Monthly Archives: December 2007

DRUG BUDDIES

By | digital painting, humor, impertinence | No Comments

The Drug Buddies card game is a sarcastic reaction against multiple sides of the so-called “war on drugs”. The overall message of the piece is that our culture needs to grow up and adopt a more rational approach toward drugs and drug use.

View individual cards and read a more thorough commentary after the break:

The cartoon aesthetic pokes fun at fretful parent groups who worry that drugs and alcohol are being marketed toward young people. On the other hand it also makes fun of the drug culture, or at least members of it who glorify drug use or subject their peers to social pressure. “Just say no” and “drugs are cool” are opposite, yet equally oversimplified viewpoints I wish to call into question.

The Schedule ratings at the top right of each card represent the classifications given to each controlled substance by our own government. According to the government, the lower the number, the greater the risk. Marijuana – which many people feel is less harmful than alcohol – resides in the most dangerous category alongside heroin, while truly destructive substances such as cocaine and prescription painkillers are said to be less harmful. The government even claims Schedule I drugs have no medicinal value, which is curious indeed, since marijuana is currently being prescribed by licensed doctors in several states.

The green and red bars associated with attributes are not only intended to mimic RPG board and trading card games, they are also my best estimates, based on my perusal of medical research, of such things as how long the drug lasts, how sociable it makes its user, and how damaging it is to one’s health. This way you can directly compare, for example, the red “attrition” bar representing how dangerous the drug is in real life, with the government’s Schedule classifications, and the incongruity in some cases should be obvious.

When printed out, the backs of the cards feature a fragment of a poster, a convention borrowed from trading cards I used to collect as a child. The poster is a “D.O.N.T.” poster, an obvious parody of the D.A.R.E. program, which, despite being demonstrably ineffective, remains a popular, funded program. The slogan “D.O.N.T. will keep you straight” was inspired by a heterosexual friend of mine who had a drug problem. His parents would sporadically ask him if he was “straight”, by which they meant “sober”. Being gay myself, I had to laugh; and it reminded me of the stereotype that gay people do drugs more than straight people do.

I haven’t made up any rules for this card game yet, but it might be an interesting project for the future.