I thought this was a movie about Lance Armstrong.
But it’s not.
We knew Lance was doping because of the kerfuffle with that one test, the one that was thrown out. And the words of Greg LeMond, who said scientifically there was no way Lance could win, because of his inability to process oxygen. Yes, I followed this. LeMond was excoriated and Armstrong was venerated until…
It’s always until.
And there was some hype about this Oscar nominated documentary but it slid right off of me, even though I get all the publications it was hyped in. Because it’s hard to believe anything in a world of sales. It’s a symbiotic relationship between media and entertainment, it’s not hard news so we’ll fudge, say something is good so we can get access down the line. Kinda like the promoter has to take the bad band to get the good one.
But then a friend with no dog in this hunt, who saw the flick on a screener, a man who sees absolutely everything, is more qualified to vote than any member of AMPAS, told me it was his favorite movie of the year.
So I checked it out on Netflix.
Now despite the written word triumphing online, the truth is we live in a visual culture, people don’t believe something until they see it, and when they see “Icarus”…
You’re not exactly sure where the flick is going. Actually, the director himself was not exactly sure where the flick was going. He was an amateur bike racer who wondered if he doped whether his results would improve. He reached out to the doping bigwig at UCLA, who invented so many of the anti-doping tests, and this man said yes to involvement and then he said no and then he hooked him up with his Russian friend Grigory Rodchenkov, who immediately started to help the director over Skype.
And you think you’re watching a nobody on a lark, trying to prove a point that you already know, kinda like Morgan Spurlock in “Super Size Me.” But then the movie turns into something different, something very different, because this Russian gentleman…
Breaks the story of the Russian Olympic doping wide open.
And probably you’re O.D.’ed on the Olympics, you really don’t care, but this is not about the Olympics, but Russia.
And Russia is all over the news this week. Our President considers Vladimir Putin a friend, he thinks the Mueller investigation is much ado about nothing. And then you watch “Icarus” and your eyes bug out.
You see in America we’ve been sold a bill of goods, a myth, that we live in a democracy where truth wins out and honesty reigns and if you just put your nose to the grindstone it will all work out.
But if that was ever true, it’s not now.
Ignore the naysayers. ignore the Trumpers. Ignore the blowback. It’s our country to save, and it’s at risk.
You see these people lie. All the time. And since Trump got elected the “left wing” media calls him on it, but the right wing does not, and since so many only pay attention to the right wing they’ve got no idea what the truth is. That the tax cuts are not good for individuals. That Trump is tied-up financially with the Russians. And I’m willing to let Trump stay in office, but as he does our democracy is fading away. We’re becoming just like Russia.
Where Putin lies and kills his enemies and throws his hands up and says we’ve got it wrong, he’s honest and forthright and our accusations are inaccurate and we’re dreaming. And you watch him and you wonder, how far is this from our own country? Where the Ambassador to the Netherlands denies making comments that are already on tape?
But Putin is not that stupid.
So this Russian scientist… They arrest him and put him in a mental institution, but they release him to help with doping at Sochi. And they’re not satisfied with beating the test, they devise a way for the KGB, which is now called the FSB, to literally replace all the samples. So Russia wins more medals than ever and with the public’s surging support Putin invades Ukraine and the rest of the world does nothing about it.
And then when incontrovertible evidence comes in the IOC lets the Russians participate in Rio anyway.
So the scientist sneaks out of Russia. And his assets are stripped, his colleague is killed, his direct connection up the food chain, only three away from Putin, resigned and is under criminal investigation, and the man in charge was promoted to Deputy Prime Minister and Putin denies, denies, denies.
Kinda like it is in the United States today.
Don’t take my word for it. Don’t defend Trump or his right wing cronies, just watch this documentary.
We’re in search of greatness. In a world of plenty, we want very little. I’m combing Netflix and finding too much product which does not rivet me. But then I stumble on “Icarus” and my adrenaline starts to flow and my blood starts to boil and I wonder how in a country where everybody’s focused on celebrities nobody knows all this. It washes off of you when you see it printed endlessly in the paper. But when you watch the scientist involved, when you see the pols deny, when the scientist has to go into the witness protection program you sit up and get scared and wonder what you can do, how you can push back, you’re stunned that this is happening in the world.
But it is.
One person can make a difference. It hurt him financially, but Greg LeMond was right.
The Russian scientist, Grigory Rodchenkov, turned the sporting world upside down.
And it was all because a novice documentarian wanted to go faster on his bicycle.
You can make a difference, truly. That’s the story of America, that’s the story of the world, how one person can move mountains. If right is on their side.
But too many people believe in expedience, staying quiet so they can get ahead, even though lying never works out in the end.
This is not the fastest movie ever made. But it’s one of the most important of the year. All the attention is paid to the Hollywood wankers, with their worldwide productions of sci-fi fantasy, when it’s the work of relative nobodies that changes the course of history. Who cares if Steven Spielberg made “The Post,” that was then and this is now and Bryan Fogel’s achievement eclipses that of Hollywood’s most revered director. Because Fogel thought outside of the box, he never backed down, he pursued the story, not the cash.
He made a statement.
You should spend the time to watch it.
It will change your life.