Tuesday will see the home video release of Grow House, the new stoner comedy written and directed by DJ Pooh, the guy who co-wrote Friday and wasn’t Ice Cube. It would be great if the movie was good or fresh or funny, but we have to confess that the trailer makes it look a little bit tired and a little bit cheap.
It features, in a cameo, the rapper/entrepreneur/professional-cameo-haver Snoop Dogg, though he is definitely the star of the advertising for the film, featured prominently in trailers and posters and other PR stuff. It reminds us (it can’t help but remind us) of the Doggfather’s many many other cameos. He’s appeared (almost always unimaginatively with a joint in his hand and breaking of some “foshizzle” dialogue) in Trailer Park Boys, Mary + Jane, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Mike Tyson Mysteries, Meet the Blacks, Pitch Perfect 2, The League, Scary Movie 5, Malice N Wonderland, Monk, Entourage, Hood of Horror, Soul Plane, Starsky and Hutch, and a couple dozen other films, TV shows, and video games, including the animated children’s films Turbo and Racing Stripes and a Super Bowl ad also featuring weed puns and Martha Stewart.
And that can’t remind us of certain other weed celebrities who we’ve seen again and again and again and again exiting cars full of smoke and saying “man” after every sentence in our pop culture. Willie, Cheech, Chong. That’s our royalty when it comes to celebrities who trade on their 420-friendliness.
And all of this has for years been feeling a little tired. Snoop’s been doing this shtick since the ‘90s and Cheech and Chong and Willie have been doing since the ‘80s. It begs the question: when exactly are we going to get some new weed royalty and how will they differ from the former kings?
The sub-royalty (dukes, duchesses, countesses who either don’t do as many weed cameos or don’t command as much per gig) includes Method Man, Red Man, B-Real, Action Bronson, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer from Broad City, Lil Wayne, TJ Miller, Doug Benson, and Seth Rogen (and his crew — Martin Starr, one of the Rogen/Apatow posse, also makes an appearance in Grow House).
Many of these people, though not all them, do nothing for the image of stoner culture. The issue isn’t whether their portrayals are negative or positive, but if the portrayal of cannabis users in general is changing or staying static over the decades. In the years since Up in Smoke first appeared on the silver screen, the way weed is used, sold, bought, regulated, and talked about has changed drastically. You can’t, unfortunately, say the same about weed in popular culture. As Cheech, Chong, Snoop, and Willie age out of the culture, weed is going to need some new poster girls and boys.
Who’s going to take up that mantle? The dab-happy food expert Action Bronson, the Silicon Valley bong-hitting entrepreneurs of that one HBO show, the female-positive women of Broad City, or the sizzurp guzzling sexy but self-destructive rock star Lil Wayne?