Oceana, West Virginia, sits squarely in one of God’s blind spots. It’s one of the old coal mining communities that feeds the nations insatiable appetite for energy. Set in the middle of unbelievable natural beauty, a beauty that in the last number of years, has been marred by the Appalachian scourge of Oxycontin. Life persists, but it’s a living that few Americans could explain or even believe; closer in kind to the world of a medieval plague. Men and women die epidemically. The addicts— who are the vast majority, and all nice enough people— sell, scramble, and steal in an economy of nigh-endtimes desperation. Worn down and out by the pills, the mines, or the indignity of both, everyone is easily twice their own age, and unable to imagine an existence outside of coal, subsidies, and prescription narcotics. Things could hardly get darker— or more fucked and implausible— than in this place called Oceana.
Nevertheless, there it is. A little village in the valley of Death, where children are born, groceries are still purchased, and festivity is expressed through firearms and poor decision-making. But is this enough to live for? Is it enough to provideanyone with any hope or deliverance? Oxyana is an unflinchingly close focus on the anguish and horrors of a community that the rest of the country would just as soon forget. A nearly Biblical narrative of American forsakenness.