by Christian Duque
The sport of bodybuilding is in a place right now where the silliest things can amount to groundbreaking media news. And I believe that a reason for this phenomenon is the fact that there are no longer websites or magazines with editorial boards. There aren’t several people that need to gather in a room a month in advance and decide what stories warrant coverage and what stories do not.
The reality of the matter is we have long departed from the days of full-fledged companies and teams to single person media outlets, where one person finds the story, reviews it, researches it, and then plays editorial board all at the same time. There really is no objectivity because unless the person in question suffers from multi personality disorder, then it’s the same person that’s doing everything and that is the only person held accountable in the end. This is great for those that want to report the news unfiltered and/or do not want to feel any constraints on their creativity or their individuality.
On the flipside, it is also a recipe for disaster, as many times, very popular outlets are putting out stories that quite frankly don’t even rise to the level of ridiculousness. And this brings us to the topic of today’s article, here, at Iron Magazine. Normally we’d never look twice at a story like this but because the fitness press took the ball and ran with it, we must cover it as our readers will expect us to lend commentary.
What’s so ridiculous that it’s dominated the sport’s social media for the last 24 hours? It is a photo where photoshop is alleged to have been used, but not by the athlete, rather, by the fan who originally posted the shot. All the athlete did was re-post it, but it put him in the middle of a media frenzy that’s made it several times around the world already. And this is attributable to the fact that many of the most popular sites that you go to for news are really nothing more than a guy sitting in his garage, typing away, and posting stories as quickly as he or she can. And that’s another thing, speed trumps fact-checking. The bodybuilding press has fallen so many rungs from the days of Peter McGough and Robert Kennedy that it’s become the new normal. Nowadays it’s a race to who breaks a story first. It’s become one drag race after the next.
A few sites like Evolution Of Bodybuilding, StrengthAddicts, and a couple others knew right away that the athlete in question, Michael Krizo, had clean hands in the matter. For starters this wasn’t a stage shot or a photoshoot. The shot also didn’t originate from the bodybuilder’s social media platform. It was clearly an expo booth type pic – like so many that come out of events like it. And what’s more is that the fan assured countless outlets that he didn’t photoshop the photo either.
Sometimes a leg might look smaller than the other, an arm might like look like a toothpick, or someone who’s really big can look really small. This is just the nature of the game when it comes to photos, lighting, and angles. Even a total newbie photographer could tell you as much, but when it comes to stirring up drama many of the most popular websites and channels online can’t just walk away from something like this. If they can create a situation that puts the competitor on the defensive and even better, if they can antagonize said athlete, it’s guaranteed hits. This is because traffic is the name of the game.
Journalism in the muscle world hasn’t been about good writing in a long, long time. Sponsors also don’t pay for that either. I can’t sit here and pen an article casting all media outlets in a bad light. The truth of the matter is that a lot what’s published is what the fans want.
Fortunately, Iron Magazine has always catered to the purists and we’re very lucky we have readers that enjoy the type of reporting that made bodybuilding great. Do we have people looking for the next tabloid story? Sure, because that’s fun reading. That’s why you’ll see doctors, lawyers, and college professors reading The Globe or The National Enquirer as the cashier rings up their groceries. And every so often, they might throw a paper like that in their order. It’s low IQ, trashy, and largely bunk reading, but it’s fun. I totally get it. So of course some of our readers like to read stuff like that too, but that’s not why they log onto our site. Moreover, even today, when we’re weighing in on an incredibly stupid news story such as this, we’re still not fanning the flames. If anything we’re providing a proper commentary that puts this story to bed. This wouldn’t have happened if the person in question wasn’t famous. Believe that!
The fact of the matter is that Michael Krizo dominated “the other IFBB” and in his first Mr. Olympia appearance, in 2022, placed 12th. That’s a very respectable placing for a guy that a lot of fans didn’t even think would qualify. They had no reason not to take him seriously, but let’s just say that a lot of his Pro League counterparts thought he was all talk and that he’d never make the switch. When he did in fact cross over and started competing, they soon realized that they were dealing with a credible threat. The fact he shut so many people up and has gained such a strong international following is also a big part of why so many media outlets sprang into action with this story. They had to have known this was utter trash, but they saw the hits it could get, and they ran with it.
What’s very fitting about this story, however, is that Krizo didn’t get angry. He made a joke out of it and laughed the whole time. And that’s why this story ran its course as quickly as it did. The sites and channels were able to get some hits off of it, but had Krizo been a hothead and started cursing at everyone, they might have had content for the next couple of weeks. Great job, Michael! Way to deal with the clickbaiters and drama queens and good for you for not letting trivial nonsense mess with your mojo.
If only more pro’s took a page from Michael Krizo’s playbook then the sport would be so much more fun to watch. So many fitness celebs take themselves way too seriously when in reality it’s all about lifting weights, signing autographs, and seeing the world. Some shows you win and other shows you cut your teeth with. The point is that you live life to the fullest. If a bunch of websites want to accuse you of altering your photos, let them have fun with that. At the end of the day there’s no such thing as bad press in a world that’s all about vanity and excess. If haters want to hate, just make sure they spell your name right. It’s all hits and it’s all buzz. It doesn’t really mean anything so why get upset? Plus, it’s not like getting upset is going to make them stop. If anything, getting upset is going to make them want to cover you more and more. It’s playground sandbox 101.
This is where bodybuilding is and who knows where it’ll be in another 10, 20, or 30 years. Because if you think things are wacky now, just think about it down the road. Social media is just the beginning.