Wake n Bake – Civil War on Drugs


in which Erin informs you of the best movies to blaze to

“Oh my god, you guys have to see this one video.”  And just like that, a friendly gathering has turned into a Youtube party.  Because it’s never just “this one video.” Youtube is a vortex, where videos of bears waving hello beget videos of spiders trying to hide beget He-Man singing a club version of that Four Non Blondes song.  (Either that, or you all just get high as fuck and watch those overdubbed G.I. Joe PSAs.)

Sometimes, depending on what type of company you find yourself in, these Youtube parties can become weirdly competitive.  Or it could be that everyone’s nervous as hell.  Either way, when it’s your turn to suggest a video, you’re definitely in the hot seat.  Because when a group of people are kind enough to donate their attention to whatever it is you’re showing them, it damn well better make them laugh or otherwise be worth their time.  Because if it plays to a silent room, you will feel horribly guilty for wasting those precious minutes that could have been spent laughing heartily at that kid who believes in your ability to learn how to ride a bike.  Make no mistake, your taste in inconsequential time-wasting media is on display, and if your sensibilities are as abysmally dull as you fear, they will all finally know it.  And they will resent you for it.  (None of this is true.  The OG is just making you paranoid, you need to chill.)

But if the constant duck-duck-goose of videos that only average 2 minutes is still making you jumpy, you’ve got a secret weapon.  It’s an hour and seventeen minutes, but if your buddies are all stoned out of their mind, they might not notice, or care.  Plus, it’s sketch comedy, so it will immediately appeal to most people.  A video of this length gives everyone an opportunity to relax, instead of keeping up with a snowballing viral video festival.  So the next time it’s your turn to flip the rail switch for the Youtube train, call up this short movie by comedy troupe Whitest Kids U’ Know.  (It originally appeared on IFC, but somebody awesome uploaded it.  These things happen when a particular show is not affiliated with Lorne Michaels.)

Civil War on Drugs imagines what it would be like if two newly-initiated potheads in Virginia came to believe that, through a comedy of errors, a bloody battle was being fought all around them over the effort to criminalize marijuana (and not over, you know, people owning other people as property.)  Buddies Sam and Trevor (Sam Brown and Trevor Moore) befriend a slave (from Jamaica?!) who finds it easier to tolerate his asshole master with a little help from this mystical plant.  (Ed: in the context of slavery, the phrase “asshole master” is redundant.)  But when they suspect that their beloved drugs’ legality is in peril, they organize a protest to bring their concerns to Washington.  Of course, nobody hears about this meeting.  But when the boys arrive late to their own protest (in true stoner fashion,) they stumble upon the carnage that is the Battle of Bull Run and wonder why the hell people are killing each other over an herb that makes you giddy.  What gives, man?  One thing leads to another, and they end up interfacing with several soldiers, fratty Native Americans, and both Generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant in an effort to decriminalize weed–all while being completely unaware of the ideological differences between the Confederate and Union armies, or that that a real war is being fought to end slavery and preserve the country’s unity.  (I mean, as much unity as could be had between people who thought it was okay to enslave others, people who didn’t particularly care about said enslaving until it threatened their political aims, and of course, the actually enslaved.)

Great party, America.

The Whitest Kids U’ Know has a pretty good track record of funny at this point, and it delivers it in this little featurette.  It will have you and your friends cackling as you pass the peace pipe.  But the film’s got more subtle humor behind it than it would first appear.  It’s full of people blindly following orders for which they don’t know the context.  All they have to go on is the vague, rhetorically ambiguous term “freedom,” invoked by Unionists, Confederates, and Legalize Its alike.  People are constantly agreeing with each other because they only think they know what the fuck the other person is talking about.  And who could possibly be against “freedom?”  They’ve got the American war machine down.

There’s also a scene where our heroes accidentally tie-dye their linens by wringing out the copious amounts of soldiers’ blood.  Maybe I’m stretching this movie further than it was meant to go (or I’m just REALLY high, take your pick), but it reminded me of white people “discovering” and taking credit for things that people with brown skin had already been using for centuries.

Exhibit A.

And then there’s the entire conceit of the movie–two boys completely misinterpreting the reasons for the Civil War recalls those idiotic “colorblind” white people who proudly proclaim things like, “The Civil War wasn’t actually about slavery!  It was about states’ rights!!1!”  (Um, yes, dipshit, it was about the states’ “right” to own people and force them into unpaid labor.  Our ancestors sent men to die in order to preserve their practice of human trafficking.  Quit dressing it up and just deal with it, already.)  I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “social commentary,” but it definitely turns on a few switches.

And yeah, there’s the weed humor.  But even though it’s one of the central subjects, it doesn’t beat you over the head with “Hahahaha, OMG, WEEEEEEED!”  (Not that I’ve got anything against stoner films, obviously, but they can get a little one-note.)  Their weed jokes are like any of their others–spontaneous, goofy, and on the nose.  And there’s tons more going on here than weed jokes.  I only hope that one day, in the far far future, some aliens doing research in Earth’s history will mistake it for a Civil War reenactment.

This is a strange historical document.