As Uruguay legalizes marijuana, Pinar & Viola examine marijuana's pop culture moment
It's been few years since we witnessed the iconic marijuana plant print pop up on celebrities, the catwalk, in the streets and on the internet; we’ve even listened to odes entirely dedicated to it. We take a close look at where it’s sprouted, and speculated on why the humble cannabis plant has become a current style x-effect.
In the airport, on the beach, at the party, on stage, and on countless other occasion, we have seen Rihanna in lavish display of her love for marijuana. She isn’t the only celebrity PR around; last year, Lady Gaga dressed as a marijuana plant for Halloween, and a month before that, she lit up onstage in Amsterdam and promised concertgoers she would try to convince Oprah and President Obama as to the “medical wonders of marijuana”.
Lately, we’ve also seen marijuana insignias sprout on Miley Cyrus' birthday cake, sprinkled on Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose’s socks, plastered on M.I.A’s sunglasses at a gig, printed on dowdy dresses worn Devil Wears Prada actress Emily Blunt and rogue Girls Aloud member Kimberly Walsh – and even feature prominently as Brooke Candy's butt ink. Aside from its visual presence, marijuana has been namechecked in songs by Lana Del Rey, Kid Cudi, Missy Elliott and the king of weed, Snoop Lion.
Fashion has also contributed to marijuana’s new, pop-friendly face. In 2008, Adidas put out its special hemp edition shoes; in 2010, Sonia Rykiel and Opening Ceremony-stocked Gerlan Jeans featured the seven leaf plant on their catwalks. From the fashion perspective of a more online insider, knee length marijuana leaf socks have recently become the fav teen selfie supplement. Shirts with the YSL logo reimagined with weed leaves made Tumblr headlines, the Adidas/ Cannabis ha-ha joke shirts popped up in every corner, and the repurposed Marc Jacobs weed meme became classic.
One heavyweight contender in the creation of weed’s new image is probably Terry Richardson – his portraits of Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Rick Ross and Snoop Lion wreathed in rings of smoke or puffing on a blunt are sensual, sexy and powerful. After all, we all know that what is forbidden, profane, or secret can be very attractive – especially if it involves hiding something technically illegal in plain sight.
"But coke, heroin, crystal meth and, to a lesser extent, MDMA aren’t exactly having star moments right now – at least, not as fashion prints, stage accessories and red carpet details"
Transgression is good in the image business
If we accept the association of the forbidden with desire, maybe we can also conclude that transgression is a powerful tool for image endorsement. In times where countries are softening their stance on weed – today, Uruguay has just legalized the production, sale and possession of marijuana – maybe brands and celebrities are happy to associate themselves with it, hoping they’ll be seen as pioneers the day it’s legalized?
But coke, heroin, crystal meth and, to a lesser extent, MDMA aren’t exactly having star moments right now – at least, not as fashion prints, stage accessories and red carpet details. In America, the drug is still a fiercely debated political topic, but its newer, socially acceptable incarnation as medical marijuana lends some creative leeway.
Not "NOW!", but being in the "here and now"
We’re experiencing a state of transit in our times. We’re fighting to amend the ways we handle ourselves, our surroundings and the environment, and replacing individualism with community, sustainability and a newfound urge to be in the here and now.
As kids of the contemporary moment, we both feel that capitalism and its greed have silenced our gut instincts and intuition. The overwhelming presence of “organic” anything into supermarket shopping lists, the rise of alternative medicine, the introduction of yoga and meditation into our daily routine – they’ve made us realize that society is stepping into a more peaceful, mindful, even mystic skin. With its fiercely-contested effects on memory and mental health, marijuana creates an impairment of short-term memory and concentration, resulting in a feeling of relaxation (its longer-term effects are still debated). If we’re trying to step into a more spiritual level in the near future, maybe that’s why pop culture keeps on flirting with cannabis?
Speculating on legalization
Like everything else, the involvement of politics makes life more exciting but also more complicated and corrupt. Until the early 20th century, cannabis wasn’t considered as poison – nor was it illegal. Our minds wonder if there’s a link between the ban on cannabis and industrialization, with its relentless pursuit of productivity and focus? And when we talk about the politics of marijuana, scare politics inevitably enter the picture – just look at the reefer madness in America during the early 20th century. Fear can be a strong weapon in the hands of politicians – so where does the legalization of a substance consumed for euphoria and sensations of calm fit into the politics of fear, and its agenda?
Pinar is from Turkey, where she spent a night under arrest for smoking weed in a music festival and Viola is from Holland, the country who turned the illegal drug into a fiscal revenue and tourist attraction. And you? Where do you come from?