Many were shocked when Lance Armstrong (finally) admitted to his use of steroids, which assisted in his 7 Tour Du France wins. Stripped of his titles, dumped by his multi-million dollar sponsorships, banned from all World Anti-Doping Agency governed sports, and literally taken out of the record books for all 7 years he won, most expected him to experience a deep shame and regret over his actions. Most of us, upon revealing our deepest secrets, and the lies that we chose to live, might respond in that way, but Lance Armstrong is a different kind of person, and perhaps doesn't function in the same capacity.
Oscar winning documentary film maker Alex Gibney tackles another societal dysfunction, in his attempt to tell the story of why one of sporting world's most famous names, would come out to admit his fraud to the world. It's an absolutely spellbinding story, and doesn't tip-toe around the subject. Rather, it opens up at his most publicly shameful moments, when he told Oprah Winfrey on national television (in yes / no fashion) that he had been cheating the whole time he was winning one of the most grueling competitions in the world. But there is a great deal more to this story, and Gibney delves into some of the bigger problems surrounding the sport, his issues with bullying team mates, the nature of cheating, and most importantly: Why Armstrong acts the way he does.
The American Psychiatric Association defines the narcissistic personality as:
"In which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and/or vanity, mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and often others."
Whenever I think of this personality, a few names come to mind (Donald Trump, and Kanye West are just a few), but I think Lance Armstrong fits this description well. I don't particularly think that he, and others who share these traits, are necessarily terrible people, but it does make them capable of some truly awful actions. It's a remarkable study into this type of personality. Armstrong admits to wrong-doings, but never feels remorse for his actions. It's remarkable how he treats his own teammates throughout his career, and forces us to see him as a very driven man, yet at the same time, one capable of very criminal action.
At this time, in 2016, Armstrong faces a 100 million dollar lawsuit brought forth by the federal government for defrauding the U.S. Postal service (the main sponsor during his tours). It's expected to ruin him financially, but many don't expect a decision requiring a full penalty. Perhaps his actions do have consequences, but he's apt not to let that bother him. That being said, Alex Gibney narrates and describes the situation facing him and sport of cycling rather well. I would recommend this documentary to anyone who was interested in Armstrong as a competitor, but also to really let the depth of his actions sink in with the viewer.
One of Gibney's best, and more personal documentaries.