Mar 31 2006
Remember the 2003 Tour? When an IMAX film crew (search “Hamilton”) followed Tyler Hamilton around? Well, Cyclingnews finally got a review of the finished product out. Though I wouldn’t put too much stock in their evaluation of the piece (they’re running ads for the feature on their homepage – though they did have the good sense not to run the ad side-by-side with the review, as Daily Peloton did here), they did get some interesting comments from the filmmakers on their decision to change the movie’s focus onto Jimmy Caspar and Baden Cooke:
“With the movie barely into the editing phase in late 2004, the decision was made that a doping scandal could not co-opt the focus of the film. Director Silleck did everything he could to diffuse pressures from the film’s sponsors, hoping that Hamilton would be exonerated, but ultimately had to inform the rider that the film would be taking a new direction.
‘It was a corporate decision, pure and simple,’ Silleck told Cyclingnews when asked about the change of plan. ‘We simply could not have this film become a story about drugs.'”
Overlooking the obvious question about what you were doing during the year-and-a-quarter between the end of the 2003 Tdf and Tyler’s positive test in the ’04 Vuelta, how is it that your documentary on the ’03 Tour could be affected by events that happened over a year later? If you’re so worried about drugs, why not simply just not mention them? It shouldn’t be too hard becasue #1)blood doping doesn’t involve drugs and #2)positive dope tests played no meaningful part in the race you filmed. But, assuming that you lack the skills to examine the events of past outside the lens of the present, if the focus of your film was on the body’s response to pain, shouldn’t blood doping still be irrelevant?
For the sake of argument, let’s say that Tyler was doping in ’03, despite not being under the tutelage of one Dr. Luigi Cecchini, nor riding for a Phonak squad that’s been riddled with drug problems; how would elevated cell counts affect how he felt pain? It’s not like extra red blood cells (or, more accurately, the highest legal amounts of red blood cells) make the human body hurt less. Nor do they dull the pain the body endures, nor raise the body’s tolerance to that pain. Though he might be going a lot faster when the lactate comes, it’s still going to burn, and he’s still going to have grit his teeth and suck it up with every agonizing turn of the crank.
But no, I guess your mission to educate wasn’t so powerful that you could be bothered to explain this to the masses. “Yes, he did cheat later, and he might even have been cheating then, but still, completing the race with a broken collarbone is an amazing feat” would have been too complicated a message. I mean, there’s a whole movement that basically says once an athlete tests positive, they are worthless; best not to challenge the poorly-though out opinions of large numbers of people. After all, why would anyone going to see an IMAX movie, in a science museum, come in with any expectation of learning something new, or maybe even of changing their minds?
Yes, I was being too idealistic earlier; the filmmakers are right to say that the unwashed clots of Americans who watch their movie could never see things in anything but stark, impenetrable black, and dazzling, spotless white. It’s just a shame I’m citizen of such a stupid country, because now I’m gonna drop 15 bucks for museum entry and another 9 for the Omni just to watch a 50-minute flick about a perennial lanterne rouge and a flash-in-the-pan maillot vert, that looks like it was edited by a drunken samurai and a roll of Scotch Tape, all because 90% of the initial footage was about a guy who got caught doping a year after the events of the film took place.
Maybe someday, after Bush is out of the White House, you’ll have the balls to release some sort of “select audiences” version of Wired to Win, that you’ll play in IMAX theaters way at the tippie-top of ivory towers. Then you’ll be able to include all that great footage you took of Tyler, confident in the fact that all the viewers will be smart enough to see things in a wonderful spectrum of tints and shades, so you can rest assured that no one will have a negative opinion of you, or your film, or your film’s sponsors. Then afterwards we can all sit in a circle, hold hands, sing “Kumbaya”, get baked off the hash pipe, and live happily ever after.