So, Lance Armstrong admitted to doping in all of his races up to 2005, which was just over seven years ago. Hey, did you know the statute of limitations for drug-related charges is about seven years? Crazy coincidence!

But more importantly, did you know that Paramount and J.J. Abrams have announced plans for a Lance Armstrong movie? If this news had come to light before Oprah’s network-saving interview with Armstrong, such a movie would be easy to envision. It would be the triumphant, heartwarming story typical of any sports movie: Lance Armstrong is really good at riding bikes! Training montage! He races! He wins! Cancer! He struggles! He survives! He races again! He keeps on winning! By golly, he overcame adversity! Uh oh, the jealous rivals besmirch his name with drug allegations! Dramatic courtroom scene! Armstrong wins the case! Parallels between the court case, cancer, and cycling are made but they aren’t very subtle! He peddles into the sunset, his children trailing behind him, their training wheels crunching along the gravel.

Honestly, after reading a few posts about how athletes sometimes get away with this on sites like,,  Armstrong’s drug use does not come as a surprise, and the performance enhancing alone wouldn’t have changed the plot of that inevitable movie. However, with the drugs came lies – lies that ruined the lives of those he sued for trying to expose him, and lies that crushed his fans whom he inspired . . . These are the things that transform an easy story of triumph into a Shakespearean tragedy.

One of the first questions anyone has upon hearing the news of biographical films is: who’s playing the title character? Luckily for J.J. Abrams, there are a number of people who would fit the bill for Mr. Armstrong:
1. Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold would be the perfect man to play Lance Armstrong in the upcoming film, because he too betrayed all of America. I know what you’re thinking. He’s dead! Well, so are all of our dreams.
2. Kristen Stewart

After viewing Armstrong’s interview with Oprah, I believe that out of anyone, the Twilight actress would most capture Armstrong’s range of emotions. Her experience in the Saga has proved to audiences that she is more than capable of staring blankly, speaking in monotone, and straining to cry. The fact that she is, of course, a woman, would serve as a commentary on the clash between Armstrong’s public face and his true interiority.
3. A Raccoon

Like Armstrong, raccoons seem nice and cuddly, but in actuality they ruin lives. Just ask Old Dan and Little Ann from Where the Red Fern Grows. Also, raccoon hands are kind of like human hands. So just picture this: a reporter asks Armstrong if he has used performance-enhancing drugs, to which the raccoon shakes his head “No.” An intern arriving with coffee then distracts the reporter, and the raccoon wrings his hands deviously while cackling.
4. Ryan Gosling

It’ll probably be Ryan Gosling.
Of course, a good actor can’t save a bad movie (see: Gangster Squad), so the next question must be whether or not the Lance Armstrong story has any potential in the first place. The one thing that Oprah’s interview ensured is the decimation of the clichéd film that would-have-been. Lance Armstrong is no longer a story of victory; he is forevermore tethered to his own lies that launched a brand new legacy.

The most important thing to note is that Armstrong is a man of shades. He kind of sucks, but he’s not suddenly the embodiment of all evil. If anything, the embodiment of evil within Armstrong’s life was his cancer. Doesn’t everyone hate cancer? Don’t we all know someone who has succumbed to it? Because cancer is so objectively terrible in every way, there is a tendency to treat those who are battling it as if they are doing something righteous. The presence of cancer negates all misdoings, and anyone who has it is instantly forgiven for all they have ever done.

Think about all the media you’ve consumed. In a story, cancer is transformative. It takes a character from life to death, or it takes a character from life to new life. Take Breaking Bad, for example, where cancer drives Walter White into an even more carcinogenic life. And on the other hand, there is 50/50, where the cancer cleanses Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character’s life of its dead weight and strengthens his bonds to those who are worth having around. Beating cancer is akin to shedding demons, and as such, the survivor tends to be seen as a saint.

There have arisen few angels from the ashes of cancer as prominent as Lance Armstrong, whose rigorous battle with testicular cancer was well publicized. Millions of Livestrong halos sprouted on the wrists of the population at large, strengthening the public’s notion of the man’s glory. He was a cancer survivor, Tour de France champion, and humanitarian. And yet, we know now that that picture was a lie. The narrative weight of Armstrong’s victory over cancer is rendered meaningless by his own actions.

Which is not to say that the film wouldn’t have its own power. Indeed, Armstrong’s fight with the disease and his subsequent efforts with the Livestrong Foundation only elevate the sense of betrayal within those who idolized him. After all, how could a man who represented inspiration and triumph then turn around and reveal he had been lying every step of the way? And that’s what would make an interesting film: where the victory at the end isn’t the removal of his cancer, nor is it crossing the finish line of the Tour de France. It’s when he’s stripped of all his titles. It’s when he blankly, remorselessly admits not-quite-everything. It’s when everyone realizes that cancer and trophies could not create the American Hero. He seemed to descend upon us from the fluffy clouds of the Divine Kingdom, but eventually, he fell because of his own actions.

In the end, the Lance Armstrong story to be filmed isn’t a sports movie, nor is it a cancer movie. It’s a classic Shakespearean tragedy about a man whose tragic flaw is his own undoing. And what is that tragic flaw? That he believed his own symbolism.

It sounds like a downer though, so if you ever see this movie, you should probably be prepared to watch Air Bud right after it.

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