Freedom versus security

I was asked recently what my screenplay was about. The logline explains “when the government targets junkies for genocide, a self-righteous policeman fights to save his drug using sister”. That’s the plot, not what it’s about, the story’s about the cruelty of prohibition, and prohibition is about the fight between freedom and security.

The fight between freedom and security is the war on drugs. Think about the rhetoric of prohibition. War. Protection. Threat. Danger. Safety. They all frame drugs and their users as dangerous, a threat to our way of life, we have to protect ourselves.

At the core of peoples desire to take drugs is rebellion, a desire to reject the values of the wider society, to be free. I’ve mentioned this dynamic before when writing about the conflict between Adam and Reiner, they’re fighting over the kind of world they want to live in. Reiner demands a world of security. Adam is fighting for a world of freedom.

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Why is Adam against drugs?

In the story world of Carrion, drug users are the enemy. As a distinct social group they are to Reiner and the prohibitionist what the Jews were to Hitler and the Nazis, “if we did not have them we should have to invent him. It is essential to have a tangible enemy”.

They’re the outsider, the other, the enemy, the threat that people can be united against. Defeat drugs and the world will be a better place.

From Reiner’s point of view, the choice to do drugs represents a kind of desire for freedom, that poses a direct challenge to the security he craves. This makes Adam’s animosity towards drugs, more about his desire to be part of something bigger. Which raises the question, if you strip away that belonging would the animosity go with it?

Adam wants to be part of something bigger. The price to become part of that something is his sister. Unwilling to pay the piper he is exiled, forced to experience the world thusly.

Does that make Adam’s animosity to drugs environmental, a learned behaviour that has more to do with his relationship with Christine, than some innate hatred of drugs and users.

Ten minutes

I’ve been going over yesterdays post trying to figure out the ten minutes of story that follow the inciting event. At its simplest the sequence is about Adam escaping. This prompted me to research individuals escaping arrest.

The scenarios for escaping arrest seem to fall into three main categories. The first involved intervention by a third party. Two bank robbers escaped custody when a prison van they were in was attacked by an armed gang. The gang forced the van to stop, threatened the guards with shotguns, freeing the two men.

The second involves meticulous planning. A murder escaped prison by scaling the walls of the prison with an improvised rope. He first hid in the prison gymnasium, then made his way onto the roof, before climbing down the wall using a rope fashioned from discarded netting.

The final scenario can best be described as an opportunistic escape. While guards were not looking, an arsonist slid under the van that delivered him. He managed to escape custody by clinging to the undercarriage as the van drove out.

The second of these scenarios is the least likely to work for Adam. There simply isn’t the time for him to plan an escape. The first scenario is also unlikely. All of Adam’s comrades are prohibitionists, who would come for him? Which leaves the third scenario, the opportunistic escape.

Refusing to kill Christine categorises him as a junkie in the eyes of Reiner and the prohibitionists. While the punishment for this treason could very easily be quick and final, Adam’s punishment is to be treated as a junkie, suffer the same indignities the drug taking community. Outcast by the prohibitionists, thrown in with the quarantined users, Adam is reviled by both sides.

This scenario is rife with the possibility of violent confrontation. Confrontations that have the potential to get out of hand and create opportunities for escape.

There is more to come but that’s it for now.

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