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‘This is your face on meth’: The punitive spectacle of ‘white trash’ in the rural war on drugs

by Tyler Wall and Travis Linnemann

This article engages the dynamic role of the crime image and more specifically the mug shot, in a contemporary anti-methamphetamine media campaign known as ‘Faces of Meth’. Understood here as a pedagogical policing program, Faces of Meth attempts to deter methamphetamine use through graphic ‘before meth’ and ‘after meth’ images of the faces of white meth users. Our objective is not to evaluate the actual effectiveness of these fear appeals. Rather we discuss how the photographs are largely structured by and embedded within already existing cultural anxieties about the figure of ‘white trash’, reflecting both the dominance and precariousness of white social position.

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Published on August 16, 2013

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