I recently watched a very interesting documentary on Netflix entitled The Culture High. While it seemed to center on the issue of marijuana legalization, it wasn’t your average documentary.
The film spent a significant percentage of its two interview-packed hours digging into the mechanism behind prohibition, including government lobbying, the pharmaceutical industry, and influence peddling.
This innovative documentary also carefully examines how the media deals with all of this, intelligently pointing out that big media is like big oil: In most respects, it’s just another corporation. As such, the media primarily serves its shareholders and stakeholders—not its consumers (its customers, after all, are advertisers; confuse the two at your own peril).
If you decide to give two hours of your life to this innovative and thought-provoking documentary directed by Brett Harvey—which features exclusive interviews with everyone from Sir Richard Branson to rap artist Snoop Dogg to Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Lester Grinspoon—there’s one inevitable takeaway: We are a dualistic society with false perceptions. White hats versus black hats. The good guys versus the bad. Republicans against Democrats. Liberals pitted against conservatives. Sounds a tad overly simplistic, doesn’t it?
If you think so, you’re right. In fact, it’s so simplistic as to be false. Which means that many of your beliefs are based on bullshit. Sorry. I wasn’t trying to piss in your Cheerios today. Just thought you might want a reality-based discontent instead of a fallacious satisfaction. If not, my bad.
Screw the Facts
The Culture High drove home the point that we live in a culture of misinformation, disinformation, and intimidation. And who loses in this scenario? Typically, the facts. This was epitomized by The Culture High‘s coverage of how Professor David Nutt, a psychiatrist and neuropsychopharmacologist in the United Kingdom, was fired for being good at his job.
When acting as the government advisor for the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs, Professor Nutt conducted a study that reported that the most harmful drug was alcohol and that cannabis was much less detrimental to individual health and society overall. “I thought I was being encouraged to tell the scientific truth. And then, suddenly, one afternoon, I got a phone call saying, effectively, you gotta resign.”
Corporations and government often purposefully boil down issues to their base elements—typically losing accuracy, context, and intelligence—and then present an overly simplified version of issues to the media and, thus, the masses. I often tell my teenage children that there’s rarely any black or white, but a thousand shades of grey. Think about that.
It’s not two categories. Two categories is a myth, a childish encapsulation of a false reality. Instead, it’s a thousand nuanced layers. It’s complicated, whether we like it or not.
Those not willing to plug in their brains will never see reality. But our brains don’t like a thousand nuanced layers. And why would they? Complexity hurts. It takes time. We must expend resources and brain energy to survey, analyze, and understand the complexity. Those thousand shades of grey don’t sort themselves, after all.
Maybe, however, this is an approach we should all take. Regardless of how we do it or the amount of time it takes, we all need to get beyond the ignorant duality of a culture and a corporate media that attempts to limit our brains to being low-level storage devices, not processing chips.
We’re supposed to ferret away sound bites and headlines, reserving them for election day or our time at the supermarket or when surfing Amazon.com. But we’re not supposed to read between the lines. We’re not supposed to question authority, do our own research, think for ourselves, or form our own answers.
Do Yourself a Favor
Do yourself a favor. Take two hours of your life and watch The Culture High this weekend. In many respects, it has little to do with medical marijuana or the legalization of cannabis. At a higher level (sorry), it’s about unplugging from the mindless drone of corporate media and shallow politics. It’s about thinking for yourself.
I’m not going to tell you to support medical marijuana. I wrote Understand Medical Marijuana; of course I’m pro medpot. But I will encourage you to think for yourself. Don’t mindlessly ingest and shit out anything you hear on Huffington Post or Fox News or MSNBC or anywhere. Think. For. Yourself.
And if you’re not interested in thinking for yourself, well…it makes me wish I’d gone into marketing or politics and embraced the dark side. ‘Cause you’d be the first prey I’d target.
Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed dozens of feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis Health Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle and an active freelance writer.