Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy (2021)

crack cocaine corruption and conspiracy poster 2021 movie documentary
8.0 Overall Score

Solid outline of how the war on drugs evolved and destroyed a population

Could have benefited more from exploring the current response to the opioid crisis closer

Movie Info

Movie Name: Crack:  Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy

Studio: Netflix

Genre(s): Documentary

Release Date(s): January 11, 2021

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

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Promoted by politicians on both sides of the aisle

Cocaine is the drug of choice for the upper class.  When crack-cocaine comes along at a fraction of the price, crack spreads among the African-American population.  It is a means to get rich for people in bad situations and the drugs flow freely…until people start dying that are noticed by America.  A war on drugs erupts and the people paying the price are those who are the poorest and most vulnerable.  With numbers rising in prison and the popular anti-drug message spreading among Democrats and Republics, crack is a villain that seemingly everyone can get behind…but the real problem isn’t addressed in the communities affect.

Directed by Stanley Nelson, Crack:  Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy is a Netflix documentary.  The documentary was released on January 11, 2021, and received positive reviews.

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…fueled by the media

I grew up in the heart of “Just Say No”.  A police officer would come in with a diorama of drugs and tell you how each drug would hook you.  Nancy Reagan would go on Diff’rent Strokes and tell you drugs are bad.  Ronald Reagan would appear on TV and tell you how horrible things were.  Despite living in the country, drug dealers lurked around every corner, and they were out to hook you.  Of course in the scenarios, the dealers were black and dangerous…it was the standard message to kids.  As the years have passed, this view has changed and the real problems of addiction and criminal punishment have evolved…Crack:  Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy is a good guide to how this all happened.

As the documentary explores, the war on drugs didn’t grow in a vacuum, and it wasn’t limited to Republicans or Democrats, but it did had a very tight tie to white America.  While African-Americans saw their neighborhoods falling apart, little was done to explore the reasons behind the drugs and the “why” of the drugs, but the punishment was what was publicly seen and shown.  This also resulted in the cannibalization of some African-Americans by other African-Americans who like a chunk of white America believed the message being put out by the Presidents and the law enforcement…it was a sorry state.

crack cocaine corruption and conspiracy mass incarceration

Leads to mass incarceration with people incarcerated for varying degrees of guilt

The documentary does a good job outlining the path to crack-cocaine and looks at how the government turned a blind eye to cocaine through events like the Iran-Contra affair and other areas where it benefited them.  Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Biden all took the path to “Just Say No”…and vilified the people involved.  Fighting drugs was a no-brainer…drugs are bad.  Was it all the leaders’ fault?  Not necessarily, but once the ball started rolling, it wasn’t going to stop and just added people on every side.

The documentary would have benefited a bit more by exploring the response to the opioid epidemic.  It does come up in the documentary briefly near the end, but the difference in response is the shocking and disheartening aspect of the “new” drug war.  As the documentary does point out, there were a number of whites that used crack-cocaine, but the media and the police didn’t focus their attacks on them.  The opioid epidemic caught up a lot of white people and the approach and the idea that addiction was a sickness versus a choice was much more readily accepted…something that would really have driven home the point of the documentary.

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It is all about who controls the imagery

Is it all the fault of everyone involved?  Yes and no.  The drugs were bad.  They were tearing communities apart and something had to be done.  It was a lot of “what’s happening?” instead of “why?” At the time, the idea of drug addiction as a sickness wasn’t really something you talked about.  People could be alcoholics, but drug users went to extreme means to get their illegal drugs.  It was a double standard, but it was a widely accepted double standard that is still fought today.  Documentaries like Crack:  Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy seek to demystify the problem surrounding drugs and drug enforcement, but unfortunately, many of the people who need to see this won’t or are already pre-set in their beliefs…which is a shame because some of the information provided in the documentary could be eye-opening for them and could start conversations that need to be had.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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