The ongoing fight to legalize marijuana is one viewers are exposed to 24/7. We are constantly seeing news coverage or skits on well know television sitcoms such as Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report, etc. Essentially anything we read or watch makes some relevant comment or entire segment towards the legalization or use of marijuana. However, my argument is not whether we are or are not constantly exposed to the issue. Rather my argument is that if the federal government is mostly still against legalizing marijuana (although slowly it looks like it may come around) why is it that we constantly see it exposed to children, and even to adults on television programing? While I am supportive of the legalization of marijuana (not for my own personal use, because I don’t smoke Mary-J) it boggles my mind that the government although frequently fighting against it, appears to have no set regulations on how television channels can (in a sense) promote the use of marijuana. While I did no extensive research on the matter, I mostly went with areas in which I have seen this minor issue promoted.
I must state that while this is not an issue I am passionate about, it is one that I find interesting, and kind of funny at the same time. If the federal government is not supportive of a drug (which by the way has proved to improve health conditions and have little to no health effects) why do we continue to see it on television? One would assume that if the federal government is on the fence about legalizing it we would see less promotion of this drug on television. However the case is that we see this on television programs more than ever before, and even on family orientated channels such as ABC Family and CBS!
In this blog, I present two different situations (and one for shits & giggles); the first is from the series Pretty Little Liars episode 13 of season 1 where marijuana use is exposed but not “socially” (or parentally, if that’s even a word) accepted. The second is from the series Awkward episode 4 of season 1, where weed is exposed by the parents, making it acceptable by adults. I believe both are important to discuss because of who is actually using the drug, especially in a era where it seems that most parents are so against the use of this recreational drug.
Pretty Little Liars as we all know (even if we don’t watch the show) is about high school teenage girls; but even though that is the age group it is intended for, we know that there are always children younger than the ‘teenage age’ watching this program. As we know PLL is on cable, and cable has fewer restrictions than broadcast television. I believe however, that the exposure of illegal narcotics should pertain to all television networks regardless of the type of network it is.
Either way, what happens in this episode is Emily (one of the original four) whose mom already disapproves of her life ‘choices’ (because she is a lesbian) walks in on her and Maya, her girlfriend, playing footsie. As her mom freaks out, Maya leaves and also forgets her bag. Angry a while after, she rummages through Maya’s bag and finds marijuana in a mints container. (whoops!) The show continues with an argument between Emily and her mother, and Maya getting ratted out. Strongly supporting the disapproval of teenagers smoking. In an article by CBN.com, the Parents Television Council states that the ages in which kids are most vulnerable is between the ages of 12-17. Exactly the age this series is intended for! While Emily’s mother shows great disapproval and rats Maya out who ultimately gets sent to a juvenile camp. This portrays the idea that even though an attractive character is using a drug recreationally, there are still consequences. Rather than this is okay and acceptable behavior because we saw it on television. (FYI- currently there is only 2 states that have legalized ‘recreational’ marijuana use Washington State and Colorado) Pennsylvania, the state where PPL is based, has not legalized it.
Which brings me to my next point, while Emily’s mom disapproved of the idea of her girlfriend smoking, the parents of Jenna Hamilton on Awkward seem to have different opinions on the matter. Of course age may play a factor, seeing that they are pretty young lenient parents. In episode 4, Jenna’s parents decide to toke up in a parking lot. Unfortunately we don’t see much of the parents getting stoned in the series (seriously such funny parents, side note in later episodes, Jenna becomes quite the smoker.) Either way, this episode shows an approval of recreational use, because the parents are doing it, then it must be okay it’s then seen as socially acceptable.
Furthermore it is safe to say that although the federal government, as of now is against the legalization of marijuana, I only see this issue becoming more and more common. In an article by The Boston Globe, they stated “pot is everywhere on TV.” That statement couldn’t be truer. Another point is that television sitcoms are in a sense based on public interest, and to an extent connected to what is happening in the world. As social acceptance of certain issues change, producers are more likely to include those in their storylines. Which then makes sense on why there seems to be less strict regulations on how the exposure of drugs is displayed on television, regardless of what networks shows are on.
Lastly, my shits and giggles situation is from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. (mostly because I’m on a sunny binge!) All four seasons I’ve watched have had some sort of drug representation, from Frank smoking marijuana to Dennis and Sweet Dee being addicted to meth. This displays the issue that drugs are a reality in America, and it is something we will continue to see be exposed to on television.
Frank Reynolds: [taking a massive bong rip] Holy shit Deeandra, this is wacky. I want you to go download me a hoagie off the Internet.