Adam22, Lil Pump, and the Depiction of Xanax Culture on YouTube
by asdfghjkl on April 20, 2017 - 3:21pm
Adam Grandmaison (aka Adam22), the founder of a hugely successful BMX website has, in the recent past, become somewhat of an influential figure in the underground rap scene. He has risen to relative fame, gathering over 500 000 subscribers, through his podcast that is hosted on his YouTube channel No Jumper. As his influence has grown he has come into contact with more and more rappers and people that are a part of the scene. This has been capped off by the fact that he was able to put together and go on a rap tour entitled “The No Jumper Tour”. On this tour rappers Smokepurpp and Lil Pump were the headliners. Part of Adam22’s appeal is that he also has a daily vlog. It is here where the moral dilemma arises. In a recent instalment of this daily vlog, 16-year-old rapper Lil Pump can be seen doing a pill of some sort after saying “I won’t? I won’t pop a Xan right now? I haven’t even ate breakfast n***a, I’ll pop a Xan right now” (No Jumper, 3:35-3:49). Scenes such as this one are prevalent throughout many of his vlogs. The moral dilemma is the following: through the publication of this material is Adam22’s depiction of drug use by minors wrong and is it harmful to his viewers? By examining this issues through the utilitarian perspective it will be shown that his actions are wrong and are harmful to all viewers, adults and minors alike.
For the sake of simplicity and in order to respect the word limit this whole essay will be based entirely on the single scene depicting drug use quoted above.
There is an argument that there are positive effects of illegal drug use by younger people. One of the main points argued by Nechema Tec in her article Reflections on Positive Consequences of Illicit Drug Usage by the Younger Generation is that there is “less glorification of medication in general” (Tec, 1). Today, this statement is simply false. In current rap culture some of the most famous rappers rap about their use of prescription drugs such as Percocet, Xanax, and Codeine (Ex: Future – Mask Off & Migos – Slippery). Rapping about prescription drugs is prevalent at all levels of rap music as proved by Lil Pump, an unknown rapper when compared to Migos and Future. The author of this article looks at drug use by “the younger generation” (Tec, 1) but does not look at drug use by minors. It would be extremely difficult to find any positive outcomes of drug use by minors.
As mentioned earlier, the ethical framework of utilitarianism can be used to criticize Adam22’s actions. Utilitarianism is a perspective that examines the results of actions. Simply put, it classifies right actions as ones that promote happiness and wrong actions as ones that produce the reverse of happiness. Here, there is a need to define the drug use portrayed in the YouTube video as a right or wrong. From a utilitarian perspective this scene can only be viewed as wrong for multiple reasons. Firstly, the fact that the person taking the drug is a minor is an issue. Now, it might not be an issue if this were the one and only time Lil Pump took a Xanax but the fact of the matter is that this is not the first time and, surely, will not be the last. It is important to note that this is something that all regular viewers of the vlog will know. Secondly, because Lil Pump is only 16, he will be severely affected by his habitual use of this painkiller. Furthermore, he will at some point, or has already, developed a physical and psychological dependence to the drug because of this habit. This means that his actions will produce the reverse of happiness. So, how does the fact that Lil Pump’s actions are wrong affect the viewers?
In an article entitled; Who Directs Whom? Films and Reality for Young Heroine users in a Swedish Town, the author found that, for 19-25 year-old Swedish heroine users, films “are a parallel reference world [which] have inspired the creation of a subculture” (Lalander, 85-86). For these young swedes, that subculture included a life of crime and drug use. Adam22’s supporters are known as the “Rope Gang” so it is evident that he has already inspired people to be apart of a subculture he participates in. An important difference between these films and Adam22’s vlogs is that one is fiction and one is real life. This means that these vlogs could potentially have an even larger effect than films on the lives of viewers and therefor, from a utilitarian perspective, his depiction of drug use is wrong.
In an article written by grieving parents, they believed that their son’s death by heroine overdose was due to his idolization of the rock star Pete Doherty. The victim’s father called for Doherty to “take responsibility for the drug culture he has engendered” (McDermott). There are many parallels that can be drawn from this teenager’s death and the drug culture that Lil Pump and Adam22 promote in the vlog. However, the most striking difference is the fact that Lil Pump himself is a minor, making his drug use all the more relatable for other minors.
Drug use can be very appealing to teenagers, especially when people who can be seen as successful and who are a part of a culture one wishes to identify with take them. A worrying trend is that on top of the depiction of this drug use to generate views on YouTube, companies have tried to capitalise on teenage and young adult drug culture to sell products. At the beginning of this year, a company called Urban Decay released a line of makeup products with names such as “Blow, Kush, Laced, Heroine, and Asphyxia” (Flanigan). This is an issue as this company specifically targets “16-25 year-olds” (Flanigan) for their products.
Returning to the moral dilemma of whether or not Adam22 should be portraying drug use by minors in his vlogs and whether or not this is harmful to his viewers it is evident that, from a utilitarian perspective, his actions are indeed ethically wrong. Furthermore, as demonstrated in Lalander’s article, Adam22’s actions could, and may already have inspired teenagers and young adults to partake in the illegal use of prescription medication. However, it is highly unlikely that this will turn off any one of his 500 000 YouTube subscribers. Rather, it may even entice them to watch his videos.
Adam Grandmaison, No Jumper. “THE NO JUMPER TOUR IS IGNORANT AND OUT OF CONTROL” 31 March 2017. Web. 20 April 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1ntPjeXjlQ
Flanigan, Amie. "Urban Decay's Disturbing Celebration of Drug Use Causes Moral Dilemma." Sorta Chic. N.p., 26 Mar. 2017. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
Lalander, Philip. "Who directs whom? Films and reality for young heroin users in a Swedish town." Contemporary Drug Problems 29 (2002): 65-91. Web. <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,ur....
McDermott, Nick. "Doherty and Glorification of Drugs Left My Son Freddy Dead Aged 18." Daily Mail (London). N.p., 31 Aug. 2011. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
Tec, Nechema. "Reflections on the Positive Consequences of Illicit Drug Usage by the Younger Generation." British Journal of Addiction (to Alcohol & Other Drugs) 71.4 (1971): 343-51. Web. <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,ur....