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Full disclosure this particular article is different. If you want a strident take down of Ann Nocenti's (former writer for Daredevil and current writer for Catwoman and Katana) Catwoman, you can check out My Regular Catwoman Reviews, and if you want something that points out some positives of Ann Nocenti's take on the first feline of comics, then you can read my article, “A Defense of Nocenti's Catwoman,” but this particular article is less about comics and more philosophical and investigative as I meander around the topic of how drugs might be affecting the current series of Catwoman.
My thinking on this subject started about a month ago. Every day I scour the internet looking for articles relating to various Bat titles so I can update BatWatch with the latest breaking news. While searching for Catwoman articles one day, I came across an interview with Ann Nocenti on women in the comic book market, and in the introduction of this article, the writer was listing Nocenti's truly impressive accomplishments, but in the midst of this came a mention that Nocenti once worked as an editor and writer for something called, “High Times.”
I read over that, and then went back and thought, “Now, what was that again?”
One quick Google search later, and I found that High Times was exactly what I had imagined, an online magazine dedicated to pot and other “psychedelic” drugs.
Suddenly in my mind, everything clicked into place. Of course Nocenti is on drugs. Have you ever read one of her comics? She practically has to be! Though all her her work seems a bit off, and I suspect it would all read better if you were stoned, Catwoman #14 was especially trippy with most scenes failing to make sense on any level. I even said in my review of that issue, “I literally think that Nocenti might be on drugs.”
My interest was piqued, and I was determined to learn more. What exactly had Nocenti advocated, and how might her drug use affect her writing? I needed to learn more.
What's Drugs Got To Do with It?
When it comes to drugs, I'm about as innocent as they come. I've never taken anything illegal. For that matter, I've never taken a drink of alcohol or smoked a cigarette; I simply never saw the benefit. I'm moderately satisfied with my brain, liver and lungs, and what few complaints I have on my body's imperfections would likely only worsen if I consumed various controlled substances, so why bother?
That being said, I don't care if someone wants to take drugs. I'm a Libertarian which means I want as little government interference in my life as possible. My view, to use a semi-famous phrase, is if it does not break my leg or pick my pocket, what business is it of mine? In other words, you should be allowed to do whatever the crap you want to do with your life as long is does not take away anybody else's rights to life, liberty and property. If you want to smoke pot, go ahead. If you want to smoke crack, go ahead. If you want to blow your brains out with a shotgun, more power to you. I'm not saying I would support those actions; in fact, I would try very hard to talk you out of them, but I'm not for making a law criminalizing any of that behavior. The Libertarian view is all about personal freedom and personal responsibility, and being truly free means you have the ability to do some stupid things.
However, there is also that whole responsibility end of things, and there we find the part that most people don't like. I'm fine with all drugs being legal and people having the freedom to do whatever they choose to do with their bodies, but the flipside of that freedom is that people have to be willing to take responsibility for the consequences of their own actions. If you become addicted to crack for instance, there is a good chance you will end up without any money and in very poor health. The Libertarian view on how government should deal with a drug addict is very simple. When the poor addict has ran out of money and luck, and he has to decide between feeding his addiction and feeding his body, the government looks at him and says, “Sucks to be you,” and goes back about its business. You can't truly have freedom unless you are willing to take the responsibility that goes along with it, and that means dealing with the consequences of your actions.
Currently, the United States gives neither freedom nor responsibility in this area. The government will tell you exactly what you can and cannot put in your body, and when you get down on your luck for whatever reason, the government will give you food, housing, and health care. I don't like either end of this. Personally, I think everybody should be able to get stoned if they so choose, but I'm not going to be for legalizing a single recreational drug until the government stops paying people simply because they exist.
Ah, and one last thing before I stop with the politics. Lest you think I and all other Libertarians are all heartless douche bags, let me point out that I only said the government should not step in to help those in need. Individuals, on the other hand, should definitely step in to help those that need it. Again, it's about individual responsibility. Sure, it's easier to shrug off your individual responsibility to help those in need by saying, “Hey government, feed these people for me,” but not only is that a rather lazy way to do things, it is also extremely inefficient. What makes more sense? Is it better for you to use your own money and your own discretion to find those people in your community that really need a hand up rather than and a handout and personally help those in need, or is it better to send your money to Washington where a bunch of elitist lawyers make a confusing set of parameters on who should and should not have aid before they send your money back to the community through several layers of bureaucracy and force the individuals needing help to jump through several levels of paperwork Hell before finally handing the money to the individuals in need without really having any idea whether or not those receiving the funds are working families struggling to make ends meat or dirt bags who live of the government dole keeping all the while keeping in mind that the government takes out an extremely large chunk of this potential charitable donation to fund their needlessly bloated system which amounts to nothing more than an inefficient middleman to a simple act of charity? Which makes more sense?
Investigating the Pothead
I assume that nobody really objects to me making the logical leap that Ann Nocenti uses marijuana. After all, this magazine essentially boils down to a largely political news outlet, and those working for this type of media organization tend to be of one mind on their central agenda. Would you believe that the guy who edits the NRA magazine doesn't own a firearm, or that someone writing for PETA would bet on a dog fight? I mean, it's theoretically possible, but what are the odds? If you are actively promoting an agenda for a living, there is a pretty good chance you are a participator in the movement, right?
Though I did not immediately go into full investigation mode, I soon found myself wanting to look into Ann Nocenti history with High Times a little more in depth, but sadly, not much was uncovered. Nocenti did write for High Times under the name Annie Nocenti, but I could only find two articles from her. If there were any others that she wrote, they have since been deleted. In the two articles, one was advocating some perfectly legal plant which nonetheless gave a nice high, and the other was even less memorable. I even dug into Nocenti's past works in other fields and on other topics hoping I would find something scandalous because my original expectations had been thwarted, but again, I was pretty much let down. The most interesting tidbit I could find was that Nocenti gave instructions to people protesting the War in Iraq, but who cares about that?
With that avenue thwarted, I turned my attention to High Times. Perhaps they advocated for something more detrimental than pot?
At first, it appeared that this was also a dry well. Looking at the home page, you see pot, pot, and more pot. If you peel back a layer or two, you still find pot. We all know what pot does. It temporarily makes you lazy and a bit stupid, but beyond that, it's got no significant negative consequences, so it's pretty hard to get worked up about it. However, the homepage of high times says that it covers “marijuana and other psychedelic drugs.” As someone mostly ignorant about the drug culture, I wondered, just what is a psychedelic drug? The short version? A psychedelic drug is a drug that gives you a hallucination or altered perceptions including little gems you may have heard of like PCP, psilocin (the active ingredient in shrooms) and LCD.
Does High Times actually support any of these drugs?
Well, let's be clear. They do not out and out advocate any of these substances because that would be, if not a crime outright, bordering close to a crime, right? I'm not sure what the exact law is on advocating crime, but it certainly is not a position you want on record, so High Times does not officially endorse any drugs, but it certainly talks about some drugs in a positive light. High Times clearly says it covers information on psychedelic drugs in general, but does it portray these big three drugs in a positive or negative light, and just what are the consequences of using these drugs?
Out of the three, this is by far the worst in my admittedly limited knowledge. I know PCP can make you do some crazy things.
HT Stance: In line with that, PCP seems to be the one psychedelic drug that High Times does not treat positively. I actually even saw one person interviewed on the site about his drug habits who spoke negatively about PCP which is pretty crazy considering everything else shown on the site. However, High Times' less than glowing opinion of PCP was not so strong as to keep PCP users from knowing how to pass a drug test for the substance, so it's hard to say that they are really against it.
Negative Effects: PCP often causes people to go into violent rages where they can inflict damage on themselves or others. Chronic users often develop memory problems, speech difficulties, anxiety problems, paranoia, and recurrent hallucinations. Overdosing causes death.
I'm not sure I've ever heard of psilocin, but I think everybody has heard of shrooms, right? Well, psilocin is the thing that makes shrooms so shroomy.
HT Stance: To quote High Times, “It' wouldn't be a psychedelic issue (of High Times) without shrooms.” Oh yeah, they love shrooms.
Negative Effects: Immediate negative effects sometimes occur and include weakness, loss of body control, nausea and vomiting. Overdose can cause panic attacks and psychosis. Long term effects sometimes occur which involve flashbacks and persistent hallucinations. In addition, shroom users sometimes take the wrong shrooms and poison themselves.
I knew a guy who took LSD when he was in college. He was drinking, and his friend thought it would be funny to spike his drink with some acid. (LSD) It caused a schizophrenic break with him which, I later found out, is not as uncommon as you might think. He is now in his late forties, and he is living at an assisted living home. He's a real nice guy, and his drugs help him stay mostly in the real world. He'll go along talking about day to day happenings, and then out of the blue, he'll mention how Elvis and Satan walked into his kitchen the other day.
HT Stance: They freakin' love LSD. The whole site is full of interviews with proponents of LSD, praises for every artist who got high and drew something or wrote a song, and mourning obituaries for famous LSD users that passed into early graves.
Negative Effects: Even on a surface level, LSD is not really a fun drug. The drug seizes control of people's emotions and leads them on a trip which may be a heck of a lot of fun or might be a living nightmare. The length of the trip varies and perceptions change too, so if you are having a bad trip, it might last for what seems like forever. As if this were not bad enough, flashbacks occur which throw people back into the emotional state of past trips. The more LSD is used, the more common are flashback occurrences. LSD is believed to be responsible for triggering mood disorders and schizophrenia in people with biological predispositions towards those mental disorders.
Back to Nocenti and Catwoman
Coming full circle back to Ann Nocenti, I'm left with two main thoughts.
First, Ann Nocenti sucks. I already disrespected her as a writer; I thought she was mediocre at best, but now I dislike her as a person. Again, it's a free country and it should be even more free as far as I'm concerned, but that does not mean I think it is not a lousy action to promote a lifestyle which has proven to be destructive to many people.
Second, my question lingers. Does this affect Catwoman? I cannot prove that Ann Nocenti has ever taken a single illegal substance, but surely she has and surely she does. She was not a young woman experimenting (not that it is to play around with this stuff at any age) when she was working for High Times, and unless she has had some sort of revelation that never made the news, there is no reason to think her lifestyle has changed in the years since, and what of Selina? Are her stories getting shafted because Nocenti is stoned while writing? Again, I can't prove anything, but I suspect drugs probably do play a role in Nocenti's writing. Try reading Catwoman #14 and telling me that was written by somebody sober. I just don't buy it.
Nocenti has almost certainly taken illegal drugs, and based on her writing now, I would say she still is. I think she should have every right to take what she wants and advocate what she wants without government interference, but I have to say, I think her work on High Times is pretty lousy, and I think its a shame she is writing Catwoman both because of her work with High Times and because of her work with Selina Kyle.
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