Cosmopolitans on Sex and the City, constant group gatherings at the bar in How I Met Your Mother, and the seemingly bottomless glasses of wine on Cougar Town show just how far the media’s glamorization of alcohol has gone.
Television shows, from The Simpsons to Mad Men, portray our understood acceptance of drinking as a recreational activity. Homer Simpson is the cartoon portrayal of America’s “everyman” who goes to work and then has a few too many beers to unwind. The cool, suave demeanor of Man Men’s Don Draper is largely attributed to his chic alcohol consumption. Don is much more glamorized than Homer, but the concept is similar.
Movies are not any better. Recently, films like The Hangover, and its sequel, Project X, Old School, and Superbad center around alcohol, and in the past it was Animal House, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Swingers, and Dazed and Confused.
Is the media glamorizing alcohol partially responsible for all the binge drinking and accepted partying behaviors we see in so many young people?
Charlie Sheen was not held responsible for his actions for quite a while. He still stared on Two and a Half Men, while playing a character who was living the same life Charlie was off set. The media outlets cannot seem to get enough of Charlie’s “Winning!” mentality even though his drinking (and drugging) ways will surely not end well. After several failed marriages, lost jobs and sources of income, and revoked custody of his children, when will he, and the media at large, stop glamorizing alcohol and drug abuse?
A large part of the problem may be addressed by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The organization is requiring new rules and restrictions for how wineries, distilleries, and breweries advertise their products on social media websites.
People all over the world can see marketing efforts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. With the new guidelines, the online presence of alcohol glamorization will at least be limited. If a winery, for example, has a large following on Facebook, is that encouraging more people to view drinking as cool? Is the media’s glamorization happening under every facet of “media” and reaching way too many impressionable young people?
If a teenage male sees The Hangover multiple times, watches The Simpsons and How I Met Your Mother, is friends with a beer brewery on Facebook, and constantly sees news reports of Charlie Sheen, and other out of control celebrities featured in the spotlight, what impact does this have?
What message are we sending the next generation when we allow the media to glamorize alcohol? Instead, what do we want to say?