Daily Archives: December 8, 2005

Drug Culture – You can't walk the line if you're on drugs

The following line of reasoning marred my otherwise positive reaction to the Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line.I’ll start with my own experience – I am sad to report that most of the artists and creative folks whom I’ve personally encountered in my life use or used illegal drugs. And my research into the arts and culture of the past and present indicates to me this generality holds true. Moreover, contemporary purveyors of pop culture continue pushing the upper boundaries of the phenomenon. There are a sufficient number of drug-using artists and creative people to be severely alarming and necessarily noteworthy.Back to the Cash flick – Cash like many, probably most, of the influential musicians of the 20th century did some of his best and most memorable work while battling a self-destructive illegal drug habit. Think of the folks who have made epic contributions to modern and contemporary music and you are probably thinking of people who were drug addicts and/or alcoholics while they were making musical history. Perhaps less familiar to the avarage citizen, fine artists, dancers, and creative people in other media exhibit the same behavior.This concerns me. I am actually amazed that it does not seem to concern fans, consumers, and supporters of culture very much at all. At least biographers are now typically including this sort of personal information in recounting lives. It is said that the portrayal of the misery and horror of Johnny Cash’s drug use, for example, serves as a warning message. I do not believe this for a second. In my opinion, the portrayal of psycho- and sociopathological behavior has the effect of glamorizing the whole business, especially for youth. The simple reason for this is alienating self-destructive behavior is a hallmark of romanticism. Rebellious young people are nothing if not romantics.In the end, we are influenced more and more by the bad behavior of those we idolize. I mention it on the first day of my art classes and I repeat it at the last class. The vastly overwhelming majority of people who indulge in these behaviors are losers – not winners. And so, more and more, we are influenced to ape the behavior of losers. By so doing we make it increasingly certain we will end up losers ourselves.

Comments Off on Drug Culture – You can't walk the line if you're on drugs

Filed under ARTology Now