A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Documentary paints a bleak portrait of the systemic racism and political corruption rooted in the crack epidemic and the "War on Drugs" of the 1980s and '90s.
Positive Role Models
While there are no shortage of bad leaders and bad policy in this history of the crack epidemic and the "War on Drugs," academics, journalists, and community activists show how important their work is in uncovering the truth behind the lies.
Violence & Scariness
Archival news footage shows coverage of street violence and homicide during the crack epidemic of the 1980s. Some disturbing archival footage, including a scene in which a young child begs police not to take his mother away as they're arresting her.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Talk of how some women who were addicted to crack cocaine would perform sexual acts in order to get the drug, sometimes involving a group of men at the same time.
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Some profanity throughout, including "bulls--t," "s--t," "d--k," "goddamn," "piss."
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Products & Purchases
Documentary shows a McDonald's commercial from the 1980s centered on an African American teenager living in the inner city whose life and character noticeably improves after getting a job at McDonald's.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The documentary discusses the development of crack cocaine and its spread across America. Archival footage of people using cocaine and crack cocaine. Recovering crack addicts discuss their years of struggle with the drug, and how it ruined their lives. Archival footage of a man holding a bottle of malt liquor.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy is a 2021 documentary that shows the devastation that the crack epidemic and the War on Drugs wreaked in the 1980s. Unsurprisingly, there's a lot of archival footage of crack cocaine use and dealing. Cocaine use shown. Talk of freebasing cocaine. Some disturbing archival footage, including a scene in which a young child begs police not to take his mother away as they're arresting her. Archival news footage of street violence and homicides as the epidemic spread. Talk of how women would prostitute themselves in order to obtain crack, and the sexual acts they would perform. Some profanity, including "s--t" and "d--k." In terms of positives, the movie shows the good that community activists, academics, and journalists have done as they bring light to the systemic racism, political corruption, and hypocrisy that so dominated the drug policy and anti-drug culture of the 1980s and into the 1990s. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
As the crack epidemic of the 1980s worsened, cocaine continued to arrive in America under suspicious circumstances, and the "War on Drugs" only made it worse. This is what is shown and discussed in the thoughtful and provocative documentary Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy. Through a mix of archival footage and contemporary interviews, this documentary paints a bleak and unsparing portrait of crack's spread throughout America, how it spiraled out of control, ruined lives, and led to a Reagan Administration "War on Drugs" that disproportionately went after communities of color, even as the majority of crack users were White.
It shows how the media bought into lies rooted in racism, such as the myth of "crack babies" that has since been disproven by medical professionals. While Nancy Reagan told the youth of America to "Just Say No," cocaine smuggling was a facet of the war on communism in Central America that resulted in the infamous "Iran Contra Scandal." It's a maddening and heartbreaking story of systemic racism, governmental corruption, and hypocrisy, expertly told and paced. In light of continued discussion and reflection on the role of systemic racism with drug addiction, crime, and the vast increase in the prison population since 1980, Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy is a relevant part of the discussion, an illuminating portrait of a terrible chapter in American history, and in some respects a tribute to the work journalists, community activists, and academics do to reveal truths that may be difficult to face about our country and society.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.