2017-05-11

Alcohol and Drinking Culture as Displayed in the Media

I hardly ever drink alcohol, in fact it was 5 years ago the first time I ever got drunk.  I have never been much of a big drinker, I prefer to drink at home than to drink out in public as if I am out I like to be able to drive, and I also have that fear of what if something happens and I can’t help!?

For many years I worked with students and young people and saw the effects alcohol and drink spiking took on people. I vowed that growing up I would always drink soft drinks when I am out for this reason. But now, as an adult, the odd sociable drink does not hurt.

I was watching seasons 5 and 6 of Suits in a mammoth binge catch up session. While I watched, I had an overwhelming need for a drink. Now I am not talking a cup of tea, but hard spirits. I never drink spirits. The more I watched, the more I felt the urge to drink along with, they are living out their stressful fictional lives, using alcohol as a crutch, as a way of celebrating, consoling, used like a medicine to heal all wounds.  The amber nectar that they sipped, and poured from fancy crystal decanters, added this stigma that if you work hard, you drink spirits.

It was not only Suits. Daredevil, The Magicians, Supernatural, Greys Anatomy, Iron Fist, and even 13 Reasons Why, all show that drinking, especially in the work place, is a standard practice it seems.  It was when I stood in a supermarket looking at various bottles of amber spirits that I realised that some form of subliminal messaging had gone on and I was now associating needing alcohol for stress, because I had empathy for those I saw on TV shows.

Very quickly I changed my mind and gave myself a shake. But it dawned on me that if I could be affected by this buþ realise what media influence the culture and perception of drinking is at the moment, will a younger audience be so easily swayed? Thinking that if you want to be educated, with good work morals, that in your office, or at least hidden in your desk draw and drunk from a mug so no one knows, drinking is the standard behaviour.

Back in the 80s and early 90s, smoking was seen on TV as the norm. I remember scenes from an office drama where someone’s desk was overflowing with ashtrays and the air dense with smoke. This was the norm. It was not frowned upon till much later on and banned from being shown on tv or movies unless it adds essence to the character. It was banned because children saw it as cool so stared smoking early.

Will we see a shift in the way that drinking is portrayed in the media in the bear future along the lines of the smoking guidelines? Do you think it is needed for TV dramas to depict that alcohol is needed in times of stress, heartache and anguish.

Can we change this up a bit? What’s wrong with a good old cuppa, and a chocolate hobnob if things are really stressful?

Love, hugs and a slug of whisky

V x

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