10 July 2009

Movie Review: Meth

I decided to skip some classics I've been meaning to watch and decided to watch this as I reorganized my office. I am very much an advocate for people who use drugs to tell their stories to others. This is in opposition to America's long standing "war against drugs" where fear and purposeful ignorance reign. I believe that substances in drugs are like gods or demons that are highly affective and numinous entities. Every person's experience of a god or demon is different (although collectively some generalities can be made).

I have never tried crystallized methamphetamine (shabu) but I have talked with a number of people that have been addicted to it. The experience is the same, the epinephrine-like response of the reptilian part of the brain over powers everything and life is turned into a simple series of fight-or-flight stimulae. (I'm generalizing their experiences of course.) In other words, people seem to have the energy to carry on three different jobs and never sleep or party and have sex non-stop. Yet it turns into a compulsion since you have two choices: fight or flight. (In my god/demon structure, this would be the god of survival.) Work is related to survival as is the urge to have sex.

Now, Meth interviews people who stopped using or struggling with their addiction in the gay community. The director seems to have gone to some effort to present people and their experience in a way where you could empathize with the people -- well except for the one guy who is still a total addict and was hyperactive and rambling in fast speech. Their stories is what are needed to help people make the decision not to use. People need to hear from others how great it is and then how awful it gets (or in the case of the addict, how great he says it is as you see how awful it is around it).

The closest domestic Philippine film in recent years that I have seen that in any way addresses the drug issue was the quasi-indie Where is Francis? And that seemed to be more like Weekend At Bernie's meets what its like to be a druggie and have your druggie friend die and then try to hide the fact from others. There was a part in Meth that reminded me of this time my cousin and his friend drove me around Makati for a few hours and it wasn't until we got back to his house that it occurred to me that they were totally high out of the minds and we had been driving in circles for a few hours (or maybe I realized we had been driving in circles first?)

I also liked how the director included a lengthy discussion about how the circuit-dance culture and gym-bunny urban gay subculture in the U.S. is conducive to methamphetamine addiction (to the point where I'd almost remark, naturally). A documentary could be done just on the shadow aspects of the urban male American gay subculture yet he was able to bring it in without it taking over the entire film.

Drug addiction is a complex social question that needs more education and explication and discussion of drug use experience not less. The movie makes a contribution towards that.

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