Once upon a time in America, people endured pain and adjusted to the changing moods that mark human nature without an endless variety of pharmaceuticals served up by drug companies. Popular musicians performed without snorting cocaine and shooting heroin. Teens partied without smoking pot. College students drank without bingeing from Thursday night until Monday morning. Upper East Side rich kids, Beverly Hills brats, and gays socialized without club drugs. Tobacco didn’t kill 450,000 people and make another 8.6 million people seriously ill each year. Crack cocaine didn’t turn poor urban neighborhoods into killing fields. Rural garages weren’t moonlighting as manufacturing plants for crystal meth. Athletes performed without bulking up on steroids. Young women kept their weight down without smoking. Most all of us stayed awake without amphetamines and got to sleep without sedatives. Rambunctious children were disciplined, not drugged, into correct behavior. (Califano 9)
The use of medications and drugs of all kinds have been controversial in America since the very beginning of the country’s emergence. And this controversy does not just deal with illegal drugs, although that is a huge part of it, it also deals with legal drugs, the ones the government deems safe for everyone to use. People approach the issue from all sides of the spectrum including people who think it is the best thing that has happened to America since its existence to those who think all our medical advances is what is demoralizing to our society and everything in between.
The director Darren Aronofsky, who is famous for renowned films such as Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan, also fits on this spectrum, although not somewhere in the middle. In this paper, I argue that although Aronofsky’s films may have several themes intricately woven throughout, one reoccurring theme is his anti-drug and anti-medicine standpoint. A few critics claim that his movies are not even focused on such issues, but I disagree. A director does not simply involve drug use as a key element into each one of his films unless he has a message to get across. He believes the mind should be left untainted, and that maiming the brain with medical substitutes is incredibly unhealthy and unethical. Darren Aronofsky, in each of his movies, portrays his stance against all drugs, both legal and illegal, for the reason of why people turn to drug use in the first place. There is a driving force in the world today that is causing people to turn to drugs, but Aronofsky is wrongly addressing the drugs instead of the cause.
The Buzz On Drugs
Before exploring Aronofsky’s films, the facts about drugs should be presented. “Drugs are chemical substances which, by interaction with biological targets, can alter the biochemical systems of the body” (Mottram 1). His movies involve many different types of drugs, and it is important to understand how each of them work. Some of the drugs involved are found in the amphetamine, opioid, methadone, and hallucinogen families. By understanding how each one affects the human body, we can get a better insight into Aronofsky’s films and their meanings behind them. We can also figure out why Aronofsky chooses these drugs in particular.
Let’s first explore the amphetamine family. Under this heading of amphetamines, other sub-headings include Benzedrine, methamphetamine, and methylphenidate (commonly known as Ritalin). Amphetamines were first introduced to the medical scene in the early twentieth century. Medical physicians today do not refer to amphetamines as a narcotic; they prescribe them similarly as any other drug. It is used medically for weight control, narcolepsy, performance enhancement, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Amphetamines are taken orally, snorted, or injected directly into the veins. Some of the street names for these drugs include “speed” and “ice”, which are both more...
Cited: Califano, Joseph A. High Society: How Substance Abuse Ravages America and What to do About It. 1st Ed. New York: Public Affairs, 2007. Print.
Dodgen, Charles E., and W. Michael Shea. Substance Use Disorders: Assessment and
Treatment. London: Academic Press, 2000. Print.
Espejo, Roman. Drug Abuse: Current Controversies. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002. Print.
Mottram, David R. Drugs in Sport. 4th Edition. New York: Routledge, 2005. Print.
Walsh, Keri. “Why Does Mickey Rourke Give Pleasure?” JSTOR 37.1 (2010): 131. Web. 24 April 2011. <http://www.jstor.org/pss/10.1086/656471?searchUrl=%2Faction%FdoBasicSearch%3F Query%3Ddarren%2Baronofsky%26acc%3Doff%26wc%3Don&Search=yes>.
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