Recent Articles

Recent Comments

« | Main | »

Pot Culture’s Greatest Hits

By Hempology | October 8, 2003

Local stoners rate their on-screen counterparts

From Monday Magazine, October 8th, 2003

By John Threlfall

We’ve seen it countless times in countless movies: the dazed and confused stoner,
unable to do much more than get the munchies and say “Hey, man” over and over.
Blame Cheech and Chong, blame Reefer Madness, but when you consider the
huge variety of people out here who do actually smoke marijuana – professionals, academics,
musicians, filmmakers, writers, government employees, whomever – it’s pretty
weird that it’s so rare we see anything more than a less-than-articulate stereotype
potrayed on the screen. (Think Sean Penn in Fast Times At Ridgemont High and
you’ve pretty much got it nailed.)

Or at least, that’s how it seems at first puff. Take another hit off that joint, however,
and you’ll see how the image of the stoner is starting to change in popular culture. Take
Poltergeist: while most audiences merely remember it as a fright-fest, connoisseurs
of marijuana movies will no doubt recall the scene where the spooky little girl walks in
on her parents smoking a joint. In a movie where everything else is going crazy, it comes
off as a simply normal slice of life. Or how about that scene in Peggy Sue Got Married
where Kathleen Turner “blows some weed” (and a few preconceptions) with the local beatnik?
Then there’s the more recent offering of Saving Grace, in which a financially
strapped upper-class British woman starts growing some green to keep herself out of the red.

But as we found out when putting this issue together, few everyday people are willing to go on
record as pot smokers. I decided to ask folks who weren’t afraid to put their marijuana
where their mouths are – specifically, some of Victoria’s noted stoner bands – for their
favourite pop culture pot moments.

“I thought about your standards,” says local signer Kimmy Sweetgrass, “you know – Fast
Times At Ridgemont High, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
– but then I remembered the
scene from 9 to 5 where Lily Tomlin steals her son’s stash, takes the recently
fired Dolly Parton home with her, and the two of them get really high.” Far from being a Dolly
fam, Sweetgrass likes the way that smoking pot gives the two women the opportunity – and the
excuse – to bond. “It’s totally mainstream and such a cheesy-ass movie,” she laughts, “but it’s
such an awesome scene: two regular people strip away their facades and set themselves on a
course of action that changes their lives forever. And it’s while they’re high together that
they come up with the plan to kidnap their misogynistic boss and take over the business.”

Could be that the scene also reminds Sweetgrass of home, too. “I smoked my first joint
with my mom,” she admits. “My family were artists and hippies, and I grew up in an environment
that completely demystified it. It makes a lot of sense to be honest.”

Sticky Kola, frontman and songwriter for King Bong – “the self-appointed offical ambassadors
of B.C. bud” – found time while working on their new album, Grow, to come up with two
top picks. “First of all, Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels,” he notes. “Specifically,
the scene where they’re sitting around smoking a reefer, talking aobut what an asshole Frank
is and how they have to kick him out of the band. They’ve got a fake Frank doll, and they’re
all pointing at it – hilarious!” Once he finished giggling, Kola calms down and continues.
“And the episode of Six Feet Under where the guy discovers his dead father had a secret
room where he went to smoke pot and dance to ’60s psychedelic music.” Kola feels that by
adding some dope content to the current quirky hit, Six Feet Under’s producers were
trying to make a point not only about the show’s audience but also about the multi-generational
nature of marijuana.

“I think the generation shift is really starting to show itself,” he muses. “Grandparents who
busted all that territory for us in the ’60s are now old people who still smoke pot, and
I think they’re not surprised when their kids and grandkids are involved anymore. It’s not
such a shock for everybody.”

Speaking of stereotypes, Brian – who describes himself as “just the drummer” for smoke-heavy
groove outfit Smoked Out Brainzzz – leans towards the classics when asked for his flick picks.

“Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke, man,” he chuckes. “I watched that when I was younger and
it brought on a lot of what I do today, I’m sure.” Hmmm, okay… anything, uh, less predictable?
“I love the Trailer Park Boys episode where they guys’s growing a pot plant in the back
of his car!”

In general, though, Brian feels that the media-generated image of pot smokers has been
improving lately. “It’s way more realistic nowadays than it’s ever been,” he says. “In the older
movies, it was, like, you’d smoke a joint an go insane, hack somebody up. Our last album
(the funky Have a Nice Day) starts with a sample of Reefer Madness: ‘Should
you ever be confronted with the temptation of taking that first puff of a marijuana
cigarette – don’t do it!’ It’s crazy how they used to depict it. Now, it’s more like
American Beauty, where you have a smoke and just chill right out.”

Another musician in the know is Zolabud’s guitarist and songwriter Kevin, who picks a different
cinema classic. “I always go back to Easy Rider,” he says enthusiastically.
“That one scene where Jack Nicholson takes his first little hoot and is, like, ‘Oooh, I
don’t know about this.’ Then you see him riding down the street – that’s probably
the most positive image I can think of.”

Kevin likes how the pot culture is improving in the mainstream. “They’re making references
to weed on radio and TV that you never would’ve heard 10 years ago, you know? Maybe
they’re starting to realize that alcohol is the bigger problem; maybe they’re starting
to figure out that their approach to marijuana is not quite right.” Now that would be worth
making a movie about. Oh wait, someone already did – check out Ron Mann’s Grass.

Just be sure you’ve got plenty of popcorn.

Topics: Articles | Comments Off

Comments are closed.