2013, Drugs  -   15 Comments
Ratings: 7.96/10 from 70 users.

Once again, in their self-referential way, Vice covers...vices. As they did in World's Scariest Drug and The Drunkest Place on Earth, Vice delves into the realities of drugs and addiction, and the surrounding legislation (or lack thereof). In "Addiction" Vice guides us through a "new age" clinic in Malang, a voodoo-style healing circle in Brooklyn, New York, and an upscale Mexican villa serving as a heroin rehab center to invariably lead one to question whether the laws surrounding drugs and addiction are really serving the best interests of the people.

"Tobaccoland", the first half of the documentary, is focused on the tobacco industry in Indonesia. There, the tobacco industry has never had to work around anti-smoking legislation or rhetoric leaving it to grow, and flourish, unchecked. Over two-thirds of adult men are smokers, and it is common for children - frequently as young as six - to pick up the habit as well. Vice correspondent Thomas Morton experiences Indonesian smoking-culture first hand: from picking up the first pack of the day with a young schoolboy, to visiting a clinic promising to cure a variety of ailments with smoking and tobacco therapies.

"Underground Heroin Clinic", the second installment, follows the story of a heroin addict trying to get clean for good with the aid of Ibogaine - a drug made out of the African iboga root. Ibogaine is used for its purported ability to sidestep the withdrawal process, but is classified as a Type-A felony drug in the United States due to its intense, hallucinogenic properties. Vice founder and correspondent, Shane Smith, follows a young man's journey from Brooklyn, where he meets up with an Ibogaine-advocate-slash-ritualistic-voodoo-healer to travel to Mexico, where Ibogaine use is legal.

Both of the short pieces featured in Addiction employ an immersionist style of journalism: the correspondents - Thomas Morton and Shane Smith - immerse themselves within the respective worlds of addiction, and interact with those affected one-on-one. The resulting documentaries are not the impersonal and ostensibly objective style associated with traditional journalism, but rather are personal, direct and raw. The immersive documentary style and gritty subject matter combine beautifully to portray heartbreaking stories in a very genuine way.

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15 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Letem Dangle

    Part of the UN's population control.

  2. Jane Tow

    way to go!

  3. a_no_n

    Take a close look guys, this is what your Local Libertarian thinks heaven looks like.

    if the abuses by banks, and the media aren't enough to convince you that no regulation leads to massive corruption, then hopefully this could shock you into reality.

  4. Eric Lawson

    Great Doc. Great to see an alternative cure to heroin addiction. The smoking in Indonesia is quite sad!!! Peace!!!

  5. KC

    Is there a way to file a class-action lawsuit for a whole country (Indonesia) against the tobacco internationals? This is basically genocide.

    1. a_no_n

      No, because it wasn't the tobacco farms who decided they shouldn't be regulated it was the government.
      also no, it isn't a genocide.
      Do not compare a large population of people who ultimately choose to smoke to the forced imprisonment and gas chamber executions of ww2, or the mass graves of Africa, or the current bombing of Gaza, it's a bad analogy and an offensive one at that.

    2. KC

      I will start with your second point on genocide. Perhaps "genocide" is too strong of a word. However I would still stand by it, since any lesser word would diminish the crime and belittle the lives of the people who are being killed. I would settle for systematic-mass-murder-of-a-group-of-people, but that seems very roundabout, plus it is the definition of the word genocide according to Word-Web. I mind you that this does not make the other crimes you mentioned any less heinous, they are all very evil and to say that this crime is worse than that is like comparing this infinity with that infinity, good past-time for pure mathematicians and logicians but useless for the practical men.

      Whether some act constitutes as genocide comes down to three elements. An intent (either systemic or deliberate), deaths (of a group), and causative relationship between intent and deaths. In the case of the Indonesian smokers, there is very little doubt that, pardon the cliche, smoking kills, so we should at least agree that a lot of people are harmed by smoking or potentially will be killed by smoking.

      The main issue is the intent, is there an intent, and more precisely whose intent, which is related to your first comment. Your point is that there is really no intent, even if there is one it is the government not Big Tobacco. Well, this was precisely the same defense Big Tobacco used when they were questioned by US Congress in the early nineties about whether they knew that their product kills and whether they knowingly marketed a dangerous product to the public, look up Tobacco Master Settlement. As part of their defense, Big Tobacco claimed it is the government's responsibility to determine whether a substance is dangerous and regulate it according, not the private companies. Well, the problem is that in practice, any legislation attempting to regulate tobacco was fought by the tobacco industry tooth to nail, until some whistle-blower showed up.

      In the case of Indonesia, it seems like exactly the same problem and worse. The government is somehow locked-in by some sort of trade treaties: they will have to pay a fine if they attempt to regulate tobacco. In effect, this is like the case of the Chinese Opium War with the major European countries (+ US) in the 19th century. Essentially the Chinese was forced to go to war with the Westerners because the Chinese government decided to stop the opium trade. Now, I agree that economic handgun is not the same as cannon balls, but it is no less deadly as the journalist John Pilger reminds us in War by Other Means.

      So I would argue that there is an intent and it's not the government, it is the business interest to make money. The government is not guilt-free of course being an agent of the big business. The last element is the causative relationship: Does stopping the government from enacting regulatory measures cause people to smoke? Many studies have concluded that regulation and education can reduce the number of smokers, especially the young. Of course, this proves correlation at best, not causation, after all no one is pointing a gun at a six year old to force he/she to smoke. But, does a six year old really have a choice? Did the Chinese opium addicts really have a choice? Does being misinformed by the ads and fancy marketing makes you just another addicted sucker, not a victim? You know what, Einstein said that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. I would say that people who makes it hard to do something to stop murders are just as guilty as the killer.

    3. a_no_n

      you aren't wrong but i still disagree with your conclusion regarding genocide.

      The opium war is an interesting example, but you have to remember the British were occupying part of China at the time, the opium wars were about a lot more than just Opium.

      I just can't help and feel that calling it a genocide is spitting in the faces of people who actually were chased from their homes in the dead of night, hunted down and brutally murdered in cold blood by people who hated them.

      there's a very big difference between that and giving someone a carton of smokes that will shave five years off their life expectancy.

    4. Jack1952

      Although it's repugnant that the Indonesian government does nothing to discourage smoking, genocide isn't the word to describe what's happening. Genocide implies an intent to kill. Those involved with the tobacco industry aren't out to kill anyone. They're out to make a buck and the consequences are, for the large part, mostly irrelevant. One could say that the premature death of a smoker would be bad for business. It would be better that he lived to continue to buy the product. Dead people make poor customers.

    5. steviecomment

      Genocide is when your motivation is to erase a group of people. The Tobacco firms motivation is to make as much money as possible.

      You combat genocide with force, you combat drug abuse with education. The war on drugs doesn't work.

    6. dmxi

      genocide is forced...smoking is a choice.

    7. awful_truth

      Imagine how addicted a person would have to be, to justify the actions of genocide. (psychopathic behaviour induced by power and greed)