Brian Johnson, or “King of the Liver” as millions know him Instagram And tik tak followers, built a fitness empire selling organ-based supplements and promoting what he calls the “ancestral” lifestyle of early humans. The meteoric rise of the Liver King is due to his extreme masculinity: he eats raw organs – everything from bull testicles to cow lungs – always goes without a shirt, wears a coarse beard and hat backwards, refers to himself in the third person and often says such catchphrases as “testicles, not vegetables”, “bring back what the modern world has missed” and “liver is king”. His abs are so defined that they blame him many in the fitness community receiving implants. Earlier this month, he was forced to admit he used steroids after having previously denied using the drug in numerous podcasts, videos and interviews.
Johnson created Liver King as a personality and brand to promote not only his many supplements, but also his fitness lifestyle and, more importantly, the path to masculinity. His “primal” ideal states that the modern world is deeply flawed and that people are mired in the chaos of technology. lose their testosteroneand becomes weak and submissive. Liver King’s solution is based on the unsubstantiated fantasies of a Paleolithic man: dominant, earner, muscular, unstoppable, fighting enemies and eating the organs of his prey in order to draw strength and power.
Liver King claims he wants to offer a solution to the “crisis of masculinity,” or what he calls “the problem of the modern well-groomed man“. “Men wander aimlessly through life,” he says. “They…today are weak and submissive pussies because they are not strong and they are not strong because hard times make strong men. And in today’s world, there is no need for hard times.” When his wife, Liver Queen, is shown, she is almost always subdued, embodying his idea of the perfect wife. liver king supports that he is not a misogynist, but says that “men were made specifically to fight … women are the opposite … more caring, compassionate and emotional.” Embedded in this model of masculinity is an outdated vision of gender dynamics that places men as hunters at the helm of the family while their queens quietly care for their brood.
Dr. Conor Heffernan, historian and lecturer in sociology at the University of Ulster, attributes Liver King to a recurring cultural trend in fitness culture—a trend that often intersects with masculine ideals. “In a way, Liver King is the politically correct Andrew Tate,” Hefferenan says. “He’s not as socially aggressive as Andrew Tate, but that’s what he teaches the masculine ideals of predominantly young men who are also focused on being muscular. I think it’s more like a modern iteration of a longer crisis of masculinity in fitness cultures.” It can be argued that Liver King’s content contributes to the development of muscle dysmorphia – a psychological disorder characterized by an obsessive desire for a beefy physique, also known as “bigorexia” – which is already on the rise, and experts are blaming social networks.
“The type of masculinity promoted in the bodybuilding community, and especially with the Liver King, has always been inherently right. [and] are quite dismissive of people who are considered physically or socially weaker, and are always quite limited in regards to emotions,” says Heffernan. “I think what’s different now in the modern age is that social media has mixed all these different communities together. Thus, Liver King is in some ways the pinnacle of far-right extremism in the US, alternative medicine and food culture in the US, conservative ideals of masculinity, meme culture in the US, the fitness industry and the sale of nutritional supplements, and the spread of anabolic steroids in American society.”
Liver King’s promotion of regressive masculine ideals is of concern, as is his promotion of a lifestyle and diet based on the behavior of our primitive ancestors. However, what he preaches is not new. When Liver King uses words like “biological,” “evolutionary,” and “apex predator” to fill his sermon with pseudoscientific verbosity, he’s using a long tradition. Paleo and the natural lifestyle have existed in various forms for many years, from the return to nature movements in Germany in the early 1900s to bodybuilders promoting raw milk diets in the 1960s.
Liver King’s principles are based on the idea that our bodies are at odds with today’s technological world. “The human body is admirably adapted to an environment that no longer exists.” Statements on the Liver King website. “Our modern world is completely unsuitable for the bodies we live in today. The vast majority of our health and happiness problems stem from this mismatch.”
But according to Dr. Marlene Zuk, a professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior at the University of Minnesota, these claims have no factual basis. Zouk wrote about what she calls ‘misguided nostalgia‘ for the Paleolithic era in her book PaleoFantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet, and How We Live. Zook explains that Liver King’s language about the modern world, while seemingly extreme, is actually quite common. “It often feels like something went wrong somewhere,” Zuk said, referring to popular meme which shows how humans evolve from chimpanzees to humans hunched over computers. But Zook says that this argument may be based on misconceptions or simplifications of evolution.
The clearest example of this can be found in the Liver King’s belief that we should return to the caveman diet. While it is likely that meat was originally eaten raw before the advent of cooking, paleoanthropologist Dr. Briana Pobiner says that “the earliest evidence for boiled meat (more specifically, boiled fish) dates back to about 780,000 years ago… But we don’t know the proportion of raw and cooked meat in the diet.” any early human species, really.” And, aside from the lack of evidence for Liver King’s claims, Zook highlights the potential dangers of eating large amounts of raw liver. “Eating large amounts of liver and other organ meats can lead to toxic levels of vitamin A. It can kill you.”
While studying the genetics and remains of early humans can show us some things about the biology of our ancestors, this information is descriptive rather than prescriptive. As Zuck explains, “I think a lot of the time people want something very specific, like, ‘Is it really good for me to eat raw internal organs?… Or what was the sleep pattern like in the Pleistocene? And the short answer is: we really don’t know.”
Nor should we necessarily learn lessons about how to live from existing indigenous cultures, like the ones visited by the Liver King. As much as Liver King celebrates the fantasy of the old way of life, his research modern indigenous cultures not informed by anthropological research methods. Rather, his visits to tribes and assessments of their cultures rely more on stereotyping and romanticization of indigenous peoples. As Dr. Heffernan points out, Liver King raises issues related to race by “co-opting ancestral ideas for a predominantly white audience”. [which] to paraphrase the harmful myth of the “noble savage”. The “noble savage” is a harmful stereotype that originated in the 17th century, representing the “primitive peoples” as a savage race, not destroyed by modern civilization, and keeping modern indigenous cultures in check. unreasonable and harmful ideal.
Liver King, like many other supplement manufacturers. fitness gurucompared to a seller of snake oil. His advertising of raw organs as a way to create an unrealistic drug-enhanced body is potentially dangerous. Liver King is not just selling his body – he is selling the vision of masculinity that young men are looking for.
But like so many things on social media, the lifestyle he’s selling is an illusion. His body is a product of steroids, not the consumption of raw organs. His persona is an act that has grown into a caricature of masculinity. This unrealistic and unattainable vision of masculinity creates a sense of inferiority in his young male followers. As Instagram user @natec_3 commented on the Liver King post: “This stigma of men being so tough and harsh and never crying is the reason why they hate their lives.” The harm caused by these ideals lies in the real crisis of masculinity.
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