THE HOUSE I LIVE IN (Eugene Jarecki). 108 minutes. Screens Wednesday (December 5) and December 6 as part of Doc Soup at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. See the Indie & Rep Film listing. Rating: NNNN
Eugene Jarecki, who explained the mechanisms of the military-industrial complex in Why We Fight, explores another regrettable intersection of political policy and social reality in this month's Doc Soup feature, The House I Live In.
Its subject is the U.S. war on drugs, which has been going on for more than four decades and done absolutely nothing to diminish demand for illegal narcotics. However, it has succeeded wonderfully in expanding the prison industry, with mandatory sentencing minimums guaranteeing the nation's jails are horrifically overcrowded.
Jarecki taps David Simon, creator of The Wire (and a veteran Baltimore beat reporter), to explain the cynicism and outright contempt that drives American drug policy. Historian Richard Miller provides a fascinating look at the use of "drug fiend" propaganda over the past century - always blatantly racist, and always designed to pit white citizens against immigrant communities.
It's a sombre and potent investigation. Jarecki doesn't shy away from the real damage done to families and communities by rampant drug abuse, but he never loses sight of the larger issue: America's war on drugs is an utter failure that, like most authoritarian initiatives, now exists primarily to perpetuate itself by the most draconian means imaginable.