Your read, the fashionable read, is that’ “the war on drugs doesn’t work…”
However, you divorce yourself from the equation. You form this–or accept this–opinion without any self-awareness. Further, you don’t think through the ramifications of your deduction–the fashionable deduction that the war on drugs doesn’t work.
What you don’t see–and why you don’t see it–is a common bi-product of the age of television. The television granted a wide audience the common God-like power of observing , and understanding, at least the content’s creators intent/message, without any effort or expectation of participation. This has created in the society a habit of forming judgments or interpretations quickly without any sense of obligation to act.
You say that Sicario is about how the drug war doesn’t work… people said and still say the same about prohibition, but many others disagree… and the facts tend to reinforce that disagreement. Before prohibition, drinking was much more widespread and acceptable; workers would routinely drink throughout the work day. After prohibition there was an acknowledgement that such drinking was detrimental and unacceptable. Drinking habits did change; perception of drinking did change.
I would argue that the point of the movie isn’t simply that the drug war “doesn’t” work, but that it isn’t enough. The point is, that our individual idiocies given free-reign culminate in miseries far from home… and surprise, not very far from home as well.
Just because certain opinions are fashionable… doesn’t mean they are well thought out or right. By saying merely that the war on drugs “doesn’t work” you seem to be advocating for a cessation of the anti-drug policies… the legalization of drugs. What you ignore is that there are power-capabilities that would be legitimized. What you don’t see is the inherent relationship setup by such a trade. You don’t see that gratification through drugs is tantamount to slavery.
I know you are unfamiliar with existentialism and metaphysics so I’ll try to explain… When one operates in the world with his or her sense of good feeling or euphoria or elation tied to what he or she does or the feelings of those around him or her… such people become more engaged with the way they live their lives. Their sense of good feeling IS tied to the good feelings of those around them; they have an interest in the people around them being happy–even at the expense of their own happiness. When they only feel a certain profound gratification from what they accomplish; they develop the ability to suspend the need for instant gratification and cultivate a capacity for long periods of hard work for the sake of that accomplishment.
The pattern among habitual drug users is different, they become resigned to much more intolerable conditions not out of the the hope for future reward, but because they have become too disengaged from their own lives to care to change things. And rather than experiencing the natural progression of status which should be a part of a life full of accomplishment, they feel useless and trapped in the same rut–relying on an artificial high to cope. So they engage in shallow social jockeying for status in a static hierarchy. They do this not in a way guided by a sense of dignity, but a yearning to justify ones own arrogance–most often at the expense of the dignity of those around them. By bearing joyous witness to others failures, or worse, helping to orchestrate the humiliation of those around them… by this route, one’s arrogance seems to be justified–one can convince himself of his own superiority. And when one’s sense of good feeling is tied to smoking a joint or doing a line rather than the feelings of those around them… it becomes that much easier to engage in orchestrated humiliations for the sake of momentarily boosting one’s own ego.
These patterns culminate in the destruction of the strength of the fabric of interpersonal relationships… people don’t so much care for the others in their life, they are bound to them out of raw need for material support. Theirs becomes an association of criminals, bound by a criminal activity to one another. They work, and cheat, to funnel money to the one who facilitates their access to “good feeling”. They are shackled and sequestered from their own lives by that habit or addiction. Their lives become emptier and emptier until they merely hate anything which points out the depravity to which their lives have fallen. They find in this another thread to bind together by and seek to indoctrinate others into their pattern of living so as to focus on something other than themselves. This is the part of the war on drugs which isn’t being fought effectively… the fight against the loss of meaning in one’s own life… the fight to acknowledge that culture and civilization take constant effort… the realization that the indolence that drugs inspire brings meaninglessness, the loss of consciousness and any sense or regard for what should be held sacred. But who cares when such things can’t be conveyed in a tattoo or on a t-shirt… right?!
I would say that this movie SHOULD illustrate the cost of such a sensational pursuit… that the war on drugs has to be fought by those who would use drugs or those who would dismiss those who do as having no responsibility for cumulative and ultimate effect of their choices. I do understand your misunderstanding, though, since the movie itself has chosen the most sensational way to convey that cost. Rather than focusing on the absurdity of the millions of club-goers snorting coke (very often chasing a fleeing panacea of erogenie) or the millions of video-gamers smoking pot (rather than facing their own insecurities engaging with others and the world at-large) as an argument against our lack of engagement and participation in solving the problem. That is, without handing the entire society over to a bunch of narco-kingpins.