Zayda Mathews: A Fly in the Ointment

Artist Statement

The taboo surrounding addiction and drugs is still very prevalent in society along with a lack of compassion for those fighting addiction. Addiction is not a lack or morals or willpower but a complex disease, one that changes the user’s brain which is why it is considered a relapsing disease.

At first, the temptation is a fly in the ointment. My film highlights the internal battle of wanting to become sober and how difficult of a feat. I wanted to capture that even when engulfed by water, something that is pure, cleanses, and considered a source of life, cannot always prevent addiction. The water breaks the idea that a good environment, upbringing, support system, can unfailingly prevent drug use. I wanted to help break the stigma of drugs and make the drug a tangible thing that stalks its prey disguised as a beautiful euphoria. This deception leads the brain falling into wanting to relapse. As relapse starts to happen, the infatuating paradise turns into a terrifying monster that eats away at the person and their life. I make the audience see the demands of the physical embodiments of drugs are the issue in society.

Having personal experience with seeing people I know be consumed by drugs I wanted to humanize relapse since most media shuns this process and puts blame on the person. I want those watching to understand that the addict isn’t the monster, the drugs are the real monster of the story.

About the Project

  • Title of Work: A Fly in the Ointment
  • Medium: 6 minute 13 second video
  • Student's Name: Zayda Mathews
  • Major: Digital Storytelling
  • Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2023
  • Hometown: Saint Louis
  • Student's Mentor: Desiree Moore
  • Mentor's Department: Digital Storytelling