Unwatchable. Amateurish in the extreme and containing almost no primary sources, this is less a documentary than a metadata analysis of fringe ideas. It is less a documentary and more a loose collection of vague suppositions unsupported by anything even resembling a fact. It is less a documentary and more a hazing for new reviewers.
The central point seems to be how the CIA used LSD to try and destroy the left and control the United States. But it starts with a history of Britain and China’s opium war. Director John Potash takes an inordinate amount of time talking about how British merchants grew rich off selling opium to the Chinese. He takes more time talking about how rich white families got involved in Eugenics, how rich white families started secret societies, and how rich white families started the CIA. It’s almost ten minutes in before he even gets close to the central idea of the piece.
“…how the CIA used LSD to try and destroy the left and control the United States.”
It is so poorly done with such amazing leaps of logic that I literally had to walk away from the screener. I had to leave my house and decompress. This is a mind-numbing exercise in vacuous empty rhetoric almost completely devoid of supportable claims.
After a while, a pattern does start to form. 1st He says something that is a fact supported by a primary source (journal, report, etc.). 2nd He presents a vague connection supported by a secondary source (a book, usually written by a conspiracy crank). Then he makes a wild leap of logic that isn’t supported at all. By presenting you with a fact, then something that sounds like a fact, he hopes to trick you into accepting his wild leap of logic.
And here’s how it works in practice. 1st He shows you the CIA’s MK Ultra program and references a report. 2nd he brings up how LSD is used as a mind control drug and references a crackpot conspiracy book. 3rd he talks about how the Beatles were tricked into taking LSD by a dentist. The inference is that the CIA tried to destroy the minds of the four moptops from Liverpool. But he fails to prove it or connect the dots.
May I take a moment to address the soundtrack? Holy fudge balls, I think there were maybe 3 songs played several times and to absolutely no effect. He didn’t break up the scenes; he didn’t provide atmosphere; they just hung there making the narration difficult to understand. And on top of that, they were just bad songs.
“…a terrible ill-conceived excuse of a documentary…”
Ok, back to the “documentary.” About 30 minutes in the whole drug angle is just abandoned for a bit. The whole point, I thought, was how the CIA was controlling the U.S. and destroying positive leftist activist and musicians with drugs. But, it takes a hard left turn and spends way too long talking about the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy. He makes no effort to tie this into the central thesis of drugs being used to control people. I had to go back and re-watch it several times because I thought I had missed something. But no. No, he just wanted to bring up how Sirhan Sirhan could not have killed Bobby Kennedy.
He does get back to his original idea eventually. First, he talks about the drug war, before failing to prove any link between the deaths of Kurt Cobain and Tupac to the CIA.
I’m not going to say that the CIA didn’t perform experiments on U.S. citizens. I’m not going to say that they didn’t do it with nefarious purposes. I’m not even going to try and hide the fact that I am a CIA operative posing as a reviewer in an effort to discredit Mr. Potash. I am just going to say that this is a terrible ill-conceived excuse of a documentary and you’d be wise to give it a miss.
Drugs as a Weapon Against Us (2019) Directed by John Potash. Starring Ed Opperman and Bobby Seale
1 out of 10 stars