Drug Addiction In Requiem For a Dream

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Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream

In particular, there are two movies about heroin use that are worth being discussed. These are Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream. Despite the popular idea that these movies present heroin addiction in the worst possible light, they do, however, romanticize the idea of being a “junkie”. They successfully plant the thought in the audience’s minds that there is no greater pleasure in the world than being high on heroin (“Rated D for deadly”, 2017). Trainspotting is a black comedy drama that won the award for the Best Film in 1996 at the Seattle Film Festival. Interestingly, Ewan McGregor, who played the main role in Trainspotting, admitted he was tempted to try heroin in order to better understand the character from the inside (“Rated D for deadly”, 2017). Moreover, according to the main character in the movie, Mark Renton, “even multiplying your best orgasm by 1,000 will still not even come close to matching the glorious euphoria of a heroin high”. This catchy statement might be taken seriously by the viewers of this movie.

Requiem for a Dream is a psychological tragedy film. It is definitely guilty for portraying heroin addiction in a neutral, yet glorifying way. It gives the impression that heroin is an inevitable part of a happy life. The scene in this movie where two people in love share a high moment together is being presented as an ultimate way possible for a romantic relationship. This forbidden way of expressing and sharing feelings can be very mysterious and tempting. As mentioned earlier in this paper, the “trials and tribulations” of the main fictional characters in these pictures thrill the audience. Such scenes can greatly influence vulnerable viewers, and given they face similar difficulties in their lives too, they could incline towards experimenting with narcotics (Steiner, 2018).

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Drug addiction is not a normal part of any culture. It is something the society and government have been struggling with for decades. Nonetheless, movies give too much attention to this topic, hence normalizing it in order to have larger profits. However, normalization is not possible without availability (Parker et al., 2002, p.944). If the process of accepting drugs in everyday life has become a “normality” it means that these drugs are easily accessible and nobody regulates them, or perhaps fails to do so.

As already assessed, there is a correlation between the number of movies heroin appeared in and the usage of heroin in the population of the United States (“High Cinema: Drugs”, 2015). Both indicators have been growing since the 1990s. Interestingly, when there was the first rise of heroin popularity among drug users in the 1950s, films that started to follow the trends and portrayed anti-drug slogans had almost no educational importance and eventually had not changed the minds of users regarding heroin (Mold, 2007, p.279). Evidently, mass media portrayals against illicit drugs do not encourage any change in the behavior of people, and oppositely it can create a subliminal interest towards them. It is interesting to point out that the Motion Picture Production Code that existed until 1967 had a set of regulations that did not allow illegal drug trafficking scenes to appear in a movies, or, if it was inevitable for the sake of the plot, to follow precautions and be careful portraying the use of illegal drugs if needed (Shurlock, 1947, p.140-146). Unfortunately, nowadays, these moral guidelines do not exist anymore. Although it was replaced by the film-rating system, the threshold for what should not be presented has significantly shifted. All in all, there have been more than 153 movies depicting heroin released between 1990 and 2010 (“High Cinema: Drugs”, 2015).

The impact of the portrayals of this problem on TV has negative consequences to viewers, such as: normalization of hard drug use as a topic of everyday life, possible causation towards trying illicit drugs and continuance of substance taking. Moreover, as precedently emphasized, it creates a disregard towards law enforcement authorities.

Unluckily, it is much more important for the directors and producers to receive recognition and great revenue rather than to inform the audience about the boring downsides and scientific breakthroughs on a drug-related problem (Gerald, 2008, p.135).


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