I never bought into the idea of the “liberal media hype machine”, at least until I got older and started paying closer attention to the news. At which point I realized that “television news” is primarily about shock and awe, momentary fearmongering and creating unnecessary buzz, to keep viewers glued to the boob tube and increase ratings.
And I learned that one of the most potent tricks used by the media outlets is the “argument by pictures”.
What is a “picture argument”? A picture argument is when somebody shows some incredibly sad picture, with no statement of context, no facts compiled to explain and guide us through the picture; an emotional ejaculation all over your TV screen to make you feel guilty, or sad, or overjoyed. In a nutshell, a picture argument is an attempt to subvert your rational faculty by bypassing the need for facts and going directly to tugging on heartstrings.
On average, there is no credibility to the picture argument. It doesn’t really teach you anything or impart any substantial knowledge to the viewer. It is a conscious attempt to remove thought from the thinking process, while the powers-that-be manipulate your conscience into buying whatever load of crap they happen to be pedaling on that particular night.
My reason for bringing this up? I’m about to deliver a picture argument to you. And I want to be very clear up front on what I’m doing—not delivering a rational argument, simply conveying emotive material. Why would I do that, given the invalidity of a picture argument? Because, while it’s true that a picture doesn’t make a legitimate cogent argument for anything, it does convey ideas and feelings that can help lead one in the direction of rethinking their premises about certain things.
By now, most of my readers likely know that I am not a fan of the direction that physique competition has gone, specifically with the introduction of the bikini and men’s physique divisions, coupled with the ever-dwindling numbers of bodybuilders seen at bodybuilding shows.
To be clear, I don’t look down on those who compete in bikini and men’s physique. I don’t think they’re “losers”, or “shallow”, or “ruining the sport”. But I do disagree with what I think the divisions represent—pandering to the lowest common denominator, impatience, fleeting glory and reveling in mediocrity.
Again, this is my opinion on what the divisions represent culturally, what they represent in terms of the direction our society is going, the direction our values are changing, and the values we are moving away from while we embrace this “new school”.
What, specifically, am I talking about?
Here are a few of the pictures that inspired me, as a youth, to one day pursue bodybuilding:
Or the next generation:
And this is what we have now “progressed” towards, in my beloved hobby:
What does each represent? Again, to me, we have the heroic, the superhuman, the more-than-human, the amazing, unique, one-of-a-kind. And then, we have the endless sea of interchangeability, the cookie-cutter-“I-can-do-it-toos”, the smile-and-be-pretty clique.
In this life, we all choose what we chase as our inspiration. I’m not here to make an argument today, or even try to sway you. I’m sure many of you will think I’m an even bigger asshole than you already do. But at the end of the day, I will never be convinced that this:
…belong in the same universe, much less on the same stage. At least not in my world.
Some of us chase gods. Some of us worship what’s sacred. Some of us do not. To each their own. I’m not here to convince you today. I’m just here to share some pictures.
For what it’s worth.
-David A. Johnston