U.S. History in Film

Prof. McClurken’s HIST 329 — Fall 2008

Reefer Madness

I think this one was of the most entertaining and historically interesting movies that we’ve watched all semester. Most of the movies that we’ve studied have focused on events rather than ideas. It’s important to remember that the movie is hilarious to us because we’ve come so far as a culture — though not quite far enough. Anyone remember the anti-marijuana commercial from just a few years back, where a high girl runs down someone in her car? Recently, they’ve gotten more humorous, and try to portray drugs as silly and stupid. The way this stuff is advertised to us has changed, but I think that is mostly because of the extensive advertising research done into what teenagers are receptive to.

But back to the film. It was over the top, as all propaganda is. I can’t imagine that it would have prevented too many young kids from smoking pot (and I never thought it was all that common in the 1930s), but it unfortunately would have put overprotective parents on high alert. The film itself is not poorly made for its time, but I have to say that I think it’s for the best that it disappeared until the 1970s. We all go through the D.A.R.E. program, and are generally more informed about sex and drugs.

Besides, as the movie shows, if a teenager is going to get high and have sex, the law isn’t going to stop them. It’ll just be there to punish them when they finish. And can we comment on the fact that while the film was originally aimed at parents, we see adults acting irresponsible and cruel, while the teenagers are just thoughtlessly stupid? Were they Communists or something?

No comments yet

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.