US Navy produces comedy thriller about bath salts

Dose Nation lauds it an "amazing turd of institutional anti-drug propaganda."


  1. [Caveat: Watched on mute — at work.]  Hmm. I don’t work for the Navy, but I have worked for places that care about drug use very much. For me, the threat of losing not just my job but my career if I was even suspected of illicit drug use was a much stronger determent than scary hallucination videos. Those days I wouldn’t even stay in the same building as someone smoking something they shouldn’t. I just didn’t go to those parties, and left if it headed that way.

    But then again I was and am ‘old’ by military standards (early 30’s) so the self-control part of my brain was fully grown and that abstract stuff works on me. Also I’ve never been the pharmaceutically  curious sort. (If I were, I probably wouldn’t have taken jobs where caught with joint = life long ban).

    1. And yet there have been jobs where I could look around the table and know I was the only person NOT medicated to the gills on prescription drugs.  I figured I could probably get a contact high off all the drug metabolites in the air. 

  2. looks like fun :) sign me up.

    Re: Bathsalts, A desirable property for any drug is that it ceases to influence you as soon as your liver and kidneys have cleared the dose from your system. With the bathsalt component MDPV, this doesn’t happen; it sounds risky at the molecular level if this is true:

    “MDPV binds itself to the transporter, but unlike cocaine, which releases, [MDPV] won’t let go and effectively “kills” the transporter. In other words, the research team has found that MDPV is essentially irreversible. “It remodels the central nervous system,” De Felice said.

    It sounds as though once you take MDPV, your dopamine levels may remain out of whack until your synapses regenerate by growing new dopamine pumps, a process taking a couple of weeks; The come-down is too slow. It also explains why some people find it harmless and others are seriously affected. If you knock out 10 or 20% of your dopamine re-uptake system, you probably feel great. If you knock out 90%+, you’re probably fucked. It seems like both scenarios would be possible by taking MDPV.

    But eh, It worked for John McAfee, so what would I know?

      1. And then it turns you into a zombie and you eat a homeless guy’s face.  It’s true, you can look it up!

          1.  Can you truly rule it out that easily? If MDPV binds irreversibly it might persist in the brain after being cleared from the rest of the body. Unless they tested the brain with extremely sensitive techniques they could have missed it. Maybe. If it wasn’t bath salts or PCP or something, that leaves what? Reefer madness? T-virus? Just a sudden craving for a faceburger?

          2. I’ve just read part of the comments section, it was actually an example of demon possession. The fact that he was carrying a Bible and called himself a Christian was negated by the fact that he was also carrying a Qu’ran.

            Liberalism was also a big factor, but I’m not really clear on how that came into it.

  3. It’s a shame because the guy talking in the last three quarters is actually pretty convincing. Bath salts are a really screwed up drug, and you’re kindof crazy to try it. But to think that someone thinking of trying them is going to take anything this video has to say seriously after watching the first 30s is ridiculous. 

    The PBS explainer Xeni posted is the best I’ve seen. It at least attempts to engage with (what little) pharmacological effects we know about.

    1. I re-watched this at home where I had sound and you’re right, the professional speaking at the end seemed sober and credible; the rest is a little wacky.

    2. The Dose Nation link also takes the video out of context. It doesn’t say Bath Salts will make you Schizophrenic, it says Meth users who take Bath Salts often end up with Schizophenia, that’s quite a specific situation 

  4. In addition to the PBS programs about bath salts already posted I highly recommend this episode of Nova from the 80’s which shows how a simple mistake during the manufacturing of these designer s drugs can cause horrific consequences.

  5. MDPV sucks, for sure…but that’s not the only thing called “bath salts”.  Also, “bath salts zombie” had a toxicology report showing clean for everything except MJ.  That whole debacle was just a ruse to throw a whole bunch of drugs, some safer than others, none of them related in any chemical sense, into a nice little pigeonhole with a cannibal as its poster child.  In other words, propaganda du jour.

    1. It’s hard to the whole debacle “just a ruse”. The political BS afterwards sure, but someone really did get their face eaten. Why? It is a mystery. We clearly need more research into the root causes of face eating in our society.

      1. Yes, everything that was said after the actual event was the debacle, starting with the PD that kicked off the bath salts nonsense.

  6. I don’t really see what the problem with the video is, especially when you consider the most likely audience, those in their late teens and early 20s.

    So Mark Frauenfelder, what to you makes this comedic? Is it the message? The subject? The execution?

    1. Well I’d hate to think the government spent more than $500 on this. The sets, props, lighting (if any), dialog, and acting all gradually went down hill. The puke was pretty funny for its lack of realism (and sound). Why was his ball already at the bowling alley? There was no budget for makeup, everything was done with same lens. The scene at 3:50 where he gets that shot was quite funny because a dog getting a lethal dose of phenobarbital doesn’t go down that fast.

      etc etc etc

      1.  I would imagine everything was shot on base somewhere – barracks, medical, bowling alley. Couldn’t the ball have been a loaner? This wasn’t shot with absolute realism in mind. I’m not sure when you grew up, but if you were a kid back in the olden days – the 1900s – like me, you’ll remember the REALLY crappy 16mm films.  ; )

        A lot of media-oriented “ratings” (enlisted specialties) were rolled up into one general purpose media rating, so I think these days they tend to be jacks of all trades, masters of none. Keep in mind too that compared to what these kids are used to seeing from YouTube, this is a pretty competent production. I do think the roommate’s transition to whatever the hell he was looked pretty good.

        I can just about guarantee that little if any money was spent on this, considering restraints the government is imposing.

        1. From the credits at the end of the video, it looks like it was put together by the Navy’s Medical teams, not a pro PR team, which certainly explains the access to hospital gear, staff and and location, and the overall undergraduate level quality. Slick production values may in fact have distracted from the core message, it’s not a shiny Navy recruitment vid, it’s supposed to be a bare-bones, this is real life kind of thing.

          I liked how they intercut the various footage of symptoms experienced by the guy later during the talk, showing examples of what he meant as he was talking.

          1. Well when he was on the stretcher, they could have used a little makeup on his face to make him look flushed, misted him with a water bottle to make him look sweaty, made his hair wet, told him to roll his eyes back, and stretched his shirt like he’d been in a struggle.  I guess people with a little community theater experience don’t join the Navy. The medical staff need to rehearse their lines. They can’t just do this on their lunch hour. Oh and give us a little gratuitous closeup of the needle stick.

            And the guys apartment was too clean without even a magazine.

            I’ll give them credit if they did this on no budget.  At least someone worked on the script.  If they decide to do this better, they need: rehearsal, props, continuity, and some makeup.

            I liked the bowling ball best – why was his ball already there? If he was using one of the lane’s balls, he would have gone to the rack of balls, not the ball return.

          2. Also, foaming at the mouth is a great effect.  As I child I saw someone have a big epileptic seizure and they were foaming at the mouth all over the place. I was quite amazed to see it really happen in a matter of seconds. 

    2. It’s also entirely possible the Navy’s MDPV was cut with this obscure designer drug called ‘alcohol,’ which presents the same adverse effects, including very infrequently – you know you’re thinking it – cannibalism. Especially with ye new old-fangled Navy proof rums.

      I think maybe the reason Mark finds this so comical is that it smacks of Reefer Madness. For example:

      “You have no idea, between two packets of bath salts, what compounds are in it. What concentration it is.”(Rewind to about 20 seconds earlier): “Physiological effects of bath salts include chest pain, high blood pressure, fast heart rate, difficulty breathing, brain swelling…seizures, excitatory delirium and death directly related.” You can’t attribute a specific set of effects to an unspecific drug, and vice versa. Either you’re talking about MDPV or you aren’t, private.

      Science and technology (including the popular ‘clandestine drug manufacture’ major) are rapidly becoming cottage industries. The rate of invention is outpacing the rate of legislation, even for the world’s most austere and efficient legislative bodies. By the time MDPV is locked down airtight, some high that is altogether non-analogous will be discovered. Who knows, oxytocin maybe? (not oxycontin, that’s old hat).

      And this isn’t entirely a bad thing. Imagine some guy buying piss-lab Lipitor in the 90’s off an (apocryphal) anonymized Internet, while the FDA bided its time. I mean, Viagra isn’t that far off. It is – or was – a heart medication. Clinical human study is already underway on stuff like Bremelanotide, which is a club drug if I’ve ever seen one. And wouldn’t you know it? You can already buy it – clandestinely.   

      I, for one, am not going to complain if someone volunteers to self-experiment all ‘Contagion’-style and expedite the process. I know I have no interest in trying Meth – but I didn’t need propaganda (or conversely, a clinical study) to come to that conclusion. I came to that conclusion based on statistician’s wet dream of volunteer data points.  

      It kills two birds with one stone. Drugs that shouldn’t be taken recreationally get weeded out long before they’re on most peoples’ radars, much less on their dealers. And, you know, it might help with our de-evolution….

      And the argument can be made that that kind of volunteer data (insofar as it can be objectively quantified) is MORE reliable. Taking part in a study can, itself, be the placebo. 

      Of course, no one likes the idea of a bunch of people ruining their lives. But let’s consult the first maniac to eat rotting, moldy fruit and realize you could get a buzz off it. I’m enjoying his adventurous and/or self-destructive ‘spirit’ as I write this.  

      The person who needs to be TOLD not to try every unfamiliar rotting, moldy fruit that drops on the ground might have problems. But then what do you call the person who feels the need to FEIGN expertise on each new rotting fruit as it falls?

      A hipster, I guess? An ROTC hipster.

      It’s not a fad.

  7. The bowling alley freakout was interesting because I once had a housemate who’d done a lot of drugs as a teen, and described a PCP freakout at a bowling alley.  They fled through the glass doors without opening then, shattering the glass with PCP super strength, and ran away without injuries. 

      1.  I saw a guy walk through a closed plate glass door at Church once, he wasn’t all cut to pieces. I think leading with a heavy shoe helped.

      2. I’m pretty certain that a door and foyer would use tempered glass, like the side windows of a car.  The hard part would be breaking it (there would have to be a flaw or damage) rather than avoiding injury

        “…….It is used for its characteristic of shattering into small cubes rather than large shards and is sometimes referred to as safety glass in this context…..” (wikipedia)

        1. Right, if it was tempered glass they could get away without injuries, but wouldn’t be able to charge through without spending some time knocking glass pieces out of the door frame to make an exit hole (plus a bowling alley door would probably have a metal push bar blocking the way).  If it was plate glass, they’d be bleeding.

          1. You seem to be thinking of windshield glass which is bonded to a layer of plastic for increased safety. Windshield glass keeps its shape when broken.  Plain tempered glass, like the side windows of a car, simply turn into a pile of glitter.

  8. This video seemed fine to me. There was nothing worthy of making fun of it. I think there is more humor in Boing Boing finding fault with it than anything else.

  9. don’t care if someone said this before. who PAID dangermouse and skrillex????????????????????????????????????

  10. Hey Mark, I know you’re all anti The Man, but the site you link to takes a highly specific claim in the video (meth users who also take bath salts often end up with schirzophenic symptoms) and generalises it to all takers of the drug. That seems to be their main accusation, which is proven false with a single viewing of the video. Oh, and they also think it’s a waste of tax-payer dollars, when I could have shot that video on High8 back in 2000 with a few friends and access to the locations and the equipment already there, plus a few easy post tricks with software. This is a down and dirty, get the message out video, not a budget-blowing Transformers movie.

    1. It was still better than “Atlas Shrugged” or the last “Twilight” movie, so I’ll give them that much. 

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