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

HBP Film
Posted by: sue
July 29, 2009, 11:38 AM

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.

As 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.' "

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I wanted to type a comment on this article but I am too drunk because watching HBP has turned me into an alcoholic. LOL.

Posted by Mimblewimble13 on July 29, 2009, 05:41 PM report to moderator
77 Points

oh please! get a life! But could someone explain butterbeer?

Posted by smgkkg on July 29, 2009, 05:47 PM report to moderator
176 Points

That’s just dumb. If you were a good parent, you shouldn’t have to worry about your kids being so easily influenced by movies because you would know that your kids know better than that (eh? I hope that came out right…). And if movies really did influence your kid that much and that easily, then there is something obviously wrong with your parenting…

Posted by flyingporkeypine on July 29, 2009, 05:54 PM report to moderator
42 Points

this is sooo not necessary lets get a grip people!!!

Posted by auerbyhour on July 29, 2009, 05:58 PM report to moderator
45 Points

Everything else that has to be said has been said by other commenters, so I’m just going to roll my eyes at this article.

Posted by KarliMeaghan on July 29, 2009, 06:01 PM report to moderator

That Warner Brothers response is nothing but a steaming pile of cow patties! In the book, Hermione does NOT get tipsy on butterbeer. The trio aren’t even in a good mood when they leave The Three Broomsticks. Page 248 reads, “It had not been a fun trip and the weather was getting worse the longer they stayed.” What the filmmakers did was not interpretation – it was fabrication.

How dare WB try to dump responsibility on Jo Rowling!

Posted by Jillxoxo on July 29, 2009, 06:01 PM report to moderator
53 Points

These people have CLEARLY not read the books!!
in Goblet of Fire Harry CLEARLY says “but butterbeer’s not strong stuff” – and if in fact they HAVE read the books then they are IDIOTS!!! who should learn to appreciate that Harry Potter is awesome – leave it at that!
though they might have accentuated the “alcohol content” in the movie (and possibly in butterbeer) it was purely for comedic justice! you know, what artists use to make things FUNNY!!
and yes, the characters in this book (and movie) DO drink alcohol, but not in butterbeer, and they’re NOT underage – what was the word again? oh right!: IN THEIR WORLD!! you know, that magical place that WIZARDS live in??
to end my rant, PEOPLE ARE IDIOTS!!!!!

Posted by albus1881 on July 29, 2009, 06:14 PM report to moderator
140 Points

WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I loved the scene in Hagrid’s hut because one minute harry is all serious then completly stupid repeating the word “poof”!!!!! I loved HBP and thought it was the funniest movie yet!!!!! I saw the midnight opening on mega screen and the whole theater was cracking up almost he whole movie!!!!!!!!!!! HARRY POTTER RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by hplove4lifeROAR!!!!!!! on July 29, 2009, 06:26 PM report to moderator
30 Points

I think a lot of this comes from the American attitude towards drinking. I am from the U.S. and it seems that America alternately applauds and shuns the activity… meaning, it goes along with everything from ballgames, rock concerts to frat parties (in movies as well as in real life), but abuse of it is a very large problem (wonder why?). I’ve long thought that the hyper-critical judgmental viewpoints that lead to articles and opinions such as this come from our country’s puritanical routes, as well as hypersensitivity to the possibility of being judged for actions that would in any way cause negative opinions on us. We have become a nation that is so politically correct that we’re watching every move we make and every word we speak. Department of Child and Family Services jumps in at the very suggestion of abuse. We have become so disgustingly aware that everyone is critical of anything and everything, including children’s movies.
I’m a recovering alcoholic. I’ve ready the HP books many times. I love them, and I don’t think that they would send me out on a relapse. When we went to see the Half Blood Prince, my friend’s 11 year old son said “He’s high” over and over again when we saw the scene where Harry takes the Felix Felicity potion, and I thought that was disturbing, not because of the movie or its contents necessarily, but because of HIS reaction to seeing someone looking a bit “off” or goofy. I’ve often wondered: if the US weren’t so completely obsessed with drinking, if we didn’t glorify and then criticize its consumption, if we would have such a problem with it to begin with.
I’ve always thought that butterbeer was a type of soft drink (with the exception of Winky, we never see any of the characters get drunk from the stuff), just like pumpkin juice is a sort of vegetable drink (think carrot juice). I think the writer of this article is taking it way too seriously… I can recall a few movies that I watched as a young teen: Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Porkies, Animal House… they weren’t exactly alcohol free (not to mention sex and violence). But I don’t blame them for my being an alcoholic. Really, it IS up to the parents to supervise and screen what kids watch. All this article really serves to accomplish is to call attention to the fact that we, as Americans, tend to blame others for our problems. That, and we like to sue people. Makes me want to become an ex-patriot, myself!

Posted by MorgaineLeFay on July 29, 2009, 06:31 PM report to moderator
39 Points

When I was reading the books, it never crossed my mind that butterbeers were alcoholic beverages. I always thought that they were a wizard’s version of root beer, which is definitely non-alcoholic.

With regards to the movie, I thought that Hermione was just having a good time with her best friends. I do not believe she was drunk. She did not seem “tipsy” to me when she wrapped her arms around the boys while walking back to Hogwarts. It was not like she was tripping and falling all over the place and being incoherent. If that was the case, I would think Harry and Ron would carry her back. For crying out loud, a drunk person would not have reacted like she did when Katie Bell was cursed. Someone like that would have said, “Oooohh, look at that flying girl in the air” in a dreamy and incoherent way.

To tell you the truth, I really did not pay much attention to the drinking, especially when you consider the events which take place before and after the scenes. In that sense, it was not very obvious.

However, it cannot be denied that films and other forms of media do have the ability to influence people’s behavior for good and for ill. There have been people who have done unfortunate things because they saw it in a movie, and thought it was okay to do it in actual life. These parents have every right to be concerned about the drinking if they believe their children might try to emulate it.

In the end, this is not a big deal, and is probably the work of those who have always hated Harry Potter, and are jealous of its stunning success.

Posted by LoyalGryffindor90 on July 29, 2009, 06:32 PM report to moderator

If she had taken the time to read the books and picked over them like she did this movie. Then she would know there is NO ALCOHOL in Butterbeer!

For crying out loud…Get a life Lady!

Posted by Wicca on July 29, 2009, 06:48 PM report to moderator
1232 Points

Ignoring the fact that people complaining about drinking in HBP need to get a life…why does the NYT think this is newsworthy? We do have more important things to worry about these days. By the way, I don’t recall people complaining about book!Trelawney.

Posted by SeveraSphyrna on July 29, 2009, 06:51 PM report to moderator
281 Points

Hahaha! I was always surprised by the LACK of alcohol in all of the other films! I had always thought that they had made some kind of deal w/anti-alcohol groups. This woman has certainly never read the books, as drinking is even more prevelent there. Trelawney is a borderline alcoholic, and Winky certainly has a drinking problem. I saw nothing innapropriate with the drinking in the film.

Posted by pixi jo *ROAR* on July 29, 2009, 06:53 PM report to moderator
159 Points

This article shows how mainstream media is going down the toilet.

Posted by PigmyPuffPie on July 29, 2009, 06:56 PM report to moderator
649 Points

Oh my gosh! That is so stupid! Who cares….

Posted by TaylerWeasley on July 29, 2009, 06:58 PM report to moderator
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