I can’t get enough of the 2001 film Blow, which is one of my favorite dramas. Johnny Depp who is one of my favorite actors, plays George Jacob Jung who was a major player in the cocaine trade in the United States during the 1970’s and early 1980’s. I find this film very intriguing because it is a true story based on a single man who grew up in a working class family during the 1950’s and was able to gain enough power, wealth and knowledge to eventually establish the American cocaine market. George Jung’s father was a hard worker who owned his own plumbing and heating company, also known as George’s hero as a little boy. As hard as his father worked though, he never earned enough money to make George’s mother happy. Eventually business got slow and it wasn’t enough, so his father lost everything and their family went bankrupt. From that moment on, George knew he never wanted to live like that and becoming poor would be the last thing he did, even though his father always taught him that money had no worth. Therefore, he got as far as possible and moved to California in 1968 with his best friend Tuna with $300 in his pocket. California introduced a new world to him with new liberated and independent ideas. George needed money, wanted it fast and selling marijuana in California was the answer to all his problems. His girlfriend Barbara at the time, introduced George to Derek Foreal who was a Manhattan Beach legend, to score dope. It was no nickel and dime game with Derek, it was serious business and he started selling large right away. George who earned the nickname “Boston George” and his best friend became the Kings of Manhattan, with a great reputation. Eventually, they expanded and moved their grass back east. College kids on the east coast couldn’t get pot like this and they had money to spend. George and his partner Derek decided to move 100 pounds a week through his girlfriend Barbara who was a stewardess. His product started selling at a rapid rate, it was a feeding frenzy and from that point on it was no longer small potatoes. He therefore went straight to the source, cut out the middle man and went to Mexico. It was a great time in his life, he worked hard and played even harder. His next endeavour was Chicago, but that was the end of his reign when he was busted with 666 pounds of marijuana with the intent to distribute and was sentenced to five years in the penitentiary. Prison for George was a crime school. George and his cellmate Diego were two criminal minds with experience of breaking the law and smuggling. They formulated a plan in prison to smuggle cocaine into the United States from Colombia, which would start as soon as George was released in 1976. This product from Colombia was so pure that George and his old partner Derek, sold 110 pounds of blow in 36 hours. George was a legend now and was working directly with the head drug lords of Colombia. Cocaine exploded among the American culture like an atomic bomb and George and his crew were a huge part in the making. It was a market-place that George created, which eventually lead to consequences that dramatically changed his life by affecting his family, health and future. George Jung’s gain of wealth and power was eventually diminished by having to pay the price.
There are many ethical issues presented in this film. George’s views on drug use and addiction and crime and violence are two ongoing dilemmas presented throughout the story. Cocaine exploded among the American culture like an atomic bomb. It started in Hollywood and moved east in no time. Everyone was doing it, from ordinary people to celebrities, politicians and other authority figures. If you snorted cocaine in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s, there was an 85% chance it came from George and his crew. Cocaine was a status drug for the wealthy during this time and even the poor. With the rise of cocaine, came the rise of crime. From hotel rooms to alleyways, coke was consumed by a large percentage of the American population, even considering the potential toxicity of the drug. Blow was a dangerously addictive drug that grew to a feverish pitch and George Jung played a large role in this outburst. While George was living large, he didn’t stop to think that what he was doing was wrong, even though millions were left broke and mentally debilitated after years of ongoing use of this drug. The financial and health state of many sank to an ultimate low, leading to many deaths across America. The cocaine epidemic presented widespread cocaine trafficking and violent drug wars among dealers resulted in crime and violence. Power and money were the name of the game, and if the ones cut short were the ones charge, the results were only negative. George also used the system to his advantage. He did not make ethical decisions in or out of jail. Jail was known as a crime school for him. He went into jail with a bachelor of marijuana and came out with a doctorate of cocaine. His timed served was replaced with corrupt plans for the future, along with spreading his knowledge to other criminal minds about smuggling illegal drugs.
George’s ethical positions remain similar throughout the movie. He had no respect for the law. He didn’t believe that his consumption nor his distribution of cocaine was wrong. George didn’t take into consideration that he was harming millions, as long as he was living a lavish and powerful life, money was his only concern. Working with other drug lords, made it inevitable to avoid violence. His criminal mind set perceived his knowledge of smuggling as tools and the key to success, not just for him but for many. When teaching others with a lower educational status in prison, he taught them about the history of America, along with his history and knowledge of smuggling illegal drugs. He crippled the system even more than it already was, by arming convicted criminals with more illicit knowledge that would detriment the future of our society.
A fallacy that is presented in this film is when George presents his deceptive and false notions and beliefs regarding the law to the court, when he was sentenced to five years in prison for smuggling 666 pounds of marijuana across the Chicago border. He was accused of possession and intent to distribute, and when he was asked to address the court he pleaded not guilty and said that he didn’t believe what he did was a crime. He thought it was illogical and irresponsible that the judge send him to prison. In his own words, he said that “when you think about it what did I really do? I crossed an imaginary line with a bunch of plants.” He didn’t believe he was an outlaw and believed he was never weak and always strong. He had a power mind set and believed that it wasn’t him that the law should be looking for. In response the judge jokingly responded saying that although his concepts were interesting, he still broke the law because the line he crossed was real and the plants he brought with him were illegal.
Although George had a criminal mindset for the majority of his life, at the end of the story he has a shift in his perspective. His opinions of everything he did not being wrong, shifted to everything not being worth it. Sooner or later, he was strippped of his money and his power, that resulted in the loss of his wife and his most prized possession, his daughter. He said in the end he was left with pieces of his heart missing, but when he goes to sleep at night he can still crack a smile knowing that his ambition far exceeded his talent. Would George have done things differently? Yes, I believe that he would have done things differently. I also believe that he still would have done what he did, but just in a different manner to change the outcome of his situation. George Jung is currently serving in Federal Correctional Institution, Fort Dix until his scheduled release in November of 2014. Money and power take the best of many, but personally my family, friends and promise of a positive future would outweigh anything.