Updated: Dec 14, 2022
About a week ago I heard about Brian Johnson, better known as “The Liver King.” Brian Johnson was described by the Washington Post as a muscular and often shirtless TikTok star who gained millions of followers by promoting an “ancestral” diet of beef brains, bull testicles and raw animal livers. Sounds gross but Americans went through that phase where they ate Tide pods, so I guess this is progress.
Brian claims his diet takes people to optimal health and credited his physique to the diet alone, but turns out he is a huge (and I mean huge look at the photo above) phoney! A recent video by YouTuber More Plates More Dates exposed The Liver King for lying about steroid use and it’s blown up the gym lover internet.
Since the news has come out, Brian has released an apology showing remorse and talking about men’s mental health, but Brian’s image in an era where muscle dysmorphia in men is rising makes me question his authenticity as an advocate for men’s mental health.
Everyone is motivated by incentives whether that be social, moral or in economic. By lying, Brian not only got 1.7 million devout followers but was able to convert this into huge profits. It’s not that he lied that is the issue here, it’s the fact that he lied with extreme success and affected other lives in the process through misinformation.
Can you judge Brian?
Brian said in his video that he was rich before gaining his internet following, but because of his Liver King persona, Brian was reported to be making $100 million a year based on the claim he looked the way he did from eating liver only, but Brian was lying. He was spending approximately $15,000 a month on performance enhancing drugs or about the same as the salary of a doctor’s salary in The United States.
Do you judge Brian for doing this in a society where lying and doing what it takes is so highly rewarded? Some people on Instagram are already defending Brian and saying they appreciate his honesty. Other people are disgusted, hurt and angry on Reddit threads and on YouTube. He’s not an elite athlete, and he didn’t break any rules, but he lied he sold millions of dollars worth of products essentially stealing from others. I don’t think I can judge Brian, but his actions will have consequences.
A more extreme example of this is the Russian Doping scandal in the Netflix documentary Icarus. Grigory Rodchenkov who was the director of Russia's national anti-doping laboratory switched vials of urine in an act of unprecedented criminality at the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi. That year, Russia won 33 medals overall with 13 gold- an unprecedented performance. Those who played clean were robbed of titles they’ve worked their whole lives for, it’s unfair but the real cost were the thousands of lives lost after.
How the Russian doping scandal led to thousands of deaths
The Sochi games caused Putin’s dwindling popularity to shoot up like the baby boomer population curve. It allowed him to gain the public support needed to attack Ukraine, costing thousands of lives. Brian only convinced a lot of young men to eat an unbalanced diet and take supplements, but Grigory Rodchenkov only switched out urine. Our leaders are lying about things we will never find out about in order to win short-term games, and I am terrified of the consequences that will come with it.
I said, I don’t judge Brian, but I hope he is held accountable for his actions. Lies start small, and the more we let the little things go, the bigger they become.
I’ve learned that if something grabs my attention, positive or negative, it’s important to think critically about it. The anonymity and scale of the internet is scary. People lie, and because of money and power that can come with a platform of strangers, they’re incentivised to lie bigger, more often and feel less remorse. I believe the best in people, but when it comes to the exceptional performers in our society I don’t trust anyone anymore.
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