Monday, August 6, 2012

Don't Support Contraband Savages

Contraband and Savages are films offering a taste of the drug-smuggling world. Contraband relates a journey on a container ship from Panama to New Orleans with cocaine, counterfeit bills and stolen art aboard. Mark Wahlberg does the deal with Diego Luna against his will and with a death threat hanging over his family. The movie provides a rare look inside these ocean transports, which play a key role in the global economy yet function almost like sovereign nations at sea.

Savages involves brutal Mexican mobs moving their marijuana into California. This means absorbing or eliminating "kinder, gentler" surfer dude grow-ops. Thus, warlords Salma Hayak and Benicio Del Toro muscle in on a weed partnership and menage a trois between a blonde beach babe, a pacifist hippie and an alpha male enforcer.

With his usual world-view, director Oliver Stone introduces this enforcer as a killer, not for his drug-related assassinations but his stint in the US military. In the Stone universe, only American soldiers are murderers. All other life-takers are excused by their upbringing or cultural context. Fortunately, Oliver has never left audiences to wonder what he's been smoking.

Contraband and Savages tend to portray American drug runners as well-meaning chaps trying to make a buck and morally superior to South-of-the-border narco scum. This is American arrogance and self-indulgence, if not racism. I have no issue with folks who grow and consume their own grass. I've taken a few joint and bong hits in my life. Plus, unless you transport across state or national boundries, the US constitution says federal government has no authority over such matters.

(I'm not suggesting that lawmakers will ever follow the constitution or even learn its contents. I'm simply reminding citizens who care about their rights and/or their stash that we could choose to find our balls and stand up about such things, rather than surrender to the nanny state then complain about savages we've been financing for years moving into our neighborhoods.)

Buying dope that definitely or probably comes from Latino mobs is not much different from buying snuff porn videos produced by kidnapping, raping, and offing teens. We can't blame the "conservative war on drugs" or "liberal softness on drugs" for our personal decision to support the mafia. It's ethically uncool. Better to be the geeky stiff on the Quaker Oats cannister than a Buddhist Berkeley hipster with the blood of children and police buried alive by cartels on our hands.

The enforcer in Savages quips to his idealistic partner, "We don't change the world; the world changes us." If you're not yet cynical enough to completely swallow that, then stop buying blood-stained drugs. If you don't know how tainted that shit is, read my exclusive interview with El Jefe of the Zetas drug cartel in my upcoming book Fresh Wind & Strange Fire, including his provocative take on gringo customers. Then, do the right thing.

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