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Clarke 1 Curran Clarke Thesis: The cult film classic, Reefer Madness (1936), offers a glimpse of the social

stigma and moral ground of the United States surrounding the film industry and the consumption of drugs. The film reflects the era was made in through the costume and sets portrayed. Everyone, including the high school students, are dressed in the fashions of the thirtys, slacks and sweaters with collared shirts or a shirt and tie for the men and tasteful dresses or slacks for the women. The drug dealers, Mae and Jack (?), run a boarding house something else quite common in the thirties. Another example is the restaurant and soda fountain that the characters frequent. Not only is this type of place a plausible setting for the middle class city dwellers, especially the younger ones, to congregate, it features swing jazz and the appropriate dancing that would accompany such music. All in all the sets and costumes of the characters in Reefer Madness portray their intended time period very well. The style of Reefer Madness was also a product of the moral restrictions on the Hollywood scene of the time. Due to the then recent institution of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributers of America, now known as Motion Picture Association of America, mainstream Hollywood movies were subjugated to a strict code of morals, preventing the discussion or even hinting to forbidden subjects such as murder or rape. Included with these taboo subjects was the consumption of illegal drugs, cannabis included. As a result many film makers resorted to sensationalized dramas outside of the Hollywood norm resulting in, what today are known as, exploitation films. Noted for their choppy dialog, poor acting, and scattered storylines, exploitation films have scenes of dramatized murder, the exaggerated effects of substance use, and typified stories that audiences could identify with.

Clarke 2 Reefer Madness also shows the beliefs and a social stigma of the late thirties attached to the use of marijuana, or as the movie has it the killer leaf, MARIHUANA. From scenes of delirious dancing, to hyperactive giggling, and to aggravated assault and attempted rape, Reefer Madness shows how little the people of the 1930s understood the true effects of marijuana on the mind and on society. More interesting still are the parallels visible between the views that society takes today on the use, and in some cases abuse of cannabis, and the stance the people of 1936 take on this most controversial of topics. One can also see the effects on the credibility of those seeking to educate on the dangers of drug use today caused by the not so credible film industry of the thirties.