________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 12 . . . . February 17, 2006


Shredded: What Would You Risk for the Perfect Body?

Douglas C. Taplin (Director). Richard Gaudio (Co-director & Writer). Jennifer Torrance (Producer). Graydon McCrea (Executive Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2005.
22 min., VHS or DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: C9105 134.

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

**** /4

This is a must-see video for all teens, and especially boys. Produced by the National Film Board, Shredded addresses the issue of the male image by talking to a group of teenage boys who think that the way to look 'good' is to look like action heroes who have 'shredded' abdomens and beefy arms.

     The boys discuss their objectives and quickly come to the realization that exercise is not enough to become as big as they want to be. Some take supplements (at great expense) and are tempted by the physical results that steroids offer. The camera follows them as they go to the gym, to retail fitness outlets, at home and at school.

     The boys analyze and rationalize their activities. Cedric likens his obsession with working out to anorexia or bulimia, in reverse. Allonzo drives himself to lower his body fat so girls will like him. Adil admits that, if he misses one day without working out, he feels fat and lethargic. Trainers and former weightlifters advise the boys that taking supplements is dangerous to their health and may ultimately leave them with lasting damage. Adil asserts that, if overdoing it or taking supplements is unhealthy, he has to find it out for himself.

     The boys all acknowledge, in one way or another, that the reason they have turned to the solitary activity of working out is because they felt isolated or rejected in their social circles. One was teased at school, another was dropped by a girlfriend. Through exercise, they think they can be in charge of their fate, and they can show the world how big and imposing they are. But as time passes and the huge muscles they were hoping for do not appear, it's clear that their problems with low self-esteem are not disappearing either.

     The teens interviewed in this video are typical. The boys in Shredded are not unique when they claim that girls are attracted to those boys who look strong. Yet all of the girls interviewed in the hallways at school say that what attracts them to a boy is his smile, his ability to talk about things and a pleasant personality. None is interested in big muscles as a starting point for a relationship.

     Shredded uses camera and production techniques that will appeal to the target age group. It would be a useful teaching tool for teens from ages 13 and up, but a swear word (used several times) is included, so teachers should vet it before showing it to younger teens.

Highly Recommended.

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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