Note: “Hollywood, Inc.: Cannabis Commerce’s Champion,” is also Part 8 of Cannabis Commerce in the USA, found in its entirety here.
Decades ago, in Up In Smoke, Cheech Marin pranced about in a pink tutu, singing, “Mama try to tell me, try to tell me how to live, but I don’t listen to her, cause my head is like a sieve.” Peoples’ eyes bulged out of their heads.
Nowadays, five minutes don’t go by on an episode of Entourage, without some gleeful housemate slipping into sinsemilla-assisted satori. Each episode is a veritable infomercial for the grandeur of ganja.
The pitch can be condensed into five words: things go better with pot.
Would you concede, that in 2009, HBO had its fingers on the pulse of a nation?
Building on the success of Entourage, HBO’s latest series offerings, Hung, Eastbound & Down, and Bored to Death, compete with it for the “Series Which Most Glorifies Cannabis” Emmy.
The preeminent cable network provides us a textbook example of cannabis commerce in action. It hawks a “Bored To Death Weed T-Shirt” at its online gift shop. They say every little bit of merchandising helps.
HBO continues its variations on a theme, as even the vampires of True Blood exhibit a bloodlust for psychotropic vegetation. Apparently, these undead are omnivores.
Showtime returns fire with Weeds. Sparks fly between a sexy suburban horticulturist and an accommodating DEA agent – among equally imaginative pot-lines, I mean plotlines. Lots of high-quality yuks on this one. It’s no surprise Weeds is Showtime’s highest-rated show.
Californication capitalizes on herbage as much as cleavage.
Not content confining its leafy outreach to weekly series, the cannabis-conscious channel took dead aim at HBO’s many excellent documentaries with In Pot We Trust, a paean to medicinal cannabis.
Networks large and small
Anyone else have a hard time remembering network TV without pot topicality?
Once interracial and gay themes became commonplace, pot was the lone taboo left to exploit. NBC’s The Office is one of numerous network offerings to do exactly that.
Prominent cable channel CNBC offers a continuing Marijuana and Money series.
On a more guerilla level, enterprising potworks such as the fascinating Cannabis Planet TV, with its convincing newsroom and winning anchorpeople, POT-TV, and Cannabis Common Sense, vie for viewers’ hearts and minds.
In an ingenious bit of programming, on Thursday and Saturday nights, LA independent KJLA presents Cannabis Planet — immediately following its telecast of the nascent Lingerie Football League. Apparently the station can read minds.
The silver screen
And movies? It would be a lot harder to isolate recently released films which don’t feature marijuana themes than ones which do. Need I name names? OK, recent examples of “Stoner Cinema” include Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, Humboldt County, Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, The Wackness, The 40 Year Old Virgin, American Beauty (not that recent, but it’s an Oscar winner – Best Picture, no less), Rolling Kansas, Road Trip, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
As you know, highly compensated Hollywood execs comb through piles of screenplays, until they find one they feel can rock the world. But it will only rock the world if it follows a simple formula: give the public what it wants.
Savvy execs know that one surefire way of giving the public what it wants is “green-lighting” scripts rife with reefer madness.
This equates to the “art imitates life” part of the “art imitates life, and life imitates art” axiom. In this case, Hollywood imitates you and me, who imitate Hollywood, which imitates you and me, and so on.
Going one step further, the same mass-psychology-conscious executives who insure writers, actors, directors and producers mimic the public’s current fascinations, know that the inverse is also true – the public turns to the silver screen for behavioral cues about how to conduct every aspect of their lives.
People copy how actors look, and how they react in certain situations. If their day is a little dull, they do what Entourage‘s “Turtle” would do – hit the local collective for an eighth of Blue Rhino.
That would be the “life imitates art” part. These days, there appears to be quite a bit of it.
And what effect does life imitating art have on MPMTR (maximum pot-ential marijuana taxation revenue)? Read on.
Before we leave art, can anyone name one movie or TV series which portrays pot in a negative light?
Well, let’s see . . . what about Reefer Madness? OK, that’s one. The morality tale was released in 1936!
Hollywood Inc., with over a century to master the art of manipulation, has brainwashed the public to maintain a heightened sense of celebrity-consciousness. Therefore, if Joe Q. Public sees Ted Danson toking up before a big book release party on Bored To Death, it’s only natural for him to wonder if a few well-timed bong hits might take the edge off that rehearsal dinner with the in-laws.
Celebrities that would seem to be doing a lot more than leaning toward legalization include . . . sorry, it’s too easy, you can pick just about anybody you want! If a face is splashed on a gossip magazine, it was probably immersed in a vaporizer before or after the photo shoot.
To avoid further exposure to Hollywood Inc.’s unceasing canonization of cannabis-related escapades, you’d have to seek out reruns of the PTL Network.
Does this trend show any sign of abating? Er, none that I can see.
Is there indication that Hollywood, Inc. keeps getting better at both reflecting and inducing cannabis consumption? Why, yes. Plenty. Like everywhere you look.
As we’ve seen, the most powerful marketing force on earth is presenting legalization as a fait accompli. So, how does this new reality effect pot-ential tax revenue?
It would take an incredible orator to argue it has no effect whatsoever. An incredible orator by the name of Jeff Miron has argued exactly that, in Part 2 of this report and in his April 2010 interview with Cannabis Commerce. I’m not persuaded.
In a monkey-see, monkey-do world, Hollywood Inc.’s unflagging support exerts constant upward pressure on MPMTR projections — the last figure was $73 billion, after blending in “Obvious Tax Opportunities Oddly Unaccounted For.”
I’d estimate this pressure ratchets that number up another . . . I want to say “at least 5-10 percent.”
I’m not going to. With respect to Jeff Miron’s cautious approach, I’m filtering my natural enthusiasm, and typing 2%. That looks silly low. But there it is.
We’re staring at $75 billion.
Next section preview
Hollywood, Inc. has a huge influence on public tastes. But it has allies, strong allies, motivated by the mutual need to keep cannabis consciousness in the public eye. Traditional media – radio, TV news, newspapers, magazines – isn’t giving way to social media, not without a fight.
And social media – Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn – with its ability to go viral, has the ammunition to fight back.
What field provides a natural battleground for traditional media and the internet to duke it out in? The fertile marijuana field. Just try and get through a daily newspaper, or a half-hour web surf, without taking a little detour. . . to the dank side. . .