MyLeaky Login

Join the largest Harry Potter Social Network on the Web! | FAQ

In the News

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.' "

Previous Article | Next Article Browse all Recent HBP Film News


164 Points
i don´t think the kids who had seen HPB will become alcoholics just because they seen it. And i think it is okay because Hermione is 16 there and in austria ,where i live ,teens could drink at the age of 16 so why aren´t Hermione allowed to drink
Posted by nutela17 on July 29, 2009, 12:50 PM report to moderator
3526 Points

this is ridiculous, it’s not a big deal at all! and ‘starring role’? really? no. god, get a sense of humor.

Posted by DesQueJteVois on July 29, 2009, 12:54 PM report to moderator
147 Points

Give me a freaking break! While there is a chance that children going to this (or any) movie may have their perception of the world altered by what they see on screen, it is the responsibility of the parents (and I am one) to explain and discuss anything they might find disturbing in a movie or TV show. In the Potter movies over a dozen people have been murdered including Dumbledore in this one and the article’s author is worried about a couple of drinks? I repeat: Give me a break!

Posted by realspace on July 29, 2009, 12:54 PM report to moderator
803 Points

oh and also for those wondering in previous posts: butterbeer is clearly alcoholic in the books, though Ron comments that it is not strong. winky gets drunk off it in GoF.

Posted by abandonedboyjon on July 29, 2009, 12:55 PM report to moderator
2105 Points

That’s simply ridiculous! Yes, Hagrid has always been shown in the books to have a problem with alcohol – Hermione chides him for it, in fact. And Slughorn seems to frink too much because of the guilt he carries at mentoring Tom Riddle. But there’s no issue with the students drinking!

I don’t think butterbeer is actually alcoholic by canon – Jo makes a big deal out of the fact that Winky gets drunk on butterbeer in OotP, but it has never affected humans, and students start going to Hogsmeade and drinking it at 13 – Lupin even gives Harry some! I believe Jo imagined it to be the wizard equivalent of ginger beer, a British pub-served carbonated drink flavored with ginger and sugar and lemon, with some sort of magical extra deliciousness, but not booze that would make the students turn into alcoholics! Rob even talks about hoping to get fire whiskey, but isn’t able to until he comes of age.

Movies are movies, but the books are canon.

Sometimes I think people will say or write anything to snipe at Harry Potter’s success.

Posted by Agrippa1 on July 29, 2009, 12:56 PM report to moderator
141 Points

I was fine with it and didn’t really notice. But now that it’s being pointed out everywhere I just have to say, “Really? Is that ALL we got when we walked out of the theater?”

Posted by Katherine on July 29, 2009, 01:01 PM report to moderator
3554 Points

I agree with Lisee_Lu’s comment.
The movie just showed it how it was in canon, and to be honest, I don’t think butterbeer really has much alcohol in it anyway. It’s more like root beer, I guess. It really only has an effect if you drink a ton of it (or if you’re a house elf). Nobody in the film went on drinking rampages. I didn’t even notice how much alcohol consumption was going on, until it was pointed out in this article. I don’t think it makes a bad influence on kids, and if parents aren’t happy with it, then they can deal with it themselves with their own children, rather than making a worldwide fuss and trying to keep it away from ALL children/teens. You’re not the mother of everyone; just your own kids, sorry. =/

Posted by Mera004 on July 29, 2009, 01:08 PM report to moderator
510 Points

The only scene with alcohol in it that wasn’t directly from the books was the one in The Three Broomsticks. And in the books, Harry, Ron, and Hermione start ordering Butterbeer from third year on! It likely doesn’t have as much alcohol as the average ale in real life (5% abv) but more like 1 – 2% abv as evidenced by the fact that one or two doesn’t make the kids tipsy in the books, and that tiny Winky can consume many in a day without alcohol poisoning. Hagrid getting drunk happens in the book, and so does the mead scene. You’d think that a parent taking a 10 year old to watch such a dark movie would read the source material first and know what is in it! Seriously, people need to learn that the later books in the Harry Potter series deal with adult themes because the books matured along with the reader base.

Posted by GreenLightening on July 29, 2009, 01:09 PM report to moderator
43 Points

I’m glad there are enough commentators here to voice my indignation at such an asinine article so I can get on with my day and not dwell on it, thunder satisfactorily stolen.

Posted by ZoeNecrosis on July 29, 2009, 01:09 PM report to moderator
3031 Points

this is sooo stupid it in the book its in the movie and if people dont like dont take your kid its the parents fault if they dont like it you dont let your kids watch porn then complain to the people that made it that there was to much nudity in it this is just stupid…….

Posted by Horcruxalej on July 29, 2009, 01:10 PM report to moderator
3554 Points

Oh, and I also agree with realspace for pointing out that there’s a lot of murder and death in the series, but apparently these people are more worried about a bit of alcohol? Seriously? Wow.

Posted by Mera004 on July 29, 2009, 01:10 PM report to moderator
3031 Points

oh yeah the tv! the box in the living room that is pretty much the babysitters of the kids whos parents are out complaining i would have to say that tv shows way worse thing on it then drinking a little bit..

Posted by Horcruxalej on July 29, 2009, 01:14 PM report to moderator
1642 Points

hahahah…lol…well its rated PG12,right? besides,to me it was funny and it really shows reality,doesn’t it? thats modern world nowadays, isn’t it? and yeah…our heros doesn’t have a drinking problem.they have surveiving problem! deaths and tortures,evil!

Posted by Matea on July 29, 2009, 01:17 PM report to moderator

This just reinforces that the media is too pervasive and has nothing better to do than try and drudge up trivialities to create controversy.

For crying out loud, it’s just a movie. The voodoo practitioners (AKA psychobabble psychologists) need to get a grip and get a life.

Posted by jmalone on July 29, 2009, 01:21 PM report to moderator
1452 Points

sigh Never mind dead bodies, setting fire to everything, and watching a dead body fall from a very great height. That was all ok for a parent to tolerate. It’s the drinking that’s corrupting the minds of youth. The drinking!!! sigh
As a teacher, this is my official position: if you aren’t sure your kids should see it, go see it by yourself first!
As a Harry Potter fan, this is my official position: Hey lady, grow a brain!

Posted by Acciorusty {ROAR!} on July 29, 2009, 01:22 PM report to moderator
You must be logged in to MyLeaky to comment. Please click here to log in.

Finding Hogwarts
PotterCast Interviews Jo Rowling! Click here to Listen! The Books Everything...Half-Blood Prince...and the rest of the HP Films Leaky Apps
Learn to knit your own 'Weasley Sweater'. Learn to brew your own 'Butterbeer'. Find out how at Leaky Crafts!

Scribbulus Essay Project

Issue 28 - Aug. 2014

Scribbulus is THE place for Leaky Cauldron readers to submit their essays and opinion pieces!
See more over at Scribbulus!

Guess That Book

"So that's a house-elf?" Ron muttered. "Weird things, aren't they?"[br]"Dobby was weirder," said Harry fervently.