Is ‘Trainspotting’ (UK 1996) an Irresponsible Representation of a Heroin-Chic Lifestyle?
Trainspotting is a 1996 Channel 4 film, directed by Danny Boyle, based on the book written by Irvine Welsh. It follows the life of Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor), a Scottish heroin addict and the influence addiction has on his and his friend’s lives.
The mid-1990s saw the rise of the ‘Heroin Chic’ trend amongst young people across Britain. The term originated from the appeal of looking like a Heroin addict, thinking it was cool and stylish; or chic. Skinny, androgynous models with angular bone structure, pale skin and dark circles under their eyes appeared across the media, for example in fashion advertisements such as Kate Moss posing for Calvin Klein Underwear. From this arose films which examined heroin use and culture, such as Pulp Fiction, The Basketball Diaries and Trainspotting.
The opening sequence to the film features Renton talking about choosing things which conform to the Dominant Ideology: “Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family...”; things which the majority of people do and choose. Renton, however “chose something else, and the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?”. This is accompanied by an exciting, rebellious chase scene, which could be considered as glamorising heroin and the Heroin-Chic lifestyle. Audiences who enjoy action in films may look up to the hero (theorist), and find their exciting lifestyle desirable – like Renton’s, and fulfil personal integrative needs (Uses and Gratifications). This would glamorise the heroin lifestyle, and encourage others to follow in Renton’s footsteps rather than following the legal, dominant ideology which is represented as considerably more dull.
The beginning of the film may be considered to glamorise heroin addiction, as it is light-hearted, amusing and entertaining. The first bar fight scene is comical, when Begby throws a glass over the balcony. The...
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