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The Liver King: a tale of raw meat and lies

| Monday, December 5, 2022

The year is 5000 B.C. You just completed a successful three-day hunt. You speared the mastodon to death and harvested its organs. Your personal chef prepared for you a feast of grilled ribeye steaks, raw liver, testicles, and bone marrow. Before you settle into your makeshift straw bed inside the cave, you inject yourself with the daily doses of long argine 3-IGF-1, CJC-1295, ibutamoren, omnitrope, testosterone cypionate, nandrolone decanoate, and winstrol. The copious supply of anabolic steroids, which accounts for a monthly expense of nearly $12,000, is necessary to have single digit body fat year-round and to be primal. This is how our ancient ancestors lived, right? They lived off the land.

Let me introduce you to the Liver King and the ancestral life he purports. Brian Johnson, or more commonly known by his internet personality Liver King, has amassed millions of followers and views on social media platforms like Instagram and Tiktok where he produces videos of himself living an “ancestral” life. Most notable videos include his eating raw organs, primarily liver, hence the name, and performing “simulated hunts,” which entails intense resistance and cardio training. The Liver King himself is a physical specimen; measuring up at 5-foot-7, the 190 pound 45-year-old is incredibly muscular, akin to that a bodybuilder and maintains single digit body fat percentage year around. He credits his physique solely to the consumption of raw organs and working out. Liver King has subjected himself a life that he interprets our common ancestors lived, one where modern technologies and habits did not exist. He has rejected “modern constructs” such as eating vegetables, bathing and wearing a shirt. Essentially, the Liver King is a self-advertisement of a fictional ancestral lifestyle. I forgot to add that he collects a fortune from revenue from his Ancestral Supplement business, which sells organ-based protein powders and vitamins. See the connection?

On social media, he has received criticism over his tendency only to disclose information about eating liver, often in a manner of diversion, and to omit talk of steroid use. Nevertheless, it is blatantly obvious that he is unnatural. Recently, leaked emails from his coach confirm that Johnson has extensively used PEDs, $12,000 per month worth. Members in the fitness community on YouTube claim that Johnson’s lie about being natural has misled a large contingent of people, who believed they could achieve a similar physique by simply following the ancestral lifestyle. In an apology video, Johnson claims that his decision to take anabolic steroids stems from a desire to overcome depression caused by low-testosterone levels and body dysmorphia. 

The question that then arises is “Why should I care about some meathead internet caveman with a penchant for raw meat?” I asked myself that same question while writing this. However, the relevance lies in the relationship between personal insecurities and social media. Everyone has self-esteem issues, and celebrities are no exception. Although I, the United States Food and Drug Administration and the Center for Disease Control univocally agree that the ancestral diet is dangerous, I will concede that Liver King’s situation ought to be viewed in a different light. Johnson suffers from severe self-image issues, and he masks them under the guise of a machismo persona, one that seems larger than life. He assumes an exaggerated character bearing the consummate traits, in which he himself is insufficient. Such a course of action is consistent with other social media figures like wannabe-playboy Dan Bilzerian and the Bugatti-driving Top G Andrew Tate. This is nothing new. The Liver King claims that he wants his audience to live their best possible lives, a righteous wish; however, the means of achieving is obviously not through buying overpriced animal organ supplements and refusing to shower. The truth to living one’s best possible life is something more elusive. While I cannot verify the validity of Liver King’s claim, the fact that he generates massive profits off his social media presence and business leads me to think otherwise. 

Liver King’s example compels me to consider how common people have subscribed to a similar course of action. Personal Instagram accounts are curated to depict a deliberately desirable persona. As one might imagine, only the best pictures make the cut: the ones with the best lighting, the best caption and the best outfits. The repetition of depicting the happiest moments creates a thread of continuity, in which “best” characterizes one’s whole life. In my personal experience, seeing people smiling and smiling and constantly “air push-uping” impressed on me the questions: “Do these people ever stop smiling? Do they ever metaphorically sit and watch the game? Do they ever feel sadness? Do they feel anxiety? Hunger? Thirst? Or do they exist only as digital pixels on my smartphone?” Perhaps, it happens that the common people assume an exaggerated character, one who lives an ideal life, bearing the highest degree of happiness, a possibly deficient quality. Anyone who has followed this course of action, including myself, has, in a sense, dehumanized themselves by choosing only to disclose the best elements of the human experience and omitting the worst ones. Now, I am not calling to post content of yourselves vigorously crying over physics homework for the sake of humanity, but just be cognizant of the relationship between insecurities and social media. Quite frankly, there will be no resolution to this issue; it will continue unabated unless by some miracle, social media ceases to exist. 

As if I were giving cliché parental advice, I say, “Do not believe everything you see on the internet.” Refuting the Liver King situation was not very difficult. There is a seriously “roided-out” man trying to tell me to eat raw organs for breakfast. Ignored! However, there will inevitably be another social media influencer selling a snake oil-esque idea, perhaps in a more cunning, convincing manner. Keep an eye out, primals! Liver writer Jonah, out!

Jonah Tran is a first-year at Notre Dame double majoring in Finance and Economics and minoring in Classics. Although fully embracing the notorious title of a “Menbroza,” he prides himself on being an Educated Young Southern Gentleman. You can contact Jonah by email at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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