Sunday, September 12, 2010
Yesterday's post addressed Stephen King's Under the Dome, a novel in which methamphetamine production/usage proves central to the plot (e.g. think of the civic havoc that the tweeked-out addict Phil "Chef" Bushey ends up wreaking). While reading the novel over the past few weeks, I also stumbled upon (it's available for Instant Viewing on Netflix) the 2008 documentary American Meth (a film whose very title smacks of "American Gothic").
Producer/director Justin Hunt and narrator Val Kilmer take viewers on a Blue Collar Tragedy Tour through Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, and New Mexico--areas where methamphetamine has posed an alarming drug problem. The documentary offers candid interviews with addicts, as well as the local authorities, activists, and company officials committed to battling the epidemic. Some eye-popping details are provided along the way (e.g. the lists of products used to make meth), and the photos of "meth mouth" (the tooth decay and gum disease resulting from prolonged usage) are enough to scare anyone off from ever trying the drug. Admittedly, American Meth does bog down about halfway through the film, devolving into a trashy reality-TV program as it focuses on the (trailer-)home life of husband-and-wife meth addicts and their four neglected children. Still, this does not blunt the overall impact of the documentary. "The devil's serum" (as meth is dubbed by one interview subject) is poisoning the American heartland, blighting communities and destroying families--a stark reality more frightening than any storyline Stephen King can imagine.