Thursday, January 17, 2008

War on Drugs:
an update

Am I right to assume that this woman is supposed to look like she just slammed some pretty good heroin?

Before our government declared war on Terror, it threw lots of money at finding and confiscating mind-altering substances. For most of us, this conceptual war seems like a relic from the '80s, but it was initiated by Nixon in 1971. Apparently, when people started to think for themselves about how they would, or would not, participate in mainstream U.S. culture (as was the case with 1960s counterculture), Nixon blamed drugs.

After all, who in their sober mind would not want to live the American Dream: a house in the suburbs, a wife with an Old Fashioned in hand at the end of every day of your 40 hour week -- only 32 more years till retirement! In your free time golf a little, wife-y can shop at the mall and raise a couple of thankless offspring who won't take care of you later on. Instead, you'll go to the Old Folks' Home until it's all over. If it took psychedelics to clue people in to the drab futility of modern existence, well, that just shows you how well everyone had been brainwashed by "the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism" (to accurately if inappropriately quote Max Weber).

Meanwhile, Timothy Leary is telling everyone to "turn on, tune in, and drop out," but the government couldn't let that happen -- there were taxes to be collected. If the Merry Pranksters had declared Nixon the winner of one of their surprise trips, things might have been very different. But they didn't, and he conjured up his War with Leary and the Pranksters heading the list of Most Wanted.

At some point the government did succeed in putting a serious lid on the availability of coke, LSD, heroin, and so on. It doesn't take a mad scientist to hypothesize that -- in a true display of human ingenuity -- this was probably when huffing was popularized and crystal meth invented. You can take drugs from the people, but you can't take the people from drugs. Besides, the biggest pushers (pharmaceutical drug companies) were never pursued, so people of all ages are addicted to painkillers, anti-depressants, ADD meds -- you name it.

The government doesn't talk too much about the War on Drugs anymore -- they have more pressing matters at hand. But make no mistake, they're still spending billions of dollars on it. And peddlers of clothing and perfume are left to use images of drug-induced euphoria to seduce us.

I hope they gave this model real drugs, because you'd need something good to endure lying almost naked on all that dry grass. I bet she was itchy for the rest of the day -- or maybe the drug-like Promise of Fame was enough to ease her pain.

But here's the real question: if these images are seductive because we're secretly bored as hell and dissatisfied with life in general, why would we waste money on perfume or a slip? Why not buy what they're really selling?

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