Reel Dope


The film Trainspotting, released during the 1996 presidential race, became fodder for Bob Dole's desperate attempt to seem tougher on drugs than Bill Clinton. The Dole campaign repeatedly condemned Trainspotting as "a movie that glamorizes heroin use."

Anyone who actually saw the film had to be puzzled by that claim. The young Scottish heroin addicts portrayed in Trainspotting lead lives of hopelessness and degradation: They live in filthy conditions, steal to support their habits, betray friends and relatives, and die of AIDS. In one memorable scene, the protagonist dives into a toilet bowl full of feces to recover an opioid suppository. This is glamorous?

A recent issue of NIDA Notes, published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, reinforces the feeling that Dole may have been missing something. The newsletter reports that NIDA Director Alan Leshner participated in a ceremony at which Trainspotting received a Prism Award for "outstanding efforts by the entertainment industry to portray drug abuse and related violence accurately in films and television programs." Of course, this could be just another sign of the Clinton administration's softness on drugs.