Saturday, February 17, 2007

She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie

An apparently patriotic company is marketing a new energy drink called “Cocaine”. Branding an energy drink full of sugar and caffeine as a dangerously addictive controlled substance…well, I don’t know if you can get me to argue too much about that. However, I am not worried about Redux Beverages simply sullying caffeine and sugar’s good reputations.

I am not the only one who does have a problem with their name choice because it makes light of cocaine use. Redux Beverages has created a MySpace site to defend themselves against the attacks of the “liberal media”, which is apparently ABC News. (I think complaining about the “liberal media” qualifies them to put an American flag behind an energy drink named after an illegal scourge.)

If you skip “Dealers”and “Wired Science” and click on their ”Rumors” link on their main site, you can read that they answer the question: “Does Cocaine contain cocaine?” with: No, we don't advocate drug use. What you do with your drink is completely up to you!” While they make a point to tell people to avoid drinks with high fructose corn syrup, apparently drug use is “up to you”.

Advocating drug use can take other forms than sneaking illegal drugs into drinks. For example, wearing a shirt with a picture of a marijuana leaf, even if the shirt isn’t made out of hemp, can easily be considered advocating drug use. Calling a song “Cocaine” like Eric Clapton, ”Hits from the Bong” like Cypress Hill, or ”Heroin” like Velvet Underground was and is easily argued to be promoting drug use. The interest groups who complained about these songs weren’t typically labeled liberal.

Apparently even being more blatant about not actively promoting drug use isn’t good enough, although it isn’t hard to beat a MySpace account created after the fact. The United States Government Accounting Office released an official report stating that the current administration’s anti-drug campaign actually encouraged more drug use in the group of children that viewed the ads than the group that did not. In their report clearly entitled ”Contractor’s National Evaluation Did Not Find That the Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign Was Effective in Reducing Youth Drug Use" the government investigators conclude that these ads “may have promoted perceptions among exposed youth that others’ drug use was normal.” The only statistically significant results they found was increased initiation of marijuana use among groups that watched the ads.

So, if anti-drug ads seemed to imply that others doing drugs is normal, what does naming and marketing an energy drink called “Cocaine” say? Redux, wave the flag, say the “L” word and defend free speech if you want, but please admit that your free speech is encouraging cocaine use. But, that's "up to you".


Tanya said...

I often think that our views about drugs and drug use are similar to the ideas that Victorians had about sex. They acted like nobody has sex and distorted views about sex abounded. Masturbation causes blindness and hairy palms, therefore that evil foreskin must be snipped. We are seeing the same thing happen with drugs. While abuse of drugs is harmful and not a debatable fact, to pretend that all use of drugs is abuse is a stretch. I am not a big fan of the way drugs are portrayed as cool and badass but I sometimes wonder if the lies and exaggerations about drug use and users is not a contributing factor.

In the Netherlands, where drugs are legal, nobody cares if you smoke a joint. It's not a big deal and it certainly isn't going to make somebody look "cool". I don't like this advertising campaign but these kids are clearly taking cheap shots at the anti-drug ads that everybody hates.

I would hate to think that all literature or music that makes reference to drug use would be considered "promoting drugs". Drugs are here to stay and we might as well get used to it. Unless we want to go the fundy sex education route and promote abstinence only.

You might be interested to know that Dear Leader wants to spend more money on promoting anti-drug ads that simply don't work.

Hilary said...

I think you make some very valid points. Yes, the current war on drugs is ridiculous. But, I have a huge collection of books and music I would easily consider promoting drug culture. I would much rather listen to "Legalize It" by Peter Tosh than drink Cocaine.

I guess I wasn't clear enough in my point, and I was afraid that my post would come off as too pro-drug war or too pro-censorship. I just hate that these bozos are denying that they are glorifying cocaine, even in a funny way, and then are blaming liberals and waving the free speech flag. Admitting that your product glorifies drugs is not the same thing as being censored.

I have a pet peeve about people claiming their being censored when they are simply being criticized.