OCEANA, W.Va. — A resident of Oceana says the new film “Oxyana” does not accurately portray his Wyoming County town.

“Our community is filled with people who work hard, who are educated, who play in that town, work in that town and do what they can do to make it a better town,” Dennie Morgan said on Tuesday’s MetroNews Talkline.

“Oxyana,” a documentary from director Sean Dunne, recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. It has not yet been widely released.

Morgan has not seen it, but he already has opinions. “We’re very unhappy with the way Mr. Dunne has portrayed our town in the press,” Morgan said.

Film reviews say “Oxyana” focuses on the OxyContin epidemic in Oceana to illustrate the spread of drug dependency in the U.S. today.

But Morgan said he thinks Dunne came into Oceana with the story he wanted to tell already formed in his mind.

“Mr. Dunne selected his subjects for the film very carefully, and his agenda has been to portray Oceana in the worst possible light,” he said.

“We’re not going to be naive and say there’s not a drug problem in this area. There is a drug problem in Central Appalachia with prescription drugs, but he’s thrown the baby out with the bathwater. You don’t have to throw an entire town on the bus in order to further an agenda.”

Morgan is helping organize a townhall meeting to bring together residents to talk about the issue at 6 p.m. on May 31 at Oceana Middle School.

bubble graphic


bubble graphic


  • Scott

    not a drug problem, a social problem. its everywhere in WV. maybe worse in some areas than others, but its there.

  • Justin Blankenship

    Just curious as to how many people have watched the film yet?

    • Kurt Cobain

      Nobody has seen it. It's not even out yet. Everybody is freaking over the previews. NOW I REALLY WANNA SEE IT!

  • Allen Johnson

    Oceana represents hundreds of small communities in southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and adjacent parts of Virginia. One should check out the Gallup/Healthways studies that show this region to be rock-bottom in the nation in quality of life, especially indices such as physical health, emotional health (unhappiness) and "hope." That, my friends, predisposes the populations to escape in illicit drug abuse. Why is it so abysmal? I blame a lot on the predatory extractive industries such as coal that squeezed out a diverse economy and then has gone boom to bust. But the prime reason, I think, is the out-migration of our bright, talented young people which has narrowed the band of middle-class value community people. And this creates a rippling effect of weaker education values, community spirit, and moral values.Just as an example, I worked as a librarian in WV for over a decade. WV has the worst local funding for libraries in the nation (unless Mississippi has beaten us out). The schools are teaching for "the test" rather than developing creativity with skills, and I fear the churches are still too much in "escapism religion." There are strengths in these communities, especially love of land and family, but the hopelessness and despair is eroding this. Meanwhile, state leadership is looking at band-aids rather than squaring up to the systemic problem. The region has long been exploited and abused, and the wreckage is visible.

    • keith

      Oxy addiction and crystal meth addiction have ravaged small towns throughout the country. Poverty and despair, corporate exploitation, extreme unemployment, mountain top removal, poisoned ground water, underfunded schools and over funded prisons are creating situations where some people can only manage their pain (emotional, physical, spiritual) with oxy, meth, or alcohol. This movie is not intended to disrespect the folks of Oceana. It is a close-up portrait of USA, of rural Oregon, central California, of New York city, West Virginia, of your home town...

    • GregG

      Very well state Mr. Johnson. I agree 100%.

    • Scott

      like the teaching for the "test" comment. very true.

  • Jeremiah

    I grew up in Wyoming County. I graduated and left in 2001. The first time I seen Oxyana (spelled Oxyeana at that point) was on the sign welcoming people to town. It had been changed with white spray paint I would assume by a local. At the time I lived in Wyoming county it was a common name for the area. I don't think this guy has created anything new. I do not feel like the majority of people in that area are on prescription pills and addicted but the area had a reputation for it before anyone decided to make a film about it. I am sure many people in this state and especially Wyoming County will hate this film as bad as the people in the state and especially Boone County hate the Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. But please do not act like this guy came in to some random town and created something new. I hope maybe throwing back the curtains and shedding some light on the situation may actually cause something to be done to address the situation. I am tired of hearing of peoples lives from back home being ruined or ended early by this lifestyle. Far to many in my graduating class are gone now from OD. If you look back in the news just a few weeks I am sure you will see another life ruined and I am sure drugs had a lot to do with it.

  • Mark

    As a former resident of the area who works in health sciences, it pains me to see addiction in that or any community. But here's the rest of the story: Oceana residents invented the name "Oxyana" themselves. Several years ago residents and local legislators and politicians coined the phrase. They complained drug deals and prostitution were being conducted in the open, even at the McDonalds drive-thru (which I never saw or believed). But these publicity hounds demanded action by the Governor and police. Responding to the politics of it, the state got involved and several arrests were made. All the delegates and others got their pictures in the paper as making a difference, and they all patted each other on the back. A police officer friend of mine told me at the time that Oceana was not the worst part of the county for drug dealling or addiction, but it was an example of the squeaky wheel getting the grease. Now that it's worked too well, they want to run away from the publicity that they created. They created the pox upon their own house.

  • Brian

    As a born 'n' bred Southern West Virginian I resent depictions of our local people and communities as entertainment for the NY elite. But, instead of focusing misdirected anger and resentment towards this documentary, which hasn't even been shown in WV,why not address chronic substance use in our southern counties and its causes like unemployment, poverty, depression, a long history of exploitation of our people and land by out of state coal corp. who use, abuse and then abandon us,etc. Incarceration isn't the answer, as it doesn't seem to reduce drug addiction and is waste of taxpayer dollars.

  • Bub T

    This guy could have done the same damn story if not worse in his own hometown, guaranteed!its just a catchy name and apparently gonna make some money. DRUGS ARE EVERYWHERE---- and I mean EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!!!! IM AN OCEANA INDIAN AND DAMN PROUD OF MY HERITAGE!!!

    • RLS

      What year did you graduate?

  • JoAnne

    Our community has be degraded by the documentary but we as community have sense of responsibility as well for allowing these things to get to this point. I was born and raised in this community, left here for 26 years and come back to a ghost town. I am shocked to go through my town and see that citizens are so scared to be out there home and doing normal everyday things because the druggies are taking over. I am not opposed to the documentary of our town if it is for the right reasons and brings positive attention to a problem that has gotten so far out of hand that he can not be handled on local level anymore. My issue with documentary is that Mr Dunne told blatant lies in clips that have been shown thus far. Granted we have a serious problem in this community but people need to get back to our old standards of morals and values and step and out and let those abusing and using see this is not going to occur in our back or front doors. It is not community that make it citizens, it is the citizens who make the community. If you are enabling drug deals and those activities to go on right in front of you and not willing to report it for fears then you are enable the druggies to take over. I serve a God that is greater then what any druggie can do to me, but I for one and not going to sit back and allow it occur all around me and not report it. We the people have to be eyes and ears for this community in time of need. Our police force is not equipped with man power or budget to address this problem alone. What became of neighborhood watch programs, what become of church gathering and visitations out in communities, presences of people will run druggies into hiding or to take their issues off our streets. But as of now the druggies are ruling streets and productive, hard working citizens are living like victims scared to come out their doors. And by no means am I saying put yourself in harms way. But what I am saying is the home you live in, yard you care for, businesses you support and purchase from in our town should be something you should be able to enjoy at your leisure not only in day time hours when you feel safe. Crime and drug activity does not have a specific time to occur, it is whenever the individual feels they are ready to act upon impulse to use or commit a crime. So my question is to the people you are willing to come out and express your concerns about an exposed issues, where were when all this was beginning. I do not care who it is if you are in this town you are directly or indirectly affected one way or another be it you have a family member that is using, or that has had things stolen and sold for money, personal property damaged by druggies, so when are people going to stand up and fight for what is theirs and put these individuals out of harms reach. When I grew up here we were raised by the community, as well as our individual parents, we never had to fear the well being of our children when they were out. We walked and cruised this town all hours of night with no fears. I mean I see it and I am fan just like the next one, people come out in mass numbers to a sporting event but you can not come out in mass numbers to take back the town, a town and community that our elders built and left for us to cherish, love and protect and uphold to the highest. We are stereotyped as a state and community because of lack of budget and issues that are out there but we do not have to stand for those things, proof in actions, words are not worth time of day until you are willing to back them up. And now this is what this town and community needs don't talk about the problem if you are not one that is willing to get up and be a part in changing and be a solution to the problem. I am very proud of my hometown, my upbringing and the blessing I have of knowing so many great people. My father was one of the great ministers to ever be in this community and I will fight for what I believe til then end. But as you walk in your home close your doors to problems around you remember that out of sight means out of mind but not of business. Take back what is rightfully ours and what we have worked for.

    • Larry

      Congrats, you have just won the longest comment in history award!

    • josh

      Well said!

  • Betty

    I grew up in Oceana, and return for the annual reunion picnic whenever I can. I see the comments on Facebook, I've read the published articles on Oxyana. When home, I DO NOT see drug-addicted people walking the streets, harassing those who would dare take a walk in town. I see proud residents working to make the town a better place. I see folks eating dinner at the local restaurants Saturday evening, attending church on Sunday. I see posts and pictures of the kids in school and band, enjoying life in a small town. Oceana is still a great place. I am PROUD to be from Oceana, WV - small-town America.

    • Jason

      Thanks for your positive comment! I'm originally from Wyoming county (near Pineville) and I know there's a drug problem - the court docket can prove that. However, the drug problem is not just in Wyoming county (or more specifically Oceana). It's everywhere. I also have never seen any of the things you mentioned. My parents, who still live in Wyoming county, have never been bothered by drug dealers. I've always felt safe walking the streets of Oceana. I have many fond memories of that place.

  • Oceana Indian


    An interview and good read.

  • Brian

    Cue the indignant, butthurt, hyper-sensitive, crybaby West Virginians. Nevermind; they're already here.

    • RLS

      Someone show this idiot the exit.

      • wvtd

        doubt she could find it if you led her to it.

  • Karissa

    It is unfair to focus on one town in particular because the name is catchy.. Southern wv as a whole has a significant drug problem and not just the town of Oceana

    • bh

      When filming a documentary, the producer usually narrows their focus. Such as a particular community or person. It's a much easier and affordable way to illustrate a subject or theme.

  • CaptainQ

    Besides, it's much easier to 'slam' West Virginia than it is to expose issues in big U.S. cities. West Virginians/hillbillies/rural people are not on the 'protected Politically Correct' list of minority groups forbidden to belittle, so that's why our state and it's citizens are 'safe targets' for left-leaning film makers to exploit. Now if this director had criticized groups like Hispanics, African Americans, women, LGBT folks or Muslims, the Main Stream Media would be ALL OVER THEM with cries of bigotry, racism, homophobia (or anything else they can think of)! But groups like Christians and 'hicks' are ALWAYS acceptable targets for exploitation in the eyes of 'Mainstream' society. Sadly, we're going to be seeing more of this kind of expose' filmed in WV in the near future. It's always easier to 'profit' from a problem rather than solve it.

    • Hop'sHip

      Captain: To support you rant here is the statement from that left-wing director:

      Directors Statement

      "It wasn’t long after I first set foot in Oceana, WV that I knew something wasn’t right. In fact, something was desperately wrong. This was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen, filled with hands down the most honest and welcoming people I had ever met. Yet there it was, a constant and growing hum of anxiety. So we started to ask questions, and we started to get answers, all pointing towards a familiar narrative. Greed that led to overprescribing pharmaceuticals that led to addiction that led to poverty, lawlessness and hopelessness. Each story we’ve heard is more harrowing and haunting than the previous. Here is a place that represents our failures as a country, a microcosm of everything that’s gone wrong with the American Dream. Oxyana. These stories needed to be seen; they needed to be heard. Residents who were once talented, charismatic, hard working, God fearing, normal people have been reduced to nothing by the uncontrollable lure of this pill. There are high school girls with $800/day habits and families, who literally can’t provide food for their children, yet have full prescription bottles. There are former miners who have turned to dealing to make ends meet and pregnant women selling their bodies for another fix. It is a seemingly endless line of people who have lost the will to live."

      Let's go to New York and lynch him!

    • GregG

      Maybe Captain if this state would actually do something about the Rx drug problem, the meth problem, the stress issues, the poor education system and all the other negative issues that is overtaking this state then these film makers and network TV stations wouldn't have any reason to be in our state. But nothing will ever be done because all these issues have one thing in common..........it takes money to fix them. Be it building more prisons, paying for better teachers or providing mental healthcare. Is so much easier (and more profitable) for the "powers that be" to say we don't have the money than to actually fix the problems. Maybe if we had all the money that the coal, gas, oil and timber industry has cheated this state out of we could address many of these issues.

      • NorthernWVman

        You really think throwing more money at the problem will miraculously fix it? Throwing money at the things you say is only fixing the symptoms not the root. The same thing as putting a filling over an abscessed tooth. It will continue to rot away. We have got so far from the core of the problem which in my opinion is the respect for oneself, respect for others, taking reponsibility for your own actions and good old fashoined family values that we have resorted to these simple fixes. Take a gander at the 40's and 50's and compare that to the present. tell me were have we gone wrong? We have great quality teaching staff, more prisons than ever before, more mental health and more governmental "help" than ever before. Sure does not seem to be working to me.

        • GregG

          "tell me were have we gone wrong?"....well a couple right off the top on my head would be...busting our unions and "trickle down economics".

          • wvtd

            unions are a big part of the problem when they support a
            job killer like Obama.

        • josh

          Comparing today to the 40's and 50's is comparing apples to oranges. I am from and love the state of WV. I grew up their, I graduated from WVU, and one day would like to retire back in the great state of WV. I hope people continue to make movies and bring attention to the pill problem in WV in hopes that one day people living in those towns will take ownership and begin trying to eradicate the problem. My parents still live in the town I grew up so i visit often. The area has been reduced to poor, welfare recipients, addicted to pain medications. To be fair to the WVians many of these individuals are from Baltimore. To top it all off most of these people I have decribed are heathy 20 year olds that could work anywhere.

  • JohnQ

    Nobody cares about drugs in NYC anymore ...

  • Darren

    Why doesn't he do a story on drugs in NYC?