While Breaking Bad has by no means glamorized using meth, I don’t know that it or any other show or movie has quite stripped drug use of whatever romance might exist around it quite the way Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For A Dream does. That’s likely why the Montana Meth project has hired him and a batch of other known directors to direct very intense anti-meth PSAs over the years. The other directors have included American History X director Tony Kaye, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Inception D.P. Wally Pfister, and their works amounts to a few dozen very unpleasant 30-second TV spots produced since 2005.
Today a new round of ads from Aronofsky are making their way across the net, though few seem up on the fact that this is a long-running effort and that the director is no stranger to the Montana Meth Project. His first set of ads went up in 2007 and included this very tough spot:
Here are the four new ads, which start off with a guy prepared to take a shot in the mouth for another hit, moving on to an unpleasant suicide attempt and a kid forced to endure his brother’s abuse.
Aronofsky isn’t the only one capable of concisely packaging the horrors that can result from getting addicted to one of the nastiest drugs around; Wally Pfister’s spots from last year are a little more CUTFLASHWHIPCUT and less viscerally difficult than some of the others, but they paint no less grim pictures of a meth lifestyle…
And as you might expect, back in 2005 and 2006 Tony Kaye produced some of the first and what may remain the most terrifying out of any of the spots to this day:
Clearly the campaign envisioned by Montana Meth Project founder Thomas Siebel has resulted in some gruesome work, though its absolute effectiveness is often questioned. There are a lot of numbers out there in regards to meth-use among Montana’s teens, and by some measurements it actually increased after the campaign began, while other measurements have seen it fall significantly*. The one seemingly indisputable statistic is that teen’s awareness of the dangers of using meth has dramatically increased from 25% to 93% since the project began, which seems like one thing the ads could logically take some credit for.
Regardless, the campaign has never screwed around, and has been pretty bold about allowing filmmakers to bring the kind of intensity to these ads that you typically only see overseas.
*To be fair, it does seem the statistics which have use of meth falling are based on much larger sampling pools than the more cynical reports.