By Emily Mullen
Here’s why the title of 2022’s must-watch and must-not-watch film is problematic.
If there’s one thing people on the internet love more than documentaries about dangerous animals, it’s documentaries that recount the depravity of humans on dangerous animals. Naturally, Elizabeth Banks’s upcoming project about a bear’s involvement in a botched narcotics drop has set tongues a-wagging, even though its launch date isn’t until 2022. Chatter online has varied somewhere between mild excitement and extreme interest in the film.
The film has been described as a “character-driven thriller inspired by true events that took place in Kentucky in 1985,” produced by The Lego Movie filmmaking combo Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Cocaine Bear is reportedly based on the true story of Andrew Thornton a convicted drug smuggler who died while attempting to parachute from a plane over Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest while carrying 40 containers of cocaine. An unfortunate bear dubbed “cocaine bear” happened upon the drugs and died from an overdose.
Little is known about the makeup of the “thriller”, with things like footage, film quality, theme, and budget all being left to speculation. In spite of the lack of information, what is clear, is that the buzz around the film will mean that we have to watch it. And maybe that’s part of the problem, it sounds less like a fully developed film project and more like bait for the viral news cycle. Judging by the working film title, the hook to get viewers in appears to be a wild animal’s consumption of drugs and its death as a result. It’s a grotty title for a tale that in itself is thrilling enough to not be called “Cocaine Bear”
When they were undoubtedly underlining “Cocaine Bear” on a whiteboard in the production room did no one cop that’s it’s an awful clickbaity title? Is mystifying. Although maybe the filmmakers aren’t to blame, they are just flailing the stick that society has shoved over to them. Given that the bear was ultimately stuffed and put on display after its demise, and has ended up installed as a roadside attraction in the Kentucky Fun Mall- maybe the broader treatment of wild animals who have died at the hands of humans is a more important conversation to have than splitting hairs over a film title.
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