Is 'Heroin chic' sweeping Hollywood?
August 2, 1996
Web posted at: 1:20 a.m. EDT
From Correspondent Mark Scheerer
NEW YORK (CNN) -- What's the hottest trend in show business
today? To hear some people tell it, it's heroin.
A number of high-profile celebrity drug busts and two new
movies, one a highly acclaimed film from Scotland, give some
people the impression that heroin is chic all of a sudden.
The movies are "Trainspotting," which follows the escapades
of some charming Scottish junkies, and "Basquiat," director
Julian Schnabel's first film, about his friend and
contemporary Jean Michel Basquiat, a young artist who died of
a heroin overdose.
Then there are the real-life drug cases. Actor Robert Downey
Jr. ran away from rehab as did Stone Temple Pilots singer
Scott Weiland. Smashing Pumpkins keyboard player Jonathan
Melvoin overdosed, and Jimmy Chamberlin got drummed out of
the same group after being charged with possession of heroin.
Even in the world of high fashion, a current trend toward
dark-eyed makeup and ashen skin paints a gaunt, burned-out
look. "Heroin chic" is what some pundits call it. The
question is whether all the media exposure will foster a
curiosity about the drug. The stars don't think so.
"If you shove it under the carpet, that's when kids find it
interesting, and that's when they get into it," said Shirley
Manson, lead singer of the alternative band, Garbage. Her
band was the opening act for Smashing Pumpkins when heroin
ODs derailed their tour. Manson says there isn't anything
glamorous about smack and rock and roll.
"I think the more we talk about it, and it's de-glamorized,
then we might have a chance of fighting this kind of
problem," she said.
One of the stars of "Trainspotting," Ewan McGregor," says the
movie neither condemns nor condones. However, "I can't see
that someone will come away from the movie and think, 'I'm
going to try that,' because you see too many horrific things,
really," he said.
The truth isn't always a deterrent, noted a Detroit-area drug
counselor, who warned that young people can think they're
invincible. For him, personally, "Trainspotting" would be an
effective deterrent, Dr. Michael Boyle of Henry Ford Hospital
said. "As I looked at that movie, there were enough negative
consequences that I saw that certainly would be there to
discourage its use."
Some in the entertainment business have gone so far as to
suggest that pop culture personalities often serve as
surrogates for society at large.
"We want people to go there for us. And I'm afraid we are
partly responsible for rock star deaths as well, because in
some way, on some level, we encourage our idols to push out
there, to smash up hotel rooms, to do all that kind of
thing," said Danny Boyle, who directed "Trainspotting."
Phil Lynott of the band Thin Lizzy was a heroin fatality in
1986. His mother Philomena, who has written a book about
him, has some common-sense words for rock and roll fans.
"Thank you for loving him and loving his music. But do not
follow his lifestyle."
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