Marijuana in movies? It’s complicated

Does It's Complicated promote pot use?

Is the (very) grown-up rom com It’s Complicated dangerous to children? The Motion Picture Association of America thinks so. It slapped the Nancy Meyers comedy with an R-rating, meaning that, if you’re under 17 you can’t get entry unless you’re accompanied by an adult.

The offending sequence features Meryl Streep and Steve Martin smoking a joint and having a little too much fun.

Seems that, if you want to feature drug use in a movie, you must show some negative consequences. In It’s Complicated, the only upshot of the pot consumption is a few too many giggles and a voracious appetite for a yummy chocolate cake.

I was thinking about the R-rating while sitting in my car listening to Eric Clapton singing his ode to narcotic joy, Cocaine. Radio DJ’s tend to favour the live version of this anthem in which ecstatic audience members yell out the key lyric. Clapton sings, “She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie,” and then then audience screams out, “Cocaine.”

I wondered what would happen if a 16 year-old tripped over that song on the radio, or downloaded it, or got access in any of the myriad ways they can. It strikes me as infinitely more problematic – if you’re worried about drug use among young people – than a scene in a movie geared for the boomer demographic. I mean, how many young teens are going to see It’s Complicated without their parents?

A New York Times commentary on the subject goes so far as to say that the It’s Complicated doobie scene would turn off teens to marijuana use. Who wanted to emulate a grey-haired geek like Steve Martin, anyway?

Turns out, there are some people who would.

My favourite holiday anecdote features friends of mine smoking a joint on the sidewalk in the Entertainment District. An Eastern European woman in her mid-60s approached them and said, “I’ve just seen It’s Complicated and I can’t stop thinking about what it would be like to smoke some marijuana. Do you mind if I have a puff?” My friends obliged, “of course.”

So, yeah, Meryl Streep’s new movie promotes pot use – just not to the demographic all those ratings fixers think.[rssbreak]

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