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White Noise’s Dylar Pill Isn’t Based On A Real Drug Don DeLillo’s Inspiration Explained

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White Noise’s Dylar Pill Isn’t Based On A Real Drug Don DeLillo’s Inspiration Explained

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Summary

  • The Dylar pill in White Noise takes away fear of death but causes terrifying hallucinations and isn’t FDA approved.
  • Noah Baumbach’s adaptation delves deeper into post-modern philosophy, questioning truth and reality.
  • The Dylar pill does not exist in real life; Don DeLillo’s fictional drug symbolizes society’s death obsession.

In Noah Baumbach’s White Noise, the Dylar pill offers a unique and life-changing experience for those who decide to take it. White Noise is an adaptation of the 1985 novel of the same name by Don DeLillo and is considered one of the prime examples of post-modern literature, making it something of prime rib for Baumbach, whose fascination with post-modernism and the varying nature of truth has been at the forefront of nearly all his films. His 2022 White Noise dives even deeper into the philosophy.

White Noise
is Noah Baumbach’s first directorial adaptation of a novel.

The absurdist comedy White Noise follows Professor Jack Gladney (Adam Driver), his fourth wife, Babette (Greta Gerwig), and their blended family of four children Babette and Jack often have deep discussions late into the night, some involving the idea of death, a mutual fear of the couple. After a catastrophic train accident nearly kills the family, Jack’s fears of death become unbearable, and he searches for anything that can help him overcome his phobia.

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The Dylar Pill Is A Drug That Takes Away Fear Of Death In White Noise

The Pill Also Causes Hallucinations And Isn’t 100% Effective

In White Noise​​​​​​, Jack discovers that his wife Babette seems to have already found the cure for a death phobia: a tiny pill known as a Dylar pill. This medication, unapproved by the FDA, erases the user’s fear of death. The reason Dylar has not been approved is that it isn’t 100% effective, and it can cause frighteningly realistic hallucinations. As it turns out, Dylar was recalled, but Babette secretly traded sex with Dylar’s creator, Mr. Gray (Lars Eidinger), for samples. Babette becomes lethargic, pale, and emotionally distant after taking them so Jack investigates.

It’s around this point that White Noise gets really trippy, and it becomes unclear if Jack took the Dylar pill himself or even if Mr. Gray is real. White Noise ends with the characters apologizing and reaffirming their love before breaking into a large dance number at a grocery store with the other patrons. Sounds like some drug.

At no point in the movie does the Dylar pill actually seem to be even slightly worth it. All that’s shown in White Noise are the strange side effects and the mania the two lead characters are driven to. But despite the Dylar pill not having its intended medical result, it can still be described as effective. Jack’s search for the drug led him to let go of his fear of death in favor of the love of his family.

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Psilocybin Has Been Shown To Reduce Anxieties In Terminal Patients

As many viewers may have guessed, the Dylar pill in White Noise isn’t real. There really isn’t any medication that can target a specific phobia (via Frontiers). However, according to some studies, mushrooms (sometimes referred to as “shrooms”) may reduce anxiety and depression surrounding death (via New York Times).

Researchers discovered that psilocybin, the main component of magic mushrooms, could reduce end-stage cancer patients’ fear of death.

Researchers discovered that psilocybin, the main component of magic mushrooms, could reduce end-stage cancer patients’ fear of death. But whatever analogs there may be, DeLillo never intended Dylar to represent a real drug. To him, the story and the pill are comments on America’s obsession with death. He told the New York Times,

“It seemed to me further that in the three years I’d been away, a sense of death had begun to permeate not only television but the media in general. Death seems to be all around us – in the newspapers, in magazines, on television, on the radio…. I can’t imagine a culture more steeped in the idea of death. I can’t imagine what it’s like to grow up in America today. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a child, surrounded by the specter of death.”

The characters in White Noise are entranced by the idea of death. They are willing to give up parts of their humanity in the form of the Dylar pill to escape the fear of it. Essentially, they’d kill what makes them human to avoid just the fear of being killed. DeLillo also said,

“I lived abroad for three years and when I came back to this country in 1982, I began to notice something on television which I hadn’t noticed before. This was the daily toxic spill – there was the news, the weather and the toxic spill. This was a phenomenon no one even mentioned. It was simply a television reality. It’s only the people who were themselves involved in these terrible events who seemed to be affected by them. No one even talked about them. This was one of the motivating forces of ‘White Noise.’”

There is a toxic spill in White Noise and it’s more or less forgotten about in the film, but the fear of it and the death it brings isn’t. It’s those obsessions with fear and death that’s the beating heart of the story.



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