Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The War On The War On Drugs

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For decades, 1936's Reefer Madness has been a cult hit among drug users, thanks to its histrionic moralizing and hilariously over-the-top warnings about marijuana. It was hardly the last word in laughable anti-drug messages: From '50s health movies to recent television PSAs implying that marijuana makes teenagers pregnant, the anti-drug lobby has exaggerated the dangers of recreational drugs in ways that make the actual dangers more difficult to take seriously. But drug enthusiasts have generally lacked their own hyperbolic, narrow-minded, moralizing factoid films, at least until now: Cevin Soling's pro-drug sketch-comedy anthology The War On The War On Drugs amounts to a Reefer Madness for the straight-edge set.

From the ridiculous opening, in which policemen blow past a mugger tearing out his victim's heart and instead seize a man relaxing with a joint, The War On The War On Drugs declares its intentions as more comic than informative, and more smugly snide than comic. Some of its amateurishly composed and shot sketches are mere seconds long; others sprawl out like overextended Saturday Night Live sketches. Overall, the message is, as the opening-credits theme points out, "Drugs are cool / Drugs are cool / If you don't use drugs / Then you're a fool." Writer-director-producer-actor-composer-singer Soling claims to have spent a year researching the war on drugs before deciding to make a satire instead of a documentary, but he apparently threw most of his facts out the window in favor of absurdism, exaggeration, slander, and self-congratulatory humor, much of which parodies familiar anti-drug ads, or simply lists cool people who have used drugs (William Shakespeare, The Beatles, Queen Victoria) alongside uncool people who haven't (Danielle Steele, Air Supply, Strom Thurmond).

That kind of specious association prevails throughout The War On The War On Drugs, which among other things, holds up non-addicts Timothy McVey and Jeffrey Dahmer as if to prove that lack of drug use makes people kill; it also claims that the U.S. drops herbicide on Colombian coca fields in order to "keep [farmers'] stillborn children away from drugs." Not that these claims are meant to be taken seriously, mixed in as they are with anti-moose-attack warnings, a point-by-point comparison between DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) and the Hitler Youth, and an anti-cooties PSA. But the openly stated belief that drugs (all drugs) expand consciousness and promote freedom, while non-users are homicidal, uptight, nerdy, and/or evil, goes beyond preaching to the choir and well into spitting on everyone who isn't in the church. The War On The War On Drugs is fitfully entertaining, particularly in the segments that look more like they were made under the influence than about it, and its rapidly style-leaping satires ultimately make it feel like a Kentucky Fried Movie on, well, drugs. But like so much drug-related humor, it's best suited for viewers who happen to be really, really wasted.