Is Mother Superior a joke?

If Renton’s character is in question (see previous blog), Johnny Swan (nickname Mother Superior) as a real character is barely even there! In the film he is mainly seen in his lurid, semi-derelict den, fulfilling the public perception of his trade as a dealer. And yet he is the nice guy who makes sure Renton is taken to hospital during his over-dose! We are asked to believe a dealer would sit beside a comatose body waiting for a taxi, easily identifiable by the neighbours and almost inviting a visit from the police, which, without doubt, would lead to a pretty long stretch inside. This sequence feeds the criticism that Trainspotting the film is ‘soft on drugs’ – it doesn’t show how sordid and cruel was the moment of the deal, nor how dangerous was an overdose. There are other things going on in the film, of course, but the simple on-screen narrative is incomplete and misleading in places. There never was a nice-guy dealer.