Why The LGBTQ Community Forgives Cocaine Bear

Izzy Astuto ‘25 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Spoilers ahead.

Going into 2023, Cocaine Bear was not only my most anticipated movie, but also that of  most people I know. With an expert marketing campaign, everyone clamored to get tickets for opening weekend, eager to see the absurd, yet simple premise of a bear who does a ton of cocaine and then kills a bunch of people. 

After watching the movie myself, though, it ended up being kind of mediocre. This sentiment has been echoed throughout movie reviewing apps such as Letterboxd, but no one seems particularly upset about that. Rather, the movie’s mediocrity seemed to only add to its campy charm. So what was it about Cocaine Bear that captured the hearts and minds of so many? 

Well first off, the concept is more than enough on its own. The creative minds behind this masterpiece marketed it as a true story, which is only tangentially accurate. Both the movie and real life incident begin with a drug runner’s plane crash, which scatters significant amounts of cocaine through a Georgia forest. A bear happens upon some of it and ends up ingesting a large portion. That’s pretty much where the similarities end, however. In real life, the bear died pretty immediately after consuming so much of the drug. In the movie, however, she goes on a rampage, mauling a colorful cast of characters, from the drug dealers trying to track down their lost product, to park rangers patrolling the area. This massive exaggeration takes a story which was just a little sad for the poor bear, and turns it into a unique twist on the slasher genre. 

You may have noticed my specific use of pronouns, which also adds to the movie’s allure. That’s right, folks, diversity win: the bear that snorted cocaine and committed serial murder is a woman! The characters discover that the bear is a mother of two little cubs, who they find submerged in a pile of cocaine. This girlboss was just trying to protect her babies and give them some cocaine, and, at the end of the day, who can blame her?  

The movie’s characters and plot outside of the murderous bear aren’t too complex, but some of the more meta decisions are quite interesting. Most prominently, the movie’s cast included two kids, part of what was probably closest to the film’s A plot. As soon as they were introduced, I was on the edge of my seat, terrified the movie would kill them off. As a massive horror fan, there are some lines that make even me uncomfortable when crossed. With the amount of gore this movie had in their death scenes, the kids dying may have swung this into the uncomfortable direction of the “torture porn” genre. 

However, the kids make it through to the end, along with most of the characters from the main plotlines, the closest an ensemble slasher flick can get to protagonists. The end of the movie revealed that the bear also made it through alive, with her two cubs and the cocaine that never ended up being recovered. While the movie takes a slightly confusing stance on if cocaine is a net good or not, this heartwarming ending was the perfect way to end what is potentially the most fun movie of 2023. To those who haven’t gotten out to see Cocaine Bear yet, I recommend going to the most packed theatre you can. Audience live reactions are key with a movie as entertaining as this one. 

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