Representing the “Real”
Drug policy is haunted by the eternal return of notions that addicts comprise an alien species. The popular concerns about domestic crime and subversion that emerged in the wake of World War II associated drug use with deviant sexuality, failures of normative gender, and racial mixing through the figure of the addicted adolescent. Adolescent addicts were liminal figures representing the familiar and the foreign-you might harbor one in your home without knowing it. The postwar experience of addiction filled in previously drawn lines of racial and sexual alterity. Few recall the proliferation of popular culture depicting addiction in the 1950s-the pulp fiction novels, magazines for women and parents, soft-core porn, educational filmstrips, and the entertainment industry’s output. I have often been asked, “Was there drug addiction in the 1950s?” The official story credited the punitive policies of the 1950s with eliminating the traffic.