And why Hollywood should want this market.
A new survey suggests it’s high time for television companies to rethink the stoner stereotype.
New York strategic research agency Miner & Co. Studio released a report Wednesday, “TV and the New Cannabis Consumer,” that calls on Hollywood to help change perceptions of marijuana users.
Of 800 surveyed cannabis consumers in states with legalization, 77 percent make more than $75,000 a year and 86 percent are employed full-time. They identify as professional, active, passionate and relaxed.
Yet about three-fourths of respondents believe television shows portray consumers as stereotypes, whereas survey participants themselves do not identify as forgetful, sluggish, lazy or loners. The same number of respondents believe onscreen depictions should mirror those of characters drinking alcohol, suggesting there should be no difference between a weed and a wine night.
“Incorporation [of cannabis] is no different than making sure you have the right painting on the wall in the background, the right sofa for the lifestyle that the characters have, no different than having a character drink a craft beer instead of a Budweiser—what’s the message that you’re sending?” Robert Miner, president of Miner & Co. Studio, tells The Hollywood Reporter.
He adds, “Have cannabis there because it’s part of the lifestyle. I think any time the story is all about cannabis, you’re reinforcing the stigma versus alleviating it.”
Respondents said media has the potential to change how cannabis is perceived in the world at large, with many admitting that the occasional nonstereotypical depiction has made them more comfortable talking about their habits and experiences.
Miner says television indeed has a pattern of driving social change and evolving the conversation over time. The humor of the hapless — yet safe — stoner stereotype initially made it more acceptable. “That helped to drive legalization and normalization,” he says. But now, reality has evolved beyond Hollywood’s representation, and “easy” humorous storylines can produce a subtle, negative stigma, Miner says.
While recent shows such as Ballers and Disjointed depict the cannabis industry, some cannabis professionals believe they are “out of step with the times.”
Wendy Robbins and Karen Paull, who created The Marijuana Show (hailed as Shark Tank for cannabis), agree Hollywood’s depictions are typically inaccurate. “They go for the stereotypes, like the out-of-a-job slacker who gets stoned all day on the couch. But our show also depicts people that use it for medicinal reasons that are smart, put-together people that might have a condition like epilepsy that needs treatment by cannabis,” Paull tells THR.
Scripted television is lagging compared with documentaries, Robbins says, with shows like CNN’s Weed 1, 2, 3 and 4 and Viceland’s Weediquette more authentically portraying the cannabis industry.
Miner notes the stigma has impeded people from seeking out cannabis for its medical benefits, “because (a) They were afraid they would get stoned or (b) they were afraid people would think they were stoners.”
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News