Prescription Splints —
Veronica and I will usually watch a show or two on the computer right before bed. Recently, we’ve been watching Daria on Amazon, but we’re obviously always up for an MST3K, available for a select few episodes on Amazon and the rest on YouTube, notwithstanding our extensive tape and DVD collection.
So, I don’t really see a lot of commercials. But when I watch the news online, I often see the same commercials over and over, and the other day I saw one that was just too ironic not to mention. Remember this guy?
Dolvett Quince has built a reputation of being the least douchiest of The Biggest Dickweed trio of tyrannical trainers (no great honorific). Dolvett certainly likes to motivate contestants through classic intimidation techniques like screaming at contestants or walking aggressively toward them, but he generally reserves his personal shots for the BLMs, or Biggest Loser Moments. BLMs usually occur after a contestant’s dramatic episode, whether an injury or a fight or a failure to meet the trainer’s goal. The trainer then takes the contestant aside and analyzes them using the contestant’s psychological profile, which leads the contestant and viewers to believe some psychic “blockage” has been fixed and now they can lose weight. You know you’re watching a BLM for sure when it ends in a hug.
Now, I have no doubt in my mind that while Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper are Über-Assholes on the show, they probably aren’t the same caliber of asshole that they are on the show. They’re playing it up for an audience that really, really wants to see fat people humiliated and degraded as part of their fatty atonement. For Jillian and Bob, that’s their meal ticket, that’s their bread and butter. And while I’m certain they’re both still insufferable dickweeds in real life, they’re probably not nearly as committed to being terrible human beings on a day-to-day basis.
On the other hand, Dolvett’s amped-up TV persona is probably comparable Jillian’s natural state: insufferable dickweed. In real life, I get the feeling I might actually be able to hold a conversation with Dolvett without screaming in my head the entire time. But TV Dolvett is still a big problem. For instance, in episode 4, contestant Joe complains of a pain behind his knee while running on the treadmill. Being the professional trainer that he is, Dolvett ignores Joe’s pain and tells him to increase the speed. Finally, Joe gets off the treadmill and goes outside to stretch.
Rather than trust Joe to know when his body has reached its pain limit, Dolvett says, “Joe will take any opportunity to go relax. He’s not comfortable pushing himself. But not on my watch. You will push yourself. It’s the only way you’re going to be successful. Period.” Of course, they have a BLM where Dolvett lectures Joe on how he shouldn’t be complaining about injuries since he’s a former athlete.
Biggest Dickweed trainers LOVE to tell us how contestants who complain about pain are really just faking it or making excuses, and then they act shocked — SHOCKED — when a contestant suffers a serious injury as a result. In episode 8, Gina said she couldn’t run on the treadmill the way Dolvett wanted her to because of a pain in her foot. He gets pissed, and then see him say to the camera, “I don’t like quitters and I don’t like excuses. Gina gave me an excuse. I don’t condone that.” But the fact is that from the very first week, Gina was nursing her right foot. Fast forward to episode 11, and — surprise, surprise — Gina finally sprains her right foot. Later that episode, Gina still participates in the challenge: climb a fucking mountain.
Both the producers of The Biggest Dickweed and Dolvett Quince treat exercise-induced injuries as minor obstacles to glory. Contestants should just “push through the pain” and do whatever it takes to continue an intense, daily six-hour exercise regimen. Most real, professional trainers look at this shit and shake their damned heads because it’s probably the most irresponsible and unhealthy message to send people who are interested in becoming active.
So imagine my surprise when I saw the following commercial:
Let’s break this down, shall we?
We first see Dolvett hop down from a massive dumbell, telling us, “As a trainer, I see a lot of people missing workouts because of sports injuries.”
I’m gonna stop you right there, Dolvett. As a trainer, you’ve caused a lot of sports injuries by swapping genuine concern for physical pain and discomfort with BLMs and tough talk. Also, you’ve probably seen a lot of people missing workouts because research shows Biggest Dickweed discourages people from exercising. But, okay, injuries are bad, I follow you.
Next, we see this athletic guy who is in danger of being crushed by a shoe.
“Runner’s knee,” he says. Then we see him holding up his injury. “It’s right there.”
Then we meet a woman standing by a helipad.
“Shin splints,” she says. “It hurt right on this side.”These are the kind of injuries that Dolvett warns us will lead to missing workouts. But have no fear, Dolvett is here! “Injuries like these can come from the pounding your feet take,” he explains. “But I found something that helps.”
Before Dolvett tells us his solution to exercise-induced injuries, let me see if I can guess. Let’s take just one of the examples given, shin splints, and see if we can find any examples of how Dolvett has solved this problem professionally. But first, we should understand what shin splints are and how you get them.
The Mayo Clinic describes shin splints as “pain along or just behind the shinbone (tibia) — the large bone in the front of your lower leg.” The cause and treatment of shin splints are pretty straightforward:
Medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints occur during physical activity and result from too much force being placed on your shinbone and connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone… Most cases of shin splints can be treated with rest, ice and other self-care measures. Wearing proper footwear and modifying your exercise routine can help prevent shin splints from recurring.
The Mayo Clinic goes on to explain that shin splints can also be caused by the “terrible toos”: running too hard, too fast or for too long. The risk factors for developing shin splints include:
- You’re a runner, especially just beginning a running program
- You have flat feet or rigid arches, causing your feet to roll inward when running
- You increase the intensity of your workouts by doing more high-impact activities
- You play sports on hard surfaces, with sudden stops and starts
- You’re in military training
Because shin splints are so common among people who are just starting to run, every trainer knows this basic information… every trainer except Dolvett Quince, it seems.
In episode 3, Cate is running on the treadmill for Dolvett when she shrieks in pain.
We hear Cate’s voiceover say, “Today is the most difficult day I’ve had on the ranch. Already, my shins: screaming, on fire. I started out strong and now I’m tapering off. And I can feel it happening,” she laments. “Now I’m starting to shut down.”
At this point, The Mayo Clinic says self-care is the best care: rest and ice. To prevent shin splints from recurring, include proper footwear and modify your exercise routine. But Dolvett has a novel approach to Cate’s shin splints. “We’re going to keep going because you have yet to produce a number I’m happy with,” he says, as Cate says either “fuck” or “shit,” but we can’t tell which because her words are bleeped and her mouth is pixelated. Needless to say, Cate is pissed because she’s shooting fire out of her shins and Dolvett wants to push her harder. “I think the reason is what’s going on inside there and inside there,” he says, gesturing with his head.As I tried to explain to Dolvett at the time, the problem isn’t what’s going on inside her head and heart…
Rather than address the biomechanical problems Cate is experiencing, Cate goes outside for a BLM, where Dolvett works his magic. Below, in red text, is my recap of that BLM that immediately follows Cate’s shin splint episode.
We then get to see Dolvett saying to the camera, “This has nothing to do with weight on Cate’s body. It has everything to do with weight in her head. The way she views herself. My job isn’t to help Cate lose weight on that scale, my job is to help her lose weight in how she perceives herself.”
What the hell does that even mean? How does Dolvett suggest that Cate lose weight in how she perceives herself? Should she put her perception on a diet? Does The Biggest Loser have a program for obese perceptions?
So, Dolvett takes Cate out to the… um… tire farm.
Dolvett asks Cate, “Why are you crying?”
Keep in mind that up to this point, Cate has stopped working out because of shin pain, while Dolvett is the one who interprets her “quitting” as some kind of mental block. And between the time we saw them in the gym and their trip to the vulcanization fields, something changes. And that’s the beauty of TV — you can connect two unrelated scenes and make them seem related, and the audience is none the wiser.
“I’m just so mad at how I let myself get this bad,” Cate says, flagellating herself. “I hope it was worth it, every terrible, lazy day I had, every time I ate more than I should.”
“How’d you let yourself get this far?” Dolvett asks, trying to not look like a dick.
“Because I looked in the mirror and I didn’t see anything wrong,” Cate sobbed. “I thought I looked fine.”
Cut to pictures of Cate doing everything wrong.
“I had a trainer at home and I waste her time because she works so hard with me and I go and I eat it all away,” Cate cries, as a herd of tires grazes in the background.
“It’s called Fat Tuesday because I work with her on Tuesdays. I’m just undoing all that she does and it’s so badly wasted her time.”
Dolvett grins slightly, attempting sympathy.”Cate, you’re not wasting her time,” Dolvett reassures her. “You’re wasting your time. And you’re wasting your life.” And I hate you. I guess Dolvett had his sympathy circuits removed.
“That’s why I’m here,” Cate sniffs. “This is part of the process of healing. You’ve got to tear down to build it back up. Is that how this works?” Yeah, Dolvett, after you’re done ripping her apart, you’re going to put her back together, right?
“It’s time to start being honest with who you are,” Dolvett says, because he knows Cate so intimately. “I’m going to help you every step of the way.” Because he knows Cate so intimately. “But I’m going to need you to want this more than I want it for you.” And Dolvett wants it for you pretty bad, Cate. Him and Jillian have a wager going that the loser has to kiss Bob.
And now, with all the drama out of the way, Dolvett and Cate hug. The Biggest Loser hug says, “Yeah, I’m a dick to you, but I still care.”
Now I’m intrigued as to Dolvett’s solution for these thin people in the commercial. Is he going to ask them how they let themselves get this far? Do they just need reassurance that they’ve been wasting their lives? NOPE! They need Dr. Scholl’s magic foot pads!
“Dr. Scholl’s active series insoles with triple zone protection to help reduce pain from three sports injuries: runner’s knee, shin splints and plantar fasciitis,” Dolvett assures us.
Oh, NOW you tell us, Dolvett. All this time, I thought the intense pain in my shins was due to the fact that I was wasting my life. Turns out, I just have to buy some shit Dolvett’s hawking. In the end, we see the guy running on a treadmill and saying, “I can feel the difference. I’m a believer.” The woman does a high kick and says, “I’m back working out. I’m a believer.” Finally, we see Dolvett, holding the shoe pads and he says, “Try Dr. Scholl’s Active Series. I’m a believer.”
First of all, fuck Dolvett Quince for repeatedly ignoring contestants who report pain during one of the most intense and brutal workouts a person can do. Second of all, fuck Dolvett Quince for turning around and doing a commercial that essentially says “Don’t ignore exercise-induced pain… treat it!” And finally, fuck Dr. Scholl’s for choosing this hypocritical assclown to represent its product.
Dr. Scholl’s invented a product that helps people with exercise injuries? Great! That’s awesome. I hope they really work. But FUCK THEM the instant they hitch their promotional wagon to a man who exacerbates injuries by telling contestants and viewers to ignore their symptoms and push through the pain.
This is essentially the American attitude toward exercise-induced injuries writ large: if you’re thin and you complain about shin pain, let’s help you find a solution so that you can get back on your feet again; if you’re fat and you complain about shin pain, you’re making excuses because you’re a lazy, good-for-nothing slacker.
If that’s the message Dr. Scholl’s wants to send, go for it. But I recommend that we send our own message to Dr. Scholl’s. For example, on both the main Dr. Scholl’s Facebook page and the Dr. Scholl’s For Her Facebook page, they ask, “What are you doing to get a new perspective this week? Literally.” My response?
To get a new perspective this week, I’m watching old episodes of The Biggest Loser so I can understand why Dr. Scholl’s would hire Dolvett Quince as spokesperson for foot pads when he tells contestants with shin splints to “push through the pain.” Seems pretty hypocritical to me.
It seems Dr. Scholl’s may be the ones who need a change in perspective.