Glamorization or Condemnation: The Accuracy of Hollywood’s Portrayal of Heroin Use in Motion Pictures in the 1990’s

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Glamorization or Condemnation: The Accuracy of Hollywood’s Portrayal of Heroin Use in Motion Pictures in the 1990’s

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Title: Glamorization or Condemnation: The Accuracy of Hollywood’s Portrayal of Heroin Use in Motion Pictures in the 1990’s
Author: Tonkovich, Russell
Citation: Glamorization or Condemnation: The Accuracy of Hollywood’s Portrayal of Heroin Use in Motion Pictures in the 1990’s (2004 Third Year Paper)
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Abstract: The United States saw a dramatic increase in heroin use during the 1990’s. During that same time, heroin references in popular music, movies, and fashion became increasingly common. This paper seeks to examine two aspects of the portrayal of heroin use in ten movies released between 1994 and 2000. First, the accuracy of the depiction of heroin use is analyzed to see if the depiction of heroin use by Hollywood reflects the realities of heroin use in the United States during that same time period. Second, the paper examines whether or not these ten movies show heroin use in a positive or glamorous manner. In general, the heroin-using characters in the ten movies are predominantly white, middle-class or upper middle-class males in their twenties. Minorities and women are underrepresented as heroin users in the movies according that available statistics about heroin use in the United States. Contributing to the glamour of heroin, the movies tend to emphasize the euphoric effects of heroin while omitting the negative, or less desired, pharmacological effects of heroin. Similarly, withdrawal is not accurately portrayed in any of the movies. While many of the films downplay the negative pharmacological effects of heroin, a few of the movies did focus on the negative social effects that heroin has on the characters’ interpersonal relationships. Only a few movies depicted the serious health and legal consequences of using heroin. The least glamorous portrayal of heroin use in many of the movies derived from the manner in which the heroin-using characters financed their heroin addictions. In several movies, crime as well as prostitution was used to financially support the heroin addiction of the characters.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:8965580

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