Heavy: The Tale of Two Junkies
Our Take – Small Axe Radical Short Film Reviews by Cole Diment
Heavy: The Tale of Two Junkies is a polemical confrontation that addresses our stereotypes about drug addicts. The direct address that Rummans utilises – aggressive, in-your-face – takes us out of the realm of relaxed contemplation and asks us, forces us, to respond to these addict characters through our guilt, anxieties and pre-conceived notions of their being. It turns out that maybe the image of the addict is nothing to do with the addict themselves, that they only become the projection of our ill thinking.
On of the most intriguing ideas in Heavy is the way cycles of ideology maintain and create the image of the addict. The opening images show us the fear-mongering that the establishment creates around drugs. Successive presidents, here Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, as well as First Lady Nancy Reagan, utilise the media and futuric ideology (we must save the children) to effectively scaremonger the general public. These conditions, as Heavy shows, create the necessary social ostracisation of drug addicts that fuels and continues their social maligning and their dependency upon drugs as a route out of deprivation and desperation. The establishment creates a self-fulfilling prophecy for the addict.
Heavy flips this script. By breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience, we are the ones on trial here, not the addicts. As main character Brain says ‘When we die, nobody knows’ and ‘Let’s be honest, if I overdosed in Times Square you’d probably just walk right over my f****** corpse.’ It is not the addicts who are the sub-humans here, as we may like to tell ourselves, but us. We create the figment of the addict in our own projection of sub-humanism. As an aspect our mind, then, we must confront the sub-humanism inherent within us that allows us to ignore addiction sickness.