Bioethics Blogs

Why do we like our artist on drugs, but or sportspeople not?

The internet and print media are happy to herald that movie director Lars Von Trier can’t work without alcohol. He reports that he tried to be sober and went to AA meetings for half a year, but has now started drinking again in order to be able to work. This is a victory for those who believe that artists are more creative on drugs. As Von Trier himself ranted late last year, before going in rehab, he thinks that going clean will probably mean the end of his career. He probably won’t be able to make movies at all, and what he will produce, will be ‘shitty’. ‘There is no creative expression of artistic value that has ever been produced by ex-drunkards and ex-drug-addicts. Who the hell would bother with a Rolling Stones without booze or with a Jimi Hendrix without heroin?’ He states that he wrote the screenplay for Dogville during a 12-day drug binge, but working on the screenplay for Nymphomaniac, while sober, took him 18 months.Yet, when we look closer at the interview he has given now that he started drinking again, it shows a way more nuanced picture. First, he doesn’t claim that he is back to full-blown addiction, but only that he started to drink a little bit. Secondly, while he claimed before that drinking a bottle of vodka daily helped him enter a “parallel world” necessary for creation, he doesn’t now emphasise a relationship between drinking and creativity. His drinking has another function for him, it is not a shortcut to creativity (as other drugs are for him), but a way to handle his anxiety issues.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.