Essay on Trainspotting by Danny Boyle: Does Trainspotting glorify drug abuse?
The movie Trainspotting directed by Danny Boyle was released in 1996 and is based on the novel of Irvine Welsh which was published three years before. The for “graphic heroin use and resulting depravity, strong language, sex, nudity and some violence” (IMDb: MPAA Rating) R rated (children under the age of 17 require an accompanying adult guardian) movie tells the story about a group of mostly heroin addicts around Mark Renton who just live from one drug injection to another in order to escape normal life. Because the movie and novel shows and describes the consumption of heroin so vividly by using phrases such as “Take the best orgasm you've ever had... multiply it by a thousand, and you're still nowhere near it.” (Boyle: 2:51) or “It beats any meat injection. That beats any fucking cock in the world.” (Boyle: 2:56) one could ask the question if the use of heroin is being commended. This has led to controversy among critics (cf. Edemariam). For this reason I would like to discuss the following question addressing the criticism: Does Trainspotting glorifies drug abuse?
Another quote from Mark, who is the narrator in the movie, can be seen as glorifying heroin abuse as well: He lists some things you have to worry about in life (bills, food, football, human relationships and girls) but finishes by saying “and all the things that really don´t matter when you´ve got a sincere and truthful junk habit” (Boyle: 3:17). With this statement he gives consuming heroin more importance than life essentials such as food, relationships and hobbies. So “junk”, a word which is used to describe filth, garbage or dirt, is more important and truthful to Mark than life essentials.
But Trainspotting does not just show the “highs”, it shows also the downsides of heroin consumption. It shows what the protagonists go through to get their highs. It shows the risk they bring to themselves and their real families. It shows the willingness of most of them to betray each other in their "drug family". It shows the crimes they commit to feed their habits. It shows Mark reaching - even diving - in “the worst TOILET in Scotland” (Boyle: 7:12) just to desperately recover his opium suppository. It even shows Tommy´s and a baby´s drug related death. In short, the novel and film show the extent and depth of Mark and his friends drug addiction.
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- Jens Böckenfeld (Autor), 2013, Does 'Trainspotting' glorify drug abuse?, München, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/215420