MELBOURNE & GHB: A MATCH MADE IN HELL [Repost: We Are Your Friends House]

MELBOURNE & GHB: A MATCH MADE IN HELL [Repost: We Are Your Friends House]

"In 2011, the harrowing image of four desperate teenagers trying to resuscitate a 20-year-old male lying unconscious on the street circulated the internet. It was the awakening of the Melbourne GHB epidemic, which was first noted in 2004 as being one of the most crushing and debilitating youth trends in recent history. Now in 2013, the rise of GHB overdoses, or “juice” to the substance savvy, is cause for more and more concern. Sold for next to nothing, GHB is replacing ecstasy as the drug of choice for young, impressionable teens. The new wave of Melbourne’s young minds have found solace in its unpredictable realm, gladly nurturing a new way to get as high as humanly possible. It’s a problem that doesn’t seem to be slowing down, and it’s becoming harder and harder to turn a blind eye. The abuse of the substance is leading to more hospitalisations and deaths than ever before, which is why something needed to be done.

Recently, videographers, club promoters, DJs and venue managers from around Melbourne teamed up to launch a glaringly self-explanatorily titled video – ‘Anti Juice Campaign’. The purpose, in their own words, was to draw attention to the epidemic, raise awareness and educate the masses. When we flicked the video on in our office, not a single strand of audio or flicker of visual amounted to anything we had expected. Flashing text and a grungy feel made the ominous production feel more like the visuals you see in a nightclub at 3am than it did an educational warning video. As someone with no first hand experience taking GHB, the information given in the video gave me little to nothing. I walked away from the ‘expose’ with no more understanding than I entered into it with, which was extremely dissatisfying, but no real surprise.

The video is predominantly made up of industry figureheads throwing personal insults at GHB users. Instead of treating drug abuse and addiction like a mental illness, the producers have made it out to be a societal shortcoming. They’ve vilified the users and peppered the production with subjective attacks from nobodies about how it “doesn’t make you cool”. Rather than attacking the root of the problem and bringing attention to its implications, this superficial approach makes up the majority of the film. The use of relatively unknown DJs calling GHB users “fucking idiots” is the manifestation of a complete lack of planning and an example of why attempts at social change need to be substantiated long before they’re executed. I understand the merit in drawing attention to the epidemic that’s plaguing Melbourne, but I don’t agree with using alcohol-advocating DJs to do so. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the clusterfuck of idiocy that resulted in a feature by Will Sparks – a DJ who released a tune titled ‘Chemical Energy’, which glorifies drug use.

The video begged for the raw emotion sprawled across an ex-user’s face and the mourning of which they speak every word. It needed the passion and purity of a detailed recount, or the loss and sadness of someone who’s experienced the death of a friend first hand. The anonymity of the voiceovers takes away any true grit the film could have leveraged and severely detracts from the connection a viewer can make with the experiences. It’s stuff any first-year film student could learn, so there will be no tipping of my hat if you already know what I’ve just told you.

At the conclusion of the nine odd minute production, I had a reasonable understanding of what Melbourne is going through. Unfortunately, I had more of an understanding of why it will continue to get worse. Attacking the problem with subjective insults from people in the industry may connect with a few users who shun the puritans, but it won’t swing the general consensus. They’ll still go out and dance just as hard to the DJs who’ve called them out for the sake of raising their perceived social conscience. By no means was this video a step backward, but had a little more planning gone into it, something might have actually come from it."

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