The conventionalisms of drugs, sex, love and alcohol

It is funny how two unconnected pieces of research can relate to the same topic mixing youth, drugs, mental illness, emasculation and risk taking. Both studies are of course full of conventionalisms and made the reader think that nothing new has been brought to the eternal debate between the good or bad effects of drug taking or the eternal role that the hypersexualised attractive woman plays upon the innocent man who cannot resists her charms. It seems as if the Australian University of Queensland that commissioned these two studies on mental health and cannabis and the effects that attractive women have on young sporty men wanted in reality to continue feeding the healthy macho attitude so present in these days.

We all know that history is full of broken hearts and love stories where femme fatales play, use and destroy the male characters. We all know too that broken hearted men turn into desperation in a way in which women do not. To my imagination I can bring the dialogue in Casablanca where Rick describes himself as a drunkard and contrast it with Scarlett’s tolerance to alcohol in Gone with the Wind. The contrast is clear, but the way in which both abuse alcohol clearly defines their personalities, while Rick is a loser who lost everything when his lover left him in Paris, Scarlett drank to recover the strength needed to continue with her performance of man-eater mentally trapped by her adolescence memories. In both cases the coincidences and the differences are clear. They both want to forget, but in the case of Scarlett alcohol is used as a way of empowerment that only Rhett, the archetypical male type destroyed by her, seemed to realise.

Nobody needs to be a genius to understand that attractive women make men do stupid things and lose control. After all, who does not remember Dudley Moore literally losing his head for Bo Derek in 10? Once again the combination of alcohol and drugs prescribed by the dentist constituted an essential element of the comic innuendo of the film.  On the other hand, and with a more tragic and realistic sense Basic Instinct provides an example of how a man can immerse himself into a risky situation with no more help than  Jack Daniels and a cocaine addict bisexual blond woman suspect of murder.

These types of connecting ideas in reality help to understand the clichés and stereotypes of gender roles because they commodify women as objects of destructive pleasure at the same time that portray men as victims of their immaterialised desire. For that reason the study on mental health and cannabis use failed to give an answer about the importance that such drug give people to communicate their real feelings, forgetting the media images and other resemblances with popular culture. I am saying all this because I strongly believe that in some moments of a relationship cannabis can help to open the heart and the mind of the partners, even if it has the same tragic consequences as in Eyes Wide Shut when Tom Cruise’s ideas of happy marriage suddenly collapsed after hearing from a very stoned Nicole Kidman that she had been unfaithful.

Having said that, I also need to clarify that we should only take as real feelings those that we can remember when we are sober and that communication flows both ways. We should all be aware that we live in a world where sexualities take different forms and the old archetypes are nothing more than the product of a past in need of constant negotiation. We need to move beyond the perfect body culture in order to enjoy a real culture of pleasure based on the development of the senses through the liberation of our repressions and the conquest of our passions. To that extent I also think that the conclusions of the study on mental health and cannabis use are interesting for two reasons.  The first one because it seems to agree with the general concern that skunk is really worst than natural cannabis and the other is that psychotic effects are linked to earlier age of consumption. The commonality of both conclusions refer to a time in life when people are beginning to develop and as such when more vulnerable are. For that reason, education on drugs and information about their effects would help drug users to break from the isolationism of their disturbances constructing in that way a much safer world free from socially constructed mental disease.

For other people however, these arguments seem too provocative and they just pretend to give their opinion based on their self-assessed bigotry and intolerance. The Robert Smith’s words, leader of South Australian political party the Bogan Liberation Front are a good example:
 “I am sure if Aussie women made a bit more of an effort, Aussie blokes would be more likely to take the risks that are necessary to win cricket matches. As for the marijuana issue, as I have said before, clearly this drug taking metro-sexual culture seeping out of Sydney is weakening the essential moral character of Aussie men. A few smokes and a solid South Australian bogan bloke will start growing his hair and he certainly won’t be backing his mate up in a fight. I am really worried about the next Olympics to be honest, the Federal Government needs to take this research onboard and do something before 2012 comes around.”

 http://www.uq.edu.au/news/index.html?article=20738 (Research on young men and attractive women)

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6201LW20100301 (Cannabis and psychosis)

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/cannabis-use-linked-to-psychosis-study-20100227-pacr.html  (Cannabis and Psychosis)

 

Comments

As an ex-pat living in Australia, I am shocked at the level of cannabis consumption, most adults tell me they started smoking bongs aged 13/14, some as young as 10.

These kids usually have no or very little prospects or opportunities in life, they've come to expect nothing more than to grow-up, have kids, get a mundane job (if they're lucky) and die. The boredom and lack of culture or anything spiritually engaging in their lives is making many a young aussie satisfied with sitting around every evening in the shed with their mates smoking cones, totally unware that there's a whole world outside of their chronic self-contained drug-induced stupor.

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