Sometimes I wonder if I’m an obnoxious student. Rather than just fill out a notebook for the journal requirement of my Drug Court seminar, I suggested that I do my entries as blog posts. As the project course for the Ethics, History, and Public Policy, Drug Courts will allow me to collaborate on a paper analyzing the relationship of the drug courts to the broader criminal justice system. Ok, on with the post.
Since beginning this course, I have been seeing–and questioning–how drug use is portrayed in the media I consume. This is important because how drug use/abuse/addiction is portrayed in the media affects how voters perceive it, and therefore the kinds of legislation they support. This scene in Kick Ass really irked me because it does not fit with the empirical vision of drug culture about which we’ve been learning (WARNING: it has gory violence, sexuality, drug-use, swearing, and an 11-year-old girl truly kicking butt:
What I love about Kick Ass, other than Hit Girl being an incredible character, is how it spends 90% of its time showing how unreasonable superheroing would be in the real world, and 10% showing incredible fight scenes. But my favorite hero in Kick Ass is the internet. The main character (the one in the green with the tiny taser) uses MySpace to connect with people who need his help, and becomes a web celebrity after a guy uses a cellphone to film him protecting a downed man in a fight.
But this scene with drug users is everything the movie isn’t: stereotypical, unquestioning, lame. What is new about having an African-American drug dealer with a white girlfriend in the projects, who is inarticulate, extremely violent, and has loyal minions? How does that choice push the audience in they way Hit Girl does, or challenge our perceptions like Big Daddy does? It’s a huge plate of lame, and perpetuates an incomplete view of the how, where, who and why of American drug culture.
“If in the after life there is not music, we will have to import it.”–Doménico Cieri Estrada