The Glorification of Drug Trafficking and Use in Television and Movies It almost seems that anytime you put in a DVD or turn on the television set these days, you are bombarded with drug use. Drug trafficking and usage has become almost commonplace in Hollywood anymore. Often in movies the person using or selling the drugs becomes rich, powerful and never gets caught. The harsh truth is our prisons are overflowing with drug offenders. Children may not see this as the truth. They will see their favorite actors or singers living a life of luxury. As a father to a six year old boy, what I see on television concerns me greatly. I have to remind him that what he is seeing on the television is not real, and that the people in it are just pretending. Unfortunately, Hollywood is very good at what they do, and often make my job harder. With the constant barrage of drug use on television and in movies, it appears to be a battle I cannot win unless I properly educate him. It is important to show that drugs are sensationalized in movies and television and that in real life, drugs can ruin lives. From the earliest days of Hollywood, the topic of drugs has been one that can attract instant drama and gather a quick audience. What may have started out as actors using smoking to set the mood for a scene have turned now to marijuana usage as the “scene setter” in such movies as Dazed and Confused and Kids and television shows like Entourage. It doesn’t even have to involve illegal drugs either. The show House M.D. centered on a doctor that was addicted to Vicodin. It almost appears that just the usage of drugs is not enough to garner an audience anymore, now some of the top shows on television center around trafficking; shows like Breaking Bad and Weeds. Most of these shows and movies make it appear that trafficking of drugs and their usage are simply not a problem or have an almost non-existent fear of consequence. They present it as a topic to take lightly and that there are no real life implications. What they fail to show are the results of such a lifestyle. The entertainment industry knows full well that these topics in their movies and shows may lead to a life of reality imitating art. Look at cigarette advertisements for example. For as long as there has been advertising, there have been “cool” people smoking in their advertisements. Everyone remembers the ads in magazines and on billboards featuring the camel Joe Cool; who due to activist groups fighting against the influence to children is no longer an advertisement character. It is common knowledge that these advertisements are a direct influence on young people to start smoking. Drugs are no different. Teenagers, for as long as they have been able to turn on the television set have been exposed to these bad habits. In 1999, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration conducted a study to determine just how much illicit drug usage was depicted in popular movies. The study examined the top 200 of the most popular movies over the previous two years. It showed that 98% of the movies released had some sort of illicit drug usage (Newswire, 1999 p1). With these staggering numbers, it is no wonder that there is a large drug issue in America. Young people often imitate what they see and hear on television and movies. The drug cartels are essentially getting free advertisement that their product is fun and exciting. Hollywood is their lead advertising agency. The most disturbing result of the study showed that in the movies that had drug usage in them fewer than 15% of young characters who smoked marijuana or cigarettes experienced any apparent consequences of their use, and 26% of them showed drug usage in a humorous context (New study first to quantify illicit drug, substance use in movies, 1999). While such story lines are funny to watch and may not have any...
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