Whether you’ve chosen to engage in the phenomenological experience of hallucinogens, are pondering whether or not to partake in such an endeavor, or have it at the top of your “never gonna happen” list, we can all agree on one truth; hearing people’s stories of their psychedelic journeys is almost always an entertaining and amusing activity.
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This is most likely why Netflix decided to concoct such an experience in Have A Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics. Released on May 11th, 2020, Netflix’s new documentary features an impressive slew of celebrities recounting their wild and varied experiences with psychedelics and the wisdom acquired from them.
This fusion of famous and iconic stars include Sting, Lewis Black, Carrie Fisher, Sarah Silverman, Anthony Bourdain, Nick Offerman, Natasha Lyonne, and plenty more compelling names.
The line-up is diverse, mixing people like A$AP Rocky and Ben Stiller, who would probably never be in the same room together otherwise. But they all possess a commonality: they want to offer their advice on powerful hallucinogens by sharing their own true, authentic experiences, and to therefore allow the watcher to assemble their own conclusions about these powerful, enlightening drugs.
There is an ongoing awareness of psychotropic drugs materializing around the country- with sites such as Denver decriminalizing hallucinogenic mushrooms, and Oakland, California following suit. Oakland also added all entheogenic plants to the list, which includes not only magic mushrooms, but cactuses and iboga that induce a psychedelic experience.
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America is entering a whole new Age of Aquarius, much like that of the 1960s and 70s. Documentaries like Have A Good Trip are bound to make an explosion in entertainment.
The film is an honest, trippy, and frankly hilarious romp that simultaneously reveres and critiques drugs like LSD, psilocybin, DMT, and peyote. It begins with the use of vintage LSD scare films: badly acted scenes that warn against all use of hallucinogenic drugs by using exaggerated, frightful situations and outdated verbiage—such as describing psychosis as “instant insanity” that might never go away. Its title sequence is a flurry of kaleidoscopic color and music, perfectly paving the way for a groovy state of mind, along with intermittent trippy visuals inserted throughout the piece.
Although the celebrity stories tend to be comical and wacky, every person seems to get a deeper meaning out of it. Sting, lead singer of The Police, kicks off the testimonials with a bang, detailing his experience with peyote.
He recounts “entering the psychedelic realm” on his farm in England when suddenly, a farmhand begs Sting to help with a cow who is having trouble birthing and is about to die unless he can help. As he talks us through the insane experience, he frequently mentions how much that day emphasized the idea of mortality for him in ways he had never thought before, and the deep connection he gained with the world.
“I don’t think psychedelics are the answer to the world’s problems, but they could be a start,” Sting says.
The film hops easily from self-realized deeper messages, such as Sting’s, to light hearted “sketches” that feature famous comedians; such as a comical sketch called “Bad Trip” by Adam Scott, which features a fictional teenage girl’s experience gone wrong.
Some testimonials strike a melancholic chord, however, due to several of the actors being deceased—such as Carrie Fisher, Anthony Bourdain, and Fred Willard.
Fisher charms the audience by recounting a story in which she ended up topless in front of a flurry of tourists during the height of her Princess Leia fame. She claims that while experimenting with LSD during this time, she finally felt “normal.”
To back this claim up, the documentary features Dr. Charles Grob, a psychiatrist, who explains that the reason for this feeling was because Fisher must have been so disconnected with her inner self due to fame, that the drug helped her reflect more internally to access a core element within herself.
We get lucky enough to pick at Anthony Bourdain’s brain one more time, as he recounts his experience with LSD in a hilarious scene that includes him being in a motel room with a girl who collapses to the ground and seemingly dies, then suddenly springs to life again.
Lewis Black was unable to remember his name while tripping; Nick Kroll believed he was a “kelp monster;” and Paul Scheer became literally intertwined with a Van Gogh painting while in Amsterdam—the stories continue to surprise and amuse.
The stars also offer advice, such as don’t drive, DON’T look in a mirror, and that The Grateful Dead concerts are a haven for psychedelic drugs. They also discuss whether to enter a McDonald’s while high.
Dr. Charles Grob and author and alternative-medication advocate Deepak Chopra, appear throughout the documentary with their medical views of these types of drugs. Grob speaks about the extreme health benefits of psychedelics for mental disorders, such as mood improvement, and wishes for a time where there can be certified “retreat centers” available for those who need treatment.
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“These compounds, when utilized under optimal conditions, seem to have a rather remarkable facility for catalyzing spiritual-level experiences, which by their very nature may have the potential to be transformative,” Grob says.
There is a long way to go before mind-altering drugs such as LSD and mushrooms get the funding, research, and reputation they deserve.
Until then, however, documentaries like Have A Good Trip will continue to popularize these beneficial substances, and forever impact the future of the American view on these seemingly “taboo” subjects, bringing the truth to light. Have A Good Trip is an informative, jocular trip of it’s own that blends education and entertainment.
“The whole consciousness movement that started in the 60s,” Chopra says, “began with the use of hallucinogenic drugs…We’re on a trip all the time, right now we’re on a trip, right? Life is a trip.”
Enjoy your trip, but remember, try not to look in the mirror!