A new study reveals that the use of alcohol in movies influences minors to drink. The study conducted by Dartmouth Medical School researchers and published in the British Medical Journal BMJ Open, shows that teenagers and children are likely to be more influenced by what they see in films than what their parents teach them.
For those of us parents in the front lines battling the influence of Hollywood on our values and lifestyles — and media in general — this is not news.
In the famous raspy words of one of Hollywood’s icons, we don’t need no stinkin’ study to tell us what we already know. However, the study helps us gain control of what has become an-out-of-control epidemic among teenagers: underage drinking.
Hollywood has been using the party mentallity as the basis for movies for years. Everyone knows about Animal House and American Pie; most middle school and practically entire generations of millennial high school kids saw The Hangover.
Photo by Scott Gardner
The use of alcohol and drug-induced comedy featuring teenagers is almost imperceptable to parents and kids since it has become commonplace. Just watching the amount of press exposure celebrities garner when they get help at a drug rehab facility for alcohol or drug abuse, sends confusing messages to teenagers about whether this is actually a good thing or a bad thing.
There are two films about to open in Hollywood which blatantly feature high school drinking center stage to appeal to this age group: 21 Jump Street and Project X. The mayhem and morally reprehensible actions depicted in these two films (funny as they may be) are dangerous; they fuel the notion that underage drinking and partying are the way to be cool and that law enforcement knows this.
However, Hollywood’s use (or abuse) of alcohol in movies isn’t the only thing contributing to kids breaking the under-21 regulation. How about those parents who are still living with the high school mentality and reliving those years by propagating the notion that drinking is the only way to be cool? This illegal behavior is not reserved to the sketchy kids at school anymore. The ‘good’ kids have taken the partying lead away from the usual suspects and their complicit parents are pulling the reigns.
Recently, a reporter was harassed and her kids targeted by hatred on Facebook when she ran a report exposing teenagers and their parents for hosting underage drinking parties. Incredible state of affairs!
What are law-abiding teenagers and parents to do?
I suggest continue doing and preaching that your kids make the better choices because another study may help us feel we are on the right path by not falling prey or permitting our teenagers to succumb to the drinking trend Hollywood style.
“The long-term study by sociologist John Clausen tracked children born in the Great Depression for six decades and found that those whose lives turned out best — who obtained more education, had lower rates of divorce, had more orderly careers, achieved higher occupational status, and experienced fewer life crises such as unemployment — shared something he labeled “planful competence,” a combination of dependability, intellectual involvement, and self-confidence.
Those factors, he found, didn’t necessarily correspond to higher education or test scores. “There’s nothing that predicts better,” he wrote “than what they were like in high school.”
That’s right. What they were like in high school is likely the way they’ll live beyond that. Look around your own neighborhood and you’ll find you live among those parents stuck living in the heyday of their high school days through their kids.
Talking with our kids about the unrealistic Hollywood version of a good time in high school and the dangerous reality of underage drinking is our best counter attack to popular thinking. Besides, if you have kids in high school they already know who the pot-heads, drinkers, and party-parents are — hopefully so do you and can avoid them.
Interpret the passage from the latter study as you’d like, but IMHO, for those moms and dads who let their kids have the house and even buy the keg and red cups, here’s your sign…