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More television characters are going to pot July 31, 2005 - USA Today
Is Hollywood going one toke over the line? Marijuana use is cropping up on some critically acclaimed shows, and anti-drug forces fear the glamorization of pot could boost its use among youths.
Who's lighting up:
* Pot is an ongoing theme on HBO's Entourage (Sundays, 10 ET/PT), which centers on a rising young movie star and his New York buddies who have gone Hollywood. Sunday's episode features two teens getting high at a bat mitzvah.
* Streetwise Maurice "Smoke" Williams (Kirk Jones) lit up on last week's premiere of Over There (Wednesdays, 10 ET/PT), FX's gritty Iraq war drama.
* Marijuana is the core premise of Showtime dramedy Weeds (Mondays, 10 ET/PT), a dark version of Desperate Housewives suburbia with Mary-Louise Parker as a pot-dealing soccer mom. In Sunday's special preview, a teen sells pot to grade-schoolers until Parker's character blackmails him to stop.
Recurring or episodic pot themes also have fueled HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, FX's Rescue Me and Fox's That' 70s Show.
Hollywood's embellishment of marijuana use is "irresponsible," says Tom Riley of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Shows that tacitly approve of pot-smoking, particularly comedies, may exacerbate its use, says Steve Dnistrian of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. "These are trendsetting shows. They affect behavior and attitudes, particularly teens. When glamorization of drugs has climbed, changes in teen attitudes followed."
HBO declined comment. But actor Jerry Ferrara, Entourage's pot-loving Turtle, says it's the drug of choice among twentysomethings. "The show doesn't condone it, but there's definitely a lot of accuracy in how it's used," he says.
Over There co-creator and executive producer Chris Gerolmo says the show's depiction of pot use is not an endorsement. Still, Gerolmo says "drug use is certainly part of life in the Army."
Weeds creator and executive producer Jenji Kohan says the series won't advocate drug use and doubts it will influence marijuana consumption. "We're presenting this as something that's everywhere and cuts across political, ethnic and religious lines."
Kevin Nealon, who co-stars in Weeds, says the show simply underscores pot's prevalence in society. "A lot of baby boomers are baby bongers," he says.
A 2003 study - the government's latest on drug use - found that 14.6 million Americans used pot at least once in the past month, up slightly from 2002. And more than 95 million have tried it.
"With so many having tried marijuana, it would be bizarre not to expect that reality wouldn't be depicted in films and on TV," says Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project, the USA's largest pot-policy-reform group.
Hollywood's embellishment of marijuana use is "irresponsible,"...Shows that tacitly approve of pot-smoking, particularly comedies, may exacerbate its use..."These are trendsetting shows. They affect behavior and attitudes, particularly teens. When glamorization of drugs has climbed, changes in teen attitudes followed."
So let's lie to them instead.
"A lot of baby boomers are baby bongers," he says.
-------------------- "What is in us that turns a deaf ear to the cries of human suffering?"
"Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword"
- John Mayer
Making the noise "penicillin" is no substitute for actually taking penicillin.
"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." -Abraham Lincoln