New York Times Article on Amount of Alcohol Use in Half-Blood Prince


Jul 29, 2009

Posted by: SueTLC

HBP Film

A columnist for the New York Times has written a piece that asks “Does Hogwarts have a drinking problem?” in relation to what they seem to feel is rampant drinking that takes place in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The article starts out by claiming “parents may be surprised by the starring role given to alcohol. In
scene after scene, the young wizards and their adult professors are
seen sipping, gulping and pouring various forms of alcohol to calm
their nerves, fortify their courage or comfort their sorrows.”

The author of the piece continues: “Previous Harry Potter movies have shown drinking, but this one takes it to a new level. In one scene, Harry, Ron and Hermione order butterbeers at the pub, and Hermione ends up with a frothy mustache. While it’s never been entirely clear whether butterbeer is alcoholic, it seems to have an effect on the normally uptight Hermione, who acts tipsy walking home as she throws her arms around the boys.

the mother of a 10-year-old Harry Potter fan, I was taken aback by the
reaction of the young people in the theater. They snickered at
Hermione’s goofy grin and, later, guffawed when an inebriated Hagrid
passed out. While I don’t think my daughter fully understood what was
going on, I wondered how other parents, educators and addiction experts
would react.

Liz Perle, a mother of two teenage boys and the
editor in chief of Common Sense Media, which reviews books, movies and
Web content aimed at children, said she was bothered by so many scenes
showing alcohol as a coping mechanism. “Hermione is such a
tightly wound young lady, but she’s liberated by some butterbeer’ she
said. “The message is that it gives you liquid courage to put your arms
around the guy you really like but are afraid to.”

…”Overseas audiences may respond differently to the drinking scenes. In
England, the legal drinking age is 18, but 16-year-olds can order
alcohol if they’re eating a meal. (Even by those standards, the
teenagers in the movie were flouting the law: during the pub scene, no
food was served.)

A response from Warner Bros “said the drinking scenes were “open to different interpretations. ‘One
of our main objectives in bringing the Harry Potter films to the screen
has been to remain as faithful to their original source material as
created by J. K Rowling’ the company wrote in an e-mail message,
adding that the wizarding world “should not be held to the same
standards as the real world.’ “

Finding Hogwarts

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.