An Uncommon Drug Dealer; or: How I Became a Regulations-Atheist and Learned to Sift Evidence and to Calculate Contingencies Like a Man; but in any case
A Review of Dallas Buyers Club
By Alex Linder [index
March 7, 2014
[Great movie. If you haven't seen it, see it before you read this detailed review.]
Freedom and responsibility - or regulation and slavery.
Those are the paired options. Pick one.
Ron Woodroof picked the first. This is his story.
This is a fantastic movie, and the whitest in spirit I've seen in years. It involves a Texan lowlife who gets what queers mis-renamed AIDS (from the original Gay-Related Immunodeficiency Disease - GRID) and how he goes about keeping himself alive. There he conflicts with the FDA, whose main mission in life is to cover its ass and to make sure its ability to regulate hotdog contents (and everything else, including all medicine/supplements/foodstuffs) goes unchallenged by mere humans.
This is not only the whitest, it's the most American
movie I've seen in a long, long time. Just to say that is to risk that readers who don't know any better will lump me in with the flaggots and patriotards. But there's no other way to put it. Woodroof consistently ignores authority. He mocks and attacks and disregards doctors. He repeatedly rips IVs out of his arm. He ignores FDA regulations or finds clever ways around them. He disrupts meetings. He does his own research, and draws government-unapproved conclusions. He prints up and passes out his findings. He interrupts press conferences and petitions judges. Whatever he needs to do to remove obstacles between sick people like him and the medicine they need to keep living, he does. Whether it's legal or not. Whether his friends like his company or not. Whether authority approves or not.
That's the American spirit. Seizing the initiative. Being practical, honest, helpful, enterprising, creative and daring.
All these things exhibited in spades by early, real Americans are exhibited in a direct and manly and pleasing way by this gaunt and grimy little Texas outlaw.
The America we've become loves to hate Texas and Texans. Why? Because it fears them. They don't need its central authority. They have the audacity to rely on their own authority. They don't need the higher liberal wisdom out of D.C. They aren't willing to accept Bureaucrat Jesus as their higher power the way the tedious totalitarian vegans and assorted urban wimps and academic tools and journalist apparatchiks are. Texans are men. Liberals? Eh...not so much.
Did I say this is a great movie? This is a great movie.
McConaughey won best actor for his portrayal of Ron Woodroof and he certainly deserves it.
* * *
Now let's dig in and really look at some of the contents, and think about them. What do you say, li'l reader-friend? You up for that? Of course you are....
The scene opens to an American flag held by a kid on horseback circling a rodeo ring. What could be Americaner than that?
Then it moves to Matt McConaughey fucking a woman...wait...a woman and a man...in one of the darkened bull chutes. So we know right off we're dealing with an omnisexual. No morals, either. Electrician/roustabout/rodeo rider Ronald Woodroof is booking bets on one of the rides. Talking about Rock Hudson being a cocksmoker, letting all that fine Hollywood pussy go to waste. Mere minutes after fucking a dude in a rodeo stall! His rider loses, he takes off running to escape his customers. He punches a cop to get himself arrested and escape the lynch mob at his heels.
Woodroof's character is established in the first five minutes: he's a scrawny little Texas no-account, but with a sharp brain, a strong will and uncontrolled appetites.
Back at his place, he passes out on the floor; Wranglers so slack you can't make out a buttock. McConaughey lost a ton of weight for this role, he's truly gaunt and skinny-sickly as needed in this AIDS pic. Very believable; totally committed; perfectly executed. He should win an Oscar for this role. He did.
The skinny cowboy coughs and passes out, hears high-pitched buzz as he starts to fade. He wakes up in hospital.
"We didn't test your blood for drugs."
"Well, good. That ain't any y'all's business anyway."
That's the American spirit - mind your own business
- and leave me to mine
. FDA and DEA are unAmerican, by historical standards. They only retain their rights who are willing to defend them. Like all good Southerners, McConaughey responds instantly to any threat to his honor, his privacy, his friends. Also like many Southerners, McConaughey's Woodroof is both honorable and dishonorable in his behavior. He's kind of a character mullet. Honorable up front; dishonorable in the back.
That's one of the best things about this movie: the characters come across as real people. Dallas Buyers Club
is not a morality play. There are bad guys and good guys, but all characters are plausibly motivated. The good guys aren't angels, just men acting rationally-pragmatically to solve a problem; and the bad guys aren't devils, they're people following protocols and laws devised to offer genuine protection. Even the transvestite, Rayon, played very skillfully by Jared Leto, isn't over the top, which is about the only time I've ever seen that. I hate transvestites and sex freaks, but the Rayon character is plausible as a real person with real motivations, not just your typical drag-queen-being-a-drama-queen.
Woodroof has swagger:
- "Your T-cell count is down to 9. Frankly, we're surprised you're still alive." ... "We estimate you have 30 days left. Put your affairs in order."
"Fucking 30 days, motherfuckers. Let me give y'all a newsflash. There ain't nothing out there that can kill Ron Woodroof in thirty days."
He just leaves the hospital. In a certain sense, you're as sick as you decide you are. It's not physically true, but it's always figuratively true. Woodroof never plays passive, he always takes the initiative, like a real white man does.
Nor is there a religious bone in his body. Not a prayer is made. Not a single visit to church or from a preacher. The one scene in which it appears he's petitioning Lord Standby over votive candles...pulls back to reveal he's in strip club. Can you cause your own finger to crook? Then what need have ye of God? Religion is unmanly. That's why it's so popular with women of both sexes - weaklings who prefer to wait and hope rather than take and make. Religion has no part of this picture, because it's about a man about the manly business of making things happen.
So what does this bad ol' boy do after his diagnosis, which he rejects? He snorts coke, drinks Jack, parties with hookers. It's July 1985. His journey is just beginning.
Despite his bravado in the hospital about mixed up blood tests, he knows he's bullshitting. He begins to research AIDS. He recalls screwing a junkie, and realizes that in fact he really does have HIV. Not just fags get it. To Woodroof, the fact that he has sex with men doesn't make him a fag since he doesn't act or dress or speak like a fag. At least, I think that's the mentality. Because he appeared to believe he didn't have HIV because he wasn't a fag. But if you screw men, that does kind of make you a fag, almost by definition, if you're a man. This was the one thing in the movie I found a little confusing, if it's not as I portray it.
At this point, I might take advantage of my age and reprise some GRID history for you younger than me. If you don't remember the eighties, here's what happened in a nutshell. The term 'homophobe' was apparently invented in 1969. But it was never heard anywhere until the mid-late eighties. Reagan was president. Queers in NYC and San Francisco began to show up with weird skin lesions, Kaposi's sarcomas. It was 'gay cancer.' The name GRID
was created. Soon political fags had their mainstream media buddies change it to AIDS
, the better to sell the disease to the public. Fags whined and whined because Reagan didn't mention AIDS in public speeches. They simply refused to take responsibility for their own behavior in spreading the disease. As documented in the first major book about AIDS, Randy Shilts's And The Band Played On
, in which he, among other noxious doings, documents his fags' community refusal to let the politicians take the most basic public hygiene measures to prevent the spread of the disease, namely shutting down its incubators - the queer bathhouses in San Francisco, to be most particular. So fags didn't want to own AIDS. They wanted to blame the disease on Reagan, and threaten the public through the conniving media that anyone could get it, so better cough up disproportionate research funding. And that's pretty much how it went. Queer love means never having to say you're sorry. It means no one ever describes your behavior honestly, let alone forces you to accept responsibility for it. Fags spread AIDS. Fags endangered the public. Fags got rewarded with a hugely
disproportionate share of research funding - something that continues to this day, nearly forty years later. Such is the power of Big Fag and backers.
That's the nutshell. Read the thick Shilts book if you want the details.
Now, the first drug that really popped up on the AIDS scene as a potential solution or at least disease inhibitor was AZT. In DBC
, the doctor says, and I assume it's true, AZT was originally developed and then shelved in the sixties as a potential cancer treatment. Essentially it does an agent orange on human cells. And if any of the cells are cancer, they die too! As the general said, In order to save the village, it was necessary to destroy it.
It's simply too toxic for people to get any lasting benefit from.
But...this was not known or appreciated in the early-mid eighties. Fags were dying. Fags were desperate. They wanted AZT at any price. They protested the FDA until it relented. Then they started taking AZT and dying pretty quickly. The most famous opponent of AZT was queer jew playwright Larry Kramer, who abstained from AZT, and believed that was why he was still alive while all his friends were dead. He was the founder of the main fag activist organization back then, ACT UP
All this stuff was the stuff of mainstream media coverage back in the day, three decades ago. This is the time period in which this movie takes place - 1985 forward.
Dallas Buyers Club
dramatizes the essential problem of regulation: everything comes down to someone
making a choice. Who should that be? Given that humans have a religious belief, a real faith, in authority, they prefer the comfortable lie -- that degreed, professional authority can make us safe via laws and regulation
-- to the uncomfortable but manly and liberating truth - there is no safety
. All you get with regulation is higher taxes and fewer choices. A bureaucrat now makes decisions for you. And you get the cold pleasure of paying him to remove your freedom. What if his choices involve not minor decisions but vital ones - matters of life and death (as a professor screamed at me when I used 'vital' for something too light)? Then you might find you don't feel all that safe. Then you might wish the choice were restored to, I don't know, you
. This is the stuff of drama, and great fodder for a great movie.
FDA food and drug regulation may sound fine when you have a cold and need an antibiotic and can't buy one without a prescription from a doctor. That's just a minor hassle, not too expensive. I mean, it would be much cheaper and easier to diagnose yourself and simply buy what you need off the shelf, and only go to a doctor for the hard stuff... but it's less fine when you have 30 days to live, think AZT is going to save you, and the FDA won't let you have any.
Then what do you do?
This movie dramatizes this conflict better than any movie I've seen. If I'm not mistaken, the director Jean Luc Vallee and the writers Craig Borden and Melisa Wallack come down heavy on the side of freedom. If they aren't libertarians, they surely created a wonderful vehicle for expressing the let-people-make-their-own-decisions side of the question.
We debate abortion as a 'choice.' Even though there are at a minimum two people involved - the mother and the child. But in the case of a drug, there's only one person involved - the guy who decides whether or not to ingest something. Only his body is affected. How in the world is government justified in telling someone who is supposed to die in a month that he can't take this or that pill to try to prolong his life?
It is self-evident to me the government has no business getting involved in regulating anything medical. It does a bad job of it. Thalidomide, which produced whopping numbers of horribly deformed babies, was approved by the British equivalent of the FDA. The regulatory body was telling women to take it! Like I said...
There Is No Safety.
It's scary, isn't it? But it's true. There is only risk calculation, more accurate or less accurate.
We must not let our fear overcome our reason. We must acknowledge that freedom and the responsibility that comes with it cannot be taken away without our manliness departing with it. There is simply no subcontracting the most basic decisions, among which number which substances you allow into your body - and the selection of guiding criteria by which you make your way. It's perfectly fine, perfectly manly, to take into account what some private, voluntary association -- like Consumer Reports -- says about a particular product. The difference between a CR and the FDA is that the former can't compel you, only offer you evidence and advice you find more or less persuasive. The latter can forcibly prevent you from doing what you want, and throw you in jail if you don't go along with its regulations. It makes the decisions. It is king. You are its subject. All in the name of safety....safety that turns out to be fewer choices and higher prices on closer inspection.
You might think regulation, or regulatory power
, is boring, but it's not. All the neat stuff with McConaughey may seem to be the movie, but at its heart, this is a deadly serious movie about regulatory power. And yes, the reason I love this movie is half ideological. I love McConaughey's acting, something I never particularly liked before, although he is excellent in HBO's True Detective
. But I like this movie because it shows the conflict between two very different outlooks on life, and if I'm not mistaken, it comes down very hard on the side I'm on: the side of the man over the side of the machine. Be aggressive. Make things happen. If authority is wrong, don't obey it. That doesn't mean cheat or break rules for their own sake, it means ultimately we do follow rules because we think they're right. And if ultimately we don't think they're right, we shouldn't obey them. It's not a light thing to disobey laws, but it's not a light thing to
obey them either - the latter point is the one that is usually lost.
I don't know about you, but I never signed off on any sheet before I was born agreeing to follow any particular set of laws. Did you? You can't a priori
impose on me or anyone any kind of moral
duty to follow rules I had no hand in designing, don't necessarily agree with, and never agreed to play by in the first place.
As we have seen, this Texas turd blossom is not a man to put up with bullshit. He runs his own life, and is very assertive on this point. "Do I look like a rodent to you," he says to the doctor pushing AZT at one point. Hell, no. He looks like a man. A man who needs curing badly. So if the government says he can't have AZT, that's not the final answer. That just means one route is closed. Others are open. He will open them.
Woodroof connects with an orderly to get some AZT. When that runs out, he gets the address of a debarred doc down in Mexico. There he learns that, what do you know, AZT is poison, at least as being administered in current trials. Rather, he should be taking A, B, and C drugs and vitamins and minerals and proteins.
Do you see what Woodroof is doing? He's taking responsibility for his own life, for his own health, for his own choices. This is no joking matter. The defrocked doc leads him back to better health, as the AZT had ravaged his immune system. He realizes there's a big market up north for the effective treatment the ex-doc in Mexico has come up with. He strikes a deal and packs his trunk and heads back to Dallas.
He sets up a club, and runs it out of a fleabag motel. I mean, if it's not legal to sell drugs the FDA hasn't approved...then he'll give them away. Join his club, pay $400/month dues, get all the medicine you need free. Boom. All of a sudden he's taking business away from the hospital. He's healing people rather than hurting them. As he says later on, we handle five time as many patients, and we have 1/10th the death rate.
What makes someone a doctor? An M.D.? What if he can cure someone or heal someone or merely help someone without having a degree? Is he then not a doctor because some third party hasn't signed off on it? Even if his patient customer is happy? Is the thing the thing or are the externals the thing? I mean, if an M.D. is such an inherently august thing, then why is it afraid to go out in the market and compete with other practitioners? Why must all other forms of medicine, all other potential healers, be denied the chance to serve patients, and the M.D. alone accorded legal opportunity and respect?
Again, this is the question of the market versus regulation in dramatic form. Woodroof is a businessman. He never once says anything about helping people. He just does
help them. While making a profit. That's another wonderful thing about this movie. In every other case, the writers would have Woodroof making some melodramatic speech about helping people and the usual sanctimonious, quasi-religious blather. It's so much more effective when it comes in the form of a Texas criminal conman with both balls and brains simply doing what works -- good old American pragmatism -- and telling anyone who needs to hear it the simple facts of the matter. AZT doesn't work. It kills people. He has found a way that keeps them alive; it doesn't cure them, but it definitely get them healthier. And now the FDA is coming down on his ass. He gets harassed by the IRS, too. The government doesn't care if people die of AIDS. It cares about successful challenges to its authority and monopoly. In fact, those are all it cares about.
There's a further, subtler problem with regulation. One that pretty much only libertarians talk about. It's not just that you lose your money and freedom when you agree to let Bozo the Bureaucrat, who is usually some penny-ante tyrant like jew
, make your decisions for you, it's that the very independence of the regulatory body is soon compromised. The reality of regulation is very far from the marketing campaign behind it - the promise that some learned panel of neutral experts will oversee public health and safety.
What libertarians know is that, in very short order,
will occur. Yes, it is the inevitable tendency that regulatory bodies end up captured by the industries they regulate, serving them rather than the public. After all, where are these neutral experts going to come from, if not industry? Who else is going to know anything about these new drugs they're supposed to approve except the people who actually develop them? So you get a revolving door, and interests soon become entangled. The entire point of regulation is lost. In the end, the bottom line is that the market provides the de facto regulation that is better and cheaper than what the official regulatory body can provide. If the pills don't work, people don't buy them. In a regulated market, the incentives are screwed up. The FDA has no incentive to approve any drugs. No good can come of it. What if the approved drug turns out to be the next Thalidomide? There's no risk in saying no. It's good for the FDA, and for the bureaucrat's career. Not so good for the guy who might have benefited from the unapproved drug, but good luck getting that story into the media. Has the FDA kept this man safe?
The entire scam, if you will, is built around the false conception that safety is some kind of absolute, some kind of childishly simple matter of black and white, rather than a comparative term in a world of shifting circumstantial contingencies and calculated risks. Who better than the guy taking the pill to make the assessment? He's the one paying the price if he's wrong. The system works best if the man carries his weight. He gets the freedom; he accepts the responsibility that is the other side of that coin. Of course, Americans don't like to do that nowadays. They want to cherrypick. They want freedom until things go bad, then they want to blame or sue someone else. But it can't work like that.
If you have a regulatory body like the FDA, then drug companies have to spend billions on lobbying in order to get their drugs approved instead of someone else's. It becomes a matter of who you know and how much you spend. It's better that businessmen spend time trying to serve the public what it needs and wants than trying to hustle up regulators and pay off lobbyists in D.C.
Like I always say to those with religious faith in government regulation, watch daytime tv. What do you see between the terrible shows? Nothing but ambulance-chasing lawyers prospecting for complainants to join their class-action suits against FDA-approved drugs
. But...but...how can that happen? They were approved? By real priests, I mean, bureaucrats!
Have you ever had a prescription? Did you ever look at the pages that come with the bottle? Or the label? The listing of the side effects? How often is outright death not listed among them?
Safety? There is no safety. There are just varying levels of risk.
"If it's strong enough to help you, it's strong enough to hurt you." No matter how many billions are spent on clinical trials, that adage will remain the bottom line, whether your drug is FDA-approved or you-approved.
I consider it self-evident that a completely free market in medicine is far superior to the regulated socialism we have now. Let people choose whom they go to, and let them buy what they like, for whichever reasons they come up with. Medical prices go nowhere but up precisely because of government involvement, yet uniformly in the controlled anti-market media, government involvement - increased government involvement or outright takeover - is presented as the solution rather than as the problem. But here I begin to stray too far. See our relevant thread on what should be done about health care in the politics section here
Self-reliance used to be nearly the top American not just value but characteristic. Bugger off, England, we can do for ourselves. We did. We still could. But now we need our parents in Washington to sign a permission slip if we want to extend a nose-picker deeper than 1.2 millimeters into the nasal canal. Only a double-degreed expert with an M.D. from Johns Hopkins and a Ph.D. from the Colorado School of Mines is qualified for an extraction like that. Q-tip?? What are you, a madman?
You ever notice how racism
and the sundry other leftist junior devils and freedom
all go together? Woodruff, bisexual though he be, is a definite anti-queer, misogynist and probably racist too, thought it never comes up, except that he seizes the initiative to get an ambulance for an illegal alien trapped in some machinery. He's willing to fuck or do business with pretty much anyone. He respects people as they present themselves, no matter his preferences or biases, which is all you can reasonably ask. It's all a white man would ask anyway, since white men don't pursue others into the privacy of their own bedrooms and hearts the way totalitarian judeo-leftists do. Demanding people ritually distance themselves from any thought, belief, statement or sentiment the jew-leftist deems Unutterable is, in the reality-based community, demanding that they shutter their rational component and board up their sense organs. Real men don't use religion. Or its queer nephew, secular, post-christian leftism.
Woodruff returns to the hospital. No appointment. He just seizes the initiative. None of this waiting amid passive obese women for 1.5 hours to see a doctor, the way the rest of us do, just show up and scream. Maybe you didn't hear me, woman, he says, assuming one of the women is another nurse. "Are you fucking deaf?" "No, I'm a fucking doctor." She walks around the corner. "I like your style, doc." That's where respect begins. He assumes a woman in white coat is a nurse. In the real world, so what? That's merely rational. In leftist world, it's cause for tears.
It's the same with 'Rayon,' the transvestite he meets in the hospital and later goes into business with. Contrary to some things I've read, Woodroof never changes his basic attitude toward anything in this movie. He's not a sentimental type. But he can feel others' pain. He can also feel whether they are true or false. He can see what needs to be done and do it. It's not at all like he comes around and thinks fags are good, the way some seem to think. He does stick up for Rayon because he/she is his partner, not because he thinks sex freaks are some kind of abstractly great thing. Woodruff stays true to his principles. He may be a criminal, he may steal from people, but he's honest and helpful more often than not.
Unlike liberals, he doesn't go in for self pity either. There's only one spot where he lets out the sorrow of his situation. Sitting alongside the road, fingering his gun, considering suicide. He lets out a cry. But that's the only time he gives in to sorrow and self-pity. Next thing we see, he's firmed up down in Mexico meeting the doc who will teach him the truth about AZT. You can't say Woodroof is a great kind of man, but he's legitimately tough, and he makes the necessary things happen. And they are mostly good things. You want more, go dig up a nun. It's not like that ugly Albanian broad ever cured leprosy, she just threw water on the lemurs and raised money off their big wet eyes.
Mixed motives rule the world. Businessmen serve the public far more than government workers or idealists.
That is an adult truth which many physical adults will never understand.
"I want to be loved for me." Translation: Don't criticize me or I'll cry. It doesn't work like that. You want to be loved; you should want to be lovable. You should make yourself lovable.
Businessmen have to serve people to make money. Politicians and bureaucrats do not. It is the practical mission of the press to reverse this truth, which is why they always describe businessmen as greedy (when greed comes up) and never bureaucrats. It's just like race, where whites are always guilty until proven innocent and blacks are always the injured party.
The movie shows the main character interacting with two doctors at a Dallas hospital. They represent, along with the blond-male FDA bureaucrat (the movie's lone concession to judeo-Hollywood stereotypes - the use of the common trope of evil white blond male antagonist), the institutional forces the man-trying-to-get-drugs must cope with. Slowly Woodroof wins over the female doctor, Saks. He demands she give him AZT. (The hospital is conducting clinical trials for the FDA.) She says, "That isn't how it works." We really get the strong and well devised contrast between the masculine energy and initiative of the man Woodroof and the much more staid, authority-respecting, law-abiding female. Over time, he wins her over, half by his personal charms, half intellectually, as he not only provides her the research to prove his arguments about AZT, but demonstrates it on the street as well. It finally dawns on her, HE is ACTUALLY DOING what SHE is supposed to be doing but ISN'T doing. In fact, since AZT is literally killing people, she is doing the opposite of what she's trying to do. She is honest enough that she can only ignore this so long. In the end, she forces the hospital to fire her, and joins his side. It's reminiscent of the fireman Montag in Fahrenheit 451
. He's a book burner. To him, at the start, as he's been told by authority, his bosses, ideas are bad and threatening things, and it is the quite-proper role of the earnest fireman to put out their carriers - books. So you burn books. That's your job. He is a straight, just like this she-doc Saks and most women are. But he's smart enough and just open enough, again like her, to eventually be brought around by better ideas emitted from a sexually charming personality he's captivated by. Most people aren't so much dumb or evil as conventional and lacking in imagination. If you can stir them, you might move them. Montag and Saks both come around to the other side, once the've been introduced to the right ideas, and had enough time to let them gestate, and observe them in action.
And let's get theoretical. If you're a thinking man, like me, this movie raises in very dramatic form, the question: what gets us to a solution fastest? Regardless of my hatred of bureaucracy and government, if we have a difficult problem before us, how do we find the solution the quickest? We have this disease that is killing people. That needs to stop. How do we stop it?
Generally, by opening it up. Let everyone try to come up with something, and see who wins. That's how the market works, and the market is quite effective.
The she-doc, representing official authority, says "That isn't how it works" when Ron demands AZT. See - in a monopoly M.D.'s office, you're not the customer. You're merely granted an audience with the medical pope. That isn't how it works, she says? Well, that isn't how government
works. But who died and made government boss? She says, WHEN the drug is proven to work and IF you fit the profile, THEN you can get it. This to a man diagnosed with 30 days to live! This is the sort of professional deformation and just plain not-getting-it that comes from spending your vital years in a miserably lit classroom dungeon listening to someone yapping. Woodroof is a man of the rodeo ring and bar and cathouse. He needs something that works - now. Not some theory. Not some process. Not some protocol or system. Just something that works. And if it's not known what works, then how the hell do you have all these rules about who can try what?
Regardless of his lack of degrees or background, Woodroof shows what a lone, rational white man can do. He solves the problem himself. He does the research. He rationally figures out the options from reading the medical literature - the different drugs being used to treat AIDS in countries around the world. Any man of normal intelligence can understand a question like AIDS without a medical degree. Any man of normal intelligence with AIDS can figure out the best policy for his own treatment. This movie demonstrates that in spades. Even if the government is against you, and passes laws against what you need to do, you can still work around it and get done what you need done. That's a lesson for white nationalists, surely. If Ron Woodroof had kept it legal, he would indeed have been dead in 30 days. He decided to live. The white cause is not up for vote; neither can it be destroyed by outlawing it, as the jews and servants attempt today to do in Greece.
Woodroof didn't follow the law, but he remained loyal to his business partners. Twice he wound up in the hospital; both times he refused to say where he got his drugs.
The only racism in the film is classism from the wannabe tranny:
"I guess you're handsome in a Texas hick white trash dumb kind of way.
"Get the fuck out of here, whatever you are, before i kick you in the fucking face."
But minutes later he's playing cards and then doing business with her. Texans and Southerners seem to run a little hotter than most whites. I don't think most people mind directness, however. It's unmistakable. It makes for clarity. It's confusion that produces pain and stress.
Repeatedly Woodroof exits the hospital bed against doctor's orders. "What...get a morphine drip and fade away...? I prefer to die with my boots on." This is a not a guy who speaks in sentences which end in dithery uplifts.
Random good things about this movie...
- Leto deserves praise for not talking too rapidly. That is a common failing of actors portraying transvestites. There's a good scene at the end with his conservative father, where the dad is breaking as the kid makes a last appeal. Again, there's a refusal to resort to the usual stereotype; in most movies the father would have spewed some kind of angry bible-flavored condemnation. Here he doesn't really say anything, you can just feel his pain at, uh, having a blueberry for a daughter, so to speak.
- The pacing is excellent. DBC does not drag in a single place over two hours. That's an accomplishment. Somebody put a lot of thought into this movie, and it paid off.
- "I'm not running a goddam charity. $400 or no drugs." There's a long line out door. The director keeps this hard. He doesn't allow any false sentiment or I'm-helping-people sanctimony or self-righteousness to creep in. It's stronger for that - because it's so obvious what Woodroof is doing is
helping people. That he's making a profit - so what? That's how things get done in this world. I am not going to dig into the writers and director, but if they're not libertarians, I'd be surprised. This film could have been custom-designed to make dramatically the points libertarians make intellectually.
- Funny line: Rayon gets high during business hours, Woodroof tells the black secretary she's now in charge, and "watch over that fucking monkey."
- "I say what goes in my body, not you." That ought to apply to our body politic, too.
- As the FDA throws up new obstacles, or new drug research evolves, McConaughey finds new connections, traveling to Amsterdam, China, Israel. The FDA seizes his alpha-interferon from Japan. He talks to his lawyer, who tells him: "The FDA said Japanese doctor - no legal standing. They make it up as they go along." Now there's an idea to play with. The people making and enforcing the law are just as human as Woodroof. They don't necessarily play by their own rules
any more than he does. They're all about ends, more often than not. Are their ends better than his? No.
- Like most businessman, the fact that he's playing outside federal regulations doesn't mean he doesn't care about quality control. That's a point too subtle for most Regulation Jesus beliebers
to grasp: either something is overseen by God Government, or it's the Wild West. Woodroof says he has his own process. If he doesn't trust what the "whitecoats" give him, he sends it to his lab in Seattle. And he uses it on himself.
- I repeat: anyone of normal intelligence can understand the tradeoffs involved in using a serious drug. that's why regulation makes no sense. if doctors are better than others at curing disease, then why are they afraid to prove that on the open market? At a court hearing, the FDA guy says: "Mr. Woodroof, I'm afraid you are nothing more than a common drug dealer." Woodroof respond: "Goddamnit, people are dying, and y'all up there afraid we gonna find an alternative without you." That's pretty much it.
- Never once does Woodroof relent in his attitudes, nor claim he's trying to help people. he just cites facts. He just keeps doing what is rational and what does in actual practice - work.
In the end, let's just sum up by saying McConaughey wins
. Who would ever have thought it? Like most, I thought he topped out with his famous line in
In the end, McConaughey, like Texas, like Ron Woodroof, is better than his detractors. And that goes for white men too. //