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Performing Arts History & Criticism


Drug War Films in Britain, Canada, and the U.S.

by (author) Susan C. Boyd

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2009
History & Criticism, General, Criminology, General, Great Britain
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2009
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Drug prohibition laws began to emerge in the United States, Canada, and Britain during the same era that saw the discovery of film. In Hooked, Susan C. Boyd explores over a century of American, British, and Canadian films containing fictional representations of drug use, the drug trade, and the war on drugs. She examines not only popular, mainstream films but also counterculture, alternative, and 'stoner' movies, including Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, and Trailer Park Boys: The Movie.

On-screen depictions of drug use and trafficking are powerful indicators of evolving socio-cultural attitudes towards illegal drugs. Using films such as Broken Blossoms, The Trip, Superfly, Traffic, and Trainspotting, Boyd explores how illegal drugs are linked to discourses of the Other, nation building, and law and order. Her discussion takes into account issues of race, class, and gender, and includes an important analysis of representations of women. A fascinating and groundbreaking study, Hooked uncovers the links between cinema and the cultural production of myths and stereotypes related to illegal drugs.

About the author


Susan C. Boyd is a scholar/activist and distinguished professor at the University of Victoria. She has authored several articles and books on drug issues, including Busted: An Illustrated History of Drug Prohibition in Canada. She was a member of the federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation. She is a long-time activist who collaborates with groups that advocate for the end of drug prohibition and for the establishment of diverse services.


Susan C. Boyd's profile page

Editorial Reviews

'In Hooked, Susan Boyd provides a useful and substantive contribution both to the literature on drug representations and to a larger body of developing cultural, feminist and critical criminology ... Boyd insists that the negative mythologies of drug use persist across the US, Britain, and Canada, with Hollywood productions the most deeply bound up with war-on-drugs/law and order drug war ideologies ... Ultimately, Boyd makes a critical contribution that marks how positive and alternative images of drug use and altered states of consciousness are difficult to find.'

Michelle Brown, <em>Canadian Journal of Sociology</em>

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