Pot-smoking and pop culture consumption go hand in hand: do the former, and you run the risk of only wanting to partake in the latter — especially if you’re smoking an Indica strain.
In turn, pop culture has taken advantage of the laughing fits that often accompany bong hits. Watch a sub-par stoner comedy — instead of one by Richard Linklater, the Coen Brothers, Amy Heckerling and Cameron Crowe, or, dare I even say it, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson — and you’ll see what I mean. Cheap laughs and stoner stereotypes prevail; the potheads themselves start to feel like the butt of the joke. It’s especially unfunny when you’re in the midst of one of those cerebral highs where you just wanna talk about the meaning of life, man. But would that perception of smoking pot be as prevalent in the mainstream without pop culture?
It’s through these Beats, hippies, burnout philosophers, and the subsequent generational knock-offs that we learned the upside of marijuana: the opening of the mind. Much of the art created or consumed by stoners takes on a vaguely hallucinogenic, even psychedelic quality, especially when it comes to music and books. The reason for this, of course, is tied to its golden era: pot’s first whiff of mainstream acceptance during the late ’60s and early ’70s. From The Beatles to Dylan, Fear and Loathing to Inherent Vice, art created and set during this iconic era often contains the implicit encouragement: this is meant to be trippy, so go ‘head and trip.
Of course, there’s also the case of the inadvertent stoner favorite. The creator likely had not factored in marijuana, but the final product resonated with pot smokers anyway (see: Adventure Time, David Lynch’s Eraserhead). These works sit exactly opposite of the party-stoner creations — the ones that suggest that the best place to be when you’re high is not necessarily stuck to the couch, but rather, raging with your stoner friends. From The Chronic to Missy Elliott and The Beastie Boys, those picks are also represented in Flavorwire’s Stoner Canon, which we’re proud to present in celebration of 4/20. — Jillian Mapes