In Praise of "An Astonishing Dedication to Substance Abuse"


Amy Winehouse's in-laws are asking that people not buy her music, the idea being that she and her husband will suddenly stop downing handfuls of prescription meds once sales tank. In-Yer-Face Playwright Mark Ravenhill, whose plays seem to be populated chiefly by self-loathing drug addicts, counters that Winehouse should strive to maintain her markedly consistent binging patterns–not for herself, but for the good of mankind:

Many ancient civilisations had some sort of shaman or joker figure who would enter an altered state of trance or ecstasy and played a vital role in their communities. Surely, this is what we're missing in our culture—and why we seize so eagerly on the rock stars who can trash hotel rooms and ravage their beautiful bodies and faces.

…These totems are a vital part of our culture. We miss them when they're not there. There were some grim years in the 90s. The Happy Mondays had burned themselves out and the Libertines hadn't arrived. Courtney Love started turning up at movie premieres wearing the same Valentino gown and using the same make-up and hair stylist as every other starlet in LA. If the woman who had slept with the great Kurt Cobain was cleaning up her act what hope was there for rock as rebellion? Oasis getting a bit stroppy after a few lagers didn't cut it.

Things were getting desperate. A long time ago it had been fun to speculate who did what to whom with a Mars Bar. But, as Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow buggied little Apple around Kensington, it became difficult to feel even a glimmer of interest…

Thank God, then, for the arrival of Pete Doherty. Surely the best-looking man on the planet, with an intermittently brilliant talent for song writing and—most important of all—an astonishing dedication to substance abuse. Now Winehouse has claimed the same territory for the girls. 

Whole thing here.