There has been a gradual increase in the socio-cultural acceptance of marijuana due to more awareness about the falsities of the anti-weed propaganda as well as the legalisation of marijuana in many places around the world. A major reason behind the popularisation of cannabis culture is undoubtedly the prevalence of stoner comedies in pop culture.
While many films involving marijuana usage were often marketed as anti-drug movies (including the famous 1936 film Reefer Madness), even those that preached against weed have been warmly accepted by future generations of stoners as hilarious self-parodies. With time, the genre kept garnering more attention and love.
Popular projects such as Pineapple Express and The Big Lebowski have become important parts of popular culture for various reasons. In fact, some fans of The Big Lebowski were so mesmerised by the stoner philosophy of the film’s central figure – The Dude – that they even started a religion based on him.
As it turns out, Quentin Tarantino is also a fan of the genre and actually loves stoner comedies. Not only that, he even named multiple stoner comedies in a list of his favourite films of the 1990s and the 2000s. He placed these comedies alongside the likes of other iconic productions such as The Matrix and Fight Club.
In his own films, Tarantino formulated a unique aesthetic framework through which he contextualised drug use and substance abuse (most famously in Pulp Fiction). Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights was on Tarantino’s list and while that film explores the horrors of cocaine, it was followed by a mention of Richard Linklater’s iconic stoner comedy.
Titled Dazed and Confused, Linklater’s 1993 masterpiece is an essential coming-of-age classic which is a manifestation of the iconic slacker philosophy that is evident in many of Linklater’s works. An indispensable cult gem, the film follows the unbridled hedonism of the last days of school.
Although it is cited as one of the greatest high school movies ever made, Linklater had other intentions when he set out to make Dazed and Confused. The film is a nostalgic experience for many viewers but the filmmaker did not want it to be that way, intending to make a realistic exploration of the ennui embedded within the teenage condition.
Commenting on the cultural phenomenon that Dazed and Confused sparked, Linklater explained the paradox of indulging in a commentary against something: “I thought the 1970s sucked. Dazed was supposed to be an anti-nostalgic movie. But it’s like trying to make an anti-war movie – just by depicting it, you make it look fun.”
Tarantino also included the 1995 film Friday as one of his favourite stoner comedies of all time. Co-writers Ice Cube and DJ Pooh came up with this comedy classic because they were extremely frustrated with the popular depiction of Black neighbourhoods in American films which were characterised by violence and crime.
The ’90s was probably the most important decade in Tarantino’s career and he considered Friday to be among his top preferences from the decade. Alongside other classics such as The Matrix and Fight Club, Tarantino expressed his admiration for this essential stoner comedy and claimed that it was one of the greatest works from the ’90s.
While elaborating on the legacy of the film, director F. Gary Gray said: “I think it’s because no matter where you’re from, you can identify with those characters. Everyone can identify with the bully, the neighbourhood beauty that you had a crush on, and the trouble-making friend. It’s the same as Leave it to Beaver, if you look at what is familiar.”