Sunday, May 18, 2008

METH (2006)

I came across Meth on Netflix and streamed it (I just figured out that streamed movies are free so I'm kinda all into the idea). It's a documentary about you know what and, while somewhat interesting, is too limited in its scope and ultimately fails to tell the truth about meth, even while it pretends that that is what it's doing. Unlike the drug, Meth the documentary has no teeth.

Most of us know that crystal is a scourge that has somehow become a twisted rite of passage for lots of gay men. Personally, I believe there are very specific reasons for this, which are societal in nature and are connected to a pattern of extreme sexual behavior that has been in place in the urban gay community for decades. But I'm just some gay guy who's kind of lived through it and made observations, I'm not a professional expert on the subject. Neither are any of the men in this documentary. They are all current and former heavy users (most of them admit on camera to regularly "slamming" or injecting meth intravenously), which gives you an insider's perspective on the living hell that is meth, but also sends mixed messages. These guys talk about how awful it was and how dirty they feel, but only after they gush about how fabulous it was. Which perfectly encapsulates the fucked-up nature of meth, but doesn't give the viewer much perspective. This doc would have benefitted from throwing a few Dr.'s of something or other into the mix: perhaps a sociologist to talk about the very real societal pressures gay men face in our culture; perhaps a medical doctor to talk about what's actually in meth, what it's cut with, what it does to the brain and body (during and after ingesting it), the effects of prolonged use, and all the other messy details about it; perhaps a psychiatrist to talk about what motivates so many gay men in particular to enter into this dance with the devil, this ugly 3-way of gay men, meth and the sex that goes with it.

This doc doesn't suck, it's just very narrow and treats the issue with kid gloves. One of the interviewees talk about going to places that are "evil" without saying what that really means. "Evil" is about the strongest negative word a person can use...and yet, no details? What do you mean by that? Granted, the doc does go into many of the subjects' experiences of "hitting bottom" (and no, I don't mean hitting that bottom), some of which sound horrific. But it's a little like sitting in a group therapy session and gets pretty boring after a while listening to these men go on and on about themselves.

The same individual who refers to some of his past behavior as "evil" also talks at one point about how meth was the only drug he tried that he had trouble quitting. So he's going on about how "I could stop Ecstasy, I stopped coke, I stopped Special K," etc. Which begs the question: why do some of us just accept the use of illegal party drugs as acceptable behavior? I'm sure it has to do with our feelings as outsiders, outlaws, etc. I'm not passing judgment and I'm not saying I haven't done anything illegal myself. But it's an area worth exploring, that we just accept illegal behavior at face value without ever really knowing the possible legal consequences of getting busted for it.

There's a marked difference between the older guys, who kind of go on and on about the circuit scene of the late 80s/early 90s and how fabulous it was, and the younger guys, who are more like at-home users and don't fit the circuit boy stereotype. There's also a creepy guy who looks to be in his late 40s/early 50s who talks about how he just uses it to lure hot 20 year olds to his place for sex, and how it works like fucking catnip. So here we have what amounts to a predator, and yet we're just getting his side of the story. And he's from Orange, CA where I grew up. Ew. I looked at him closely, he doesn't look familiar.

Ultimately, Meth is an interesting baby step toward acknowledging this hideous aspect of gay life, but it just isn't enough. There needs to be a hard core, take no prisoners, "Scared Straight", NC-17 rated doc about gay men and meth to show the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so we can not only acknowledge how truly ugly meth is, and how destructive it is to our culture and community, but use it to just basically scare young gay men away from using meth in the first place.

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