Someone once told me that pity is a sign of disrespect; that the emotion itself insinuates the person being pitied is of lesser value to the person making the judgment. In a way, it is to suggest a feeling of, “Oh, you poor, horrible, wretched thing, you.” In no way, though, does pity emote the desire to help the “victim” out of their deprived state. This is advice I’ve had little need for in my life. I don’t tend to pity anyone. That is until I saw the movie Blow.
Somehow that chunk of knowledge got pulled out of my memory drawer and put into use by the end of this film. The movie tells the true-life story of George Jung, an opportunistic drug trafficker who exploded onto the scene during the 1970’s and 80’s. In fact, this pioneer of sorts and his partners were so prolific during their time that the character, played in an embarrassingly accurate wardrobe worn by Johnny Depp, in one part boasts, “if you did coke at a party sometime in the 80’s, chances are it came from us.”
I don’t think this movie tries to sell its main character as noble. That’s probably too far a stretch for anybody to believe. But the filmmakers do unexplainably try to make you feel sorry for him by the end of the story.
And there lies the critical flaw of this movie.
Without going into too much detail, let’s just say the film tells a story of greed, love, friendship and ultimate betrayal — with the main character, George, getting most of the punishment in the end. It’s a sad story, but one that’s not without some justice. After all, there really is nothing more despicable than elevating yourself at the expense of others, without a single thought towards the consequences.
This movie never addresses a fact that is obvious from the very first snort. The main character is a low life, self-serving simpleton, who willfully profits himself by inflicting harm on others. And on top of that, he’s arrogant about it. “I’m good at what I do,” he says to his father, played by Ray Liotta, “Really good.”
Of course, he didn’t personally murder anyone, or force anyone to try cocaine against their will. But he did make many deaths, whether they be related to overdose or a byproduct of a violent drug subculture all possible. With all of this unexplored, the filmmakers still have the gall to provoke sympathy for the unfortunate circumstances that befall George.
I know they wanted me to be shedding a tear for him. There were no clues otherwise, save for some unintended laughter from the audience.
All I could feel, though, was pity.