When considering how to advertise a product, there are usually at least two common goals: maximizing the viewing of your product and portraying it in the most positive light possible. You want your product to appear catchy and fun to use with few consequences. This is exactly what the alcohol industry has been doing for years. Studies conducted in 2009 and published in the March 2009 issue of Alcohol and Alcoholism showed that people drank more when viewing alcohol consumption on TV. With films like The Hangover trilogy blowing up on the big screen, the presence of alcohol has never been stronger.
In 1998, a law called the Master Settlement Agreement prohibited tobacco companies from buying their way onto the big screen. What was happening was that children were seeing people constantly smoking in television and film without any consequences. Tobacco was made out to be fun and harmless. In the same vein, binge drinking is on the rise among teenagers, and the source of its appeal shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to parents. The biggest fad in pop culture has long been getting “loose” and out of control. Rather than making movies or TV shows all rated R or M, a lot of PG-13 movies are starting to show children that they can drink without any real consequences, other than a fun adventure and some crazy shenanigans with friends.
Apart from being ridiculously funny, movies such as The Hangover trilogy are sending children the wrong message. Even though they are appropriately rated R, they are still accessible to children and teens via the internet. When was the last time a hangover was fun for anyone? If I drank as much as those four guys did in the first movie, I wouldn’t have the energy or the focus to pull off a great reconnaissance mission to find my best friend. I would let them stay there and figure out their own mess while I puked and stuffed Tums in my mouth.
If the film were to be realistic, Bradley Cooper would have been in jail for a DUI, Zach Galifianakis would most likely have died, and Ed Helms would have had a serious concussion from being knocked out by Mike Tyson. Either that, or he would have had his ear chewed off. Of course, this is a movie and it’s meant to be entertaining, which is definitely is — but nothing is being done in the way of damage control. No one is speaking up to the movie’s young fan base about the real dangers that are common with drinking. If children and teens tend to mimic behavior, then something must be done about the constant romanticism of alcohol.
-Josh Gordon, Editor