Motion picture has peculiar effect on people’s perception of reality. Many of the values and beliefs we have accepted for granted are direct result of strong propaganda originating from the entertainment industry. I often catch myself using phrases from popular sitcoms. Sometimes I do that even when I am alone, talking to myself. I am convinced that many others operate the same way. We all have voices of popular characters in our heads. This is what we get for allowing the cinema industry to dig deeper and deeper into our brains for extended periods of time.
When it comes to training, strong Hollywood pressure is still present. There are many action movies containing powerful training sequences, which often have tremendous influence on generations of people trying to get big and strong.
ROCKY – One Arm Push-Ups
The way I see it, Rocky is one of the better popular movies, but it’s still full of trivialities, truisms and misinformation. The first part was fine and had a somewhat decent plot, but with each successor things were simply going from bad to worse.
What made the movie extremely popular is definitely not the original plot. As an outsider, I can see two primary reasons for Rocky’s success: the timeless soundtrack written by Bill Conti and the training sequences.
Even if you dislike the movie, you will most likely feel goosebumps down your spine the first time you watch the training sequences of Rocky and listen to songs such as Going The Distance and Gonna Fly Now.
This experience is a perfect example how movie propaganda works. When people are hit on emotional level, they naturally open up and soak up movies’ hidden underlying messages, which are often political and mind control related. For example, in Rocky 4, I think, the character prepares to fight against the big bad Russian, Ivan Drago, who is on steroids and has an army of trainers to back him up while the good American is training in the mountains. The montage is once again very well made and hits the emotional system pretty hard. However, when you get emotional you are also letting your guard down for what appears to be Cold War propaganda.
As a result of various cinematic spills related to training, we have tons of kids following the exercise routines outlined in action movies like Rocky. I was one of those kids once. I remember trying to do one arm push-ups right after watching Rock I on a very old CRT TV. I don’t think I understood the whole movie, but I sure as hell got impressed by those one arm push-ups.
A few years later, I was preparing myself for a potential fight against another kid from the neighborhood. The preparation was rather sophisticated. I used an old carpet as a dummy which I boxed hard. Every time I was hitting the carpet I was imagining that I am…guess who? Rocky Balboa, of course. I was hitting thecarpet with a passion. The fight never took place, in case you are curious, but I was probably going to lose because of poor preparation and fear anyway.
Is cinema influence all that bad?
If movies get you in the gym, are they still bad?
Yes and no.
Starting training may be one of few good side effects, but not many people want to understand that movies are, before all, meant to play a number on you. The directors are using a little bit of magic and potentially dangerous sorcery to make things happen. They don’t exactly care what’s good for you. Showing you how to actually train is their last goal.
The training sequences are simply meant to take people’s breath away and make us feel larger than life without leaving the bedroom. If you realize all of this, you immediately become less prone to misinformation.
A trivial and yet accurate example can be found in the movie I am Legend where Will Smith performs partial behind the neck kipping pull-ups at home. I can tell you without a doubt that many people have replicated his workout. In case you don’t know behind the neck pull-ups are one of the few bad exercises you can do for your back. The actual benefits of behind the neck pull-ups are not exactly easy to determine. As far as I am concerned there are none. If you think you are going to get jacked and wide lats or upper back playing around with some partial behind the neck kipping pull-ups, you are definitely uneducated when it comes to training.
The steroid transformation
What makes training sequences even more effective are the attractive physiques of the actors. You don’t have to be big to do push-ups, but a muscular man exercising has way more visual impact than the wiry strength heroes.
Therefore, a lot of actors have to get ripped, big, strong and powerful for the complete “wow factor” to be present. As you can already guess, many are relying on anabolic steroids to get muscular bodies. You have to remember that in order for a movie to have a chance to make it big, it has to provide out of this world experience. Naturals are smaller than life or as big as life, whatever you chose, while steroid users are bigger than life and therefore more suitable for some roles.
At the end of the day, people should be free to do as they want with their own bodies. If someone wants to use steroids, that’s fine. What I don’t exactly admire, however, is how similar transformations create unrealistic expectations, and people get a wrong impression how getting big is accomplished. It’s not just kids that fall in the trap. Adults do so too everyday.
I used to work with a man who was a special effect editor or something like that. His job was to edit movie scenes, add effects and make the whole thing sexy and a complete commercial product ready to hit the shelves. Once he told me that if people actually knew how movies are made, they would be largely disappointed and shocked. We only see what they want us to see. The muscle size is always in your face while the pins are hidden from sight.
We have been developing our understanding of love, family, honor and many other values from movies. Therefore, the influence of the cinema industry on training is actually a minuscule detail of a much bigger project.
It’s not one bit surprising that people choose to blindly copy the training styles of their idols. After all, the very same individuals are supposed to be brave, honest, strong and overall good men and role models. The movie characters may appear to be those things, but the last time I checked characters can be whatever you want them to be.