the reason he uses steroids is because it makes him look good, or at least gets him closer to looking the way he wants to look. BND confesses to having body image issues, and body building is his way of dealing with them. There's even some straw-man moral relativism thrown in for good measure, when BND complains about people who use "pills and other stuff", presumably meaning recreational narcotics, who judge him for his steroid use.

Credit where it's due, BIGNATTYDADDY never comes off as propaganda. In the course of his commentary, BND never makes the "you can be just like me" claim. In fact, at one point BND states that he actively discourages other fifteen-year-olds from doing what he's doing. "Nobody my age should do this," he says, "I do it because I like it." Questions of hypocrisy aside, whether this claim is true or not is, of course, another matter, but for want of evidence to the contrary I'm prepared to extend the benefit of the doubt.

BIGNATTYDADDY is more a personal testimonial about experiences with steroids, which the film refers to using the slang term "gear", than it is an interjection into the steroid debate, and the personal nature of the film is what makes it compelling. This film feels like a deleted segment from a longer steroid use documentary. It would have been right at home in something like the 2008 documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster, and would make a good opener for 2013's Generation Iron, though that film is about competitive body building, and BND only briefly touches on his own competitive efforts.

Bignattydaddy's Instagram and Youtube accounts are, unfortunately, no more, though his spirit lives on in a hashtag by that name. Details for his disappearance are sketchy, but this being the Internet, opinions abound. All that remains of the 15-year-old juicehead on the interwebs is this short doc and an article about it on, and it's a good conversation starter. As someone who was there for the big anti-steroid scare of the early nineties, I'm glad work like this is available. There are always two sides to every story, I'm glad were finally starting to get at least some anecdotal evidence from the other side of this one. You can check out the film below.

Robert's Score: 7/10

BIGNATTYDADDY from John Merizalde on Vimeo.

If you have a short film or know of one you'd like to see featured on SHORT FILM SPOTLIGHT, please EMAIL me and don't forget to like and follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!!

No comments:

Post a Comment