By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
I mentioned before in a few reviews that I grew up in a pretty “rough neighborhood”. In particular, drug use was widespread and the underground economy of drug selling that governs far too many areas of United States was alive and thriving. You learned to look the other way when certain things were going down, and even some of my more “respectable” friends supplemented their income with a dime bag here and there.
Nope, not this
So, I thought I had a pretty good idea of How to Make Money Selling Drugs. This documentary uses that title as a hook to examine many of the same themes The House I Live In did, namely how America’s “War on Drugs” has been a catastrophe in pretty much every way. Oh, and it does give you some tips on selling drugs, but, spoiler alert, it’s still a pretty bad idea.
How to Make Money Selling Drugs has that hook, which admittedly grabs you a lot better than a more conventional doc on the subject, like The House I Live In. It also does a much better job of giving a voice to the people on the ground of the drug war- not just the cops and judges and family members, but the drug dealers themselves. Since interviewees like 50 Cent and Russell Simmons may know a thing or two more about that than most celebrities, they also show up to add a bit of flair to the proceedings.
Sure, the bullet proof vest was marketing… but the 9 bullet holes weren’t
The film also strives to be a handy primer for the drug economy, and largely succeeds. It’s structured around your hypothetical rise from street corner dealer to cartel kingpin (presented like a video game), examining the economics, terminology, and risk/reward ratio of each step along the way. If nothing else, watching this will help make those The Wire marathons more understandable.
This film treads a very fine line between information and glorification. It does examine consequences, and for the most part the drug dealers tell you things that don’t exactly make you want to follow in their footsteps, but a few of them are gleefully unrepentant. True to life, sure, but kind of an iffy inclusion from the filmmakers. They also go a little too hog wild with the videogame conceit, with corny popups and at-times frantic editing distracting from the actual meat of the film.
Hey kids, making money selling drugs really is pretty easy! If you don’t mind getting stabbed and shot a bunch, that is. How to Make Money Selling Drugs is more than a gimmick, though, shedding even more light on one of the most categorical failures in the history of U.S. Governance. Hopefully it provides one more push towards some real change.
Take a Drink: whenever someone just up and tells you how to make money selling drugs
Take a Drink: for every new sleazebag you see
Take a Drink: when they stop seeming so sleazy (some won’t, of course)
Take a Drink: for every movie/TV show clip
Take Two Drinks: when it’s from The Wire
Do a Shot: Oops, consequences!