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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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2976 Points

Absolutely ridiculous. It did not have a “starring role”. There was occasionally a little drinking, but that’s all! People can be so uptight :\

Posted by Jade Danielle (WBM) on July 29, 2009, 01:22 PM report to moderator

Oh ffs – because little precious has never ever before been exposed to alcohol. /sarcasm. Give it a rest. Next time, mumsy dear, screen the movie yourself BEFORE you take your kid to it to see if there is anything objectionable (to you) in it. It’s called parenting, try it, it’s your job to do so – not anyone else’s.

Posted by Thursdayschild on July 29, 2009, 01:23 PM report to moderator
75 Points

jeeze people make such a big deal out of nothing. its all comical…hermione drinking that butterbeer was hilarious. and of course hagrid and slughorn drinking and singing that song haha classic

Posted by mynameisbrock on July 29, 2009, 01:26 PM report to moderator
154 Points

Um, is it just me? I assumed that butterbeer was non-alchoholic. Like “root” beer. Are these people serious?

Posted by dcrazmo {ROAR} on July 29, 2009, 01:28 PM report to moderator
330 Points

Wow… As many others have pointed out, I’m a bit surprised that they’re making such a big fuss over the “drinking” scenes when there was torture, murder, and maiming about. Also, I was always under the impression that butterbeer was simply a delightful drink for people to enjoy, though with an ingredient that produced a drunken result in house-elves. And if it does contain alcohol, it’s clearly made out in the books to be completely neglible and ineffectual to people. Out of personal preference, I hold there is no alcohol, but that’s only my opinion.
The “tipsy Hermione” scene that they reference, I interpreted completely differently. The times I’ve seen the movie, I took Hermione’s actions as a sign of her exasperation at Ron’s and Harry’s discussion. They’re walking behind her talking about what she said in the pub about kissing Ron; and considering how far along the trail they are, they’ve been discussing it for a while now; I can understand Hermione feeling a bit exasperated. To show she was “only joking,” she puts her arms around both of her friends. Of course, Hagrid’s and Slughorn’s drunkenness is canon, but it’s always been clear in the books that Hagrid likes his drink.
I really didn’t see a serious drinking problem in the movie; it’s not like they come out and yell, “Hey! We’re going to get drunk now! You should all do the same. Got it?” If they feel like this is a legitimate problem of course, I’m glad they’re taking a stand for their views even though it does seem a bit extreme to me.

Posted by Wolfheart (WBM!) on July 29, 2009, 01:30 PM report to moderator
84 Points

Most underage persons, and young adults, do drink. That doesn’t mean they get wasted… and even if someone did get wasted in the film, how about just trying to portray realistic teenage situations? And it’s not about portraying it as something good or something bad, but just about portraying reality.

Posted by Germain on July 29, 2009, 01:37 PM report to moderator
388 Points

Here in the flatlands of the US, they are running ads that basically attack parents who teach there children to drink responsibly. Apparently, once one turns 21 they magically can handle alcohol with no prior training. Of course, if they step out of line as an adult the punishment will be severe.

Posted by Hydrus on July 29, 2009, 01:37 PM report to moderator
67 Points

That’s really ridiculous. It actually offends me very much that someone would take one butterbeer to such an extreme view. Besides, if your child is so impressionable as to take ONE SCENE in which the main characters have ONE DRINK and go home to become an alcoholic because of it you should probably not be taking them to see the movie in which an evil overlord uses DEAD BODIES and a teenager tries to kill a professor.

Posted by muggleslovemagick on July 29, 2009, 01:38 PM report to moderator
1749 Points

LOL I had to laugh at this!!! I grew up having the last bit of my Dad’s beer since I was 2 years old. However I never saw my parents drunk. I am an adult now, and guess what? I hardly drink at all! The parent’s influence is much more effective than anything else. If you don’t want your kids seeing it…don’t let them…but I saw anothing wrong with it. If you’re worried, TALK to your kids! Discuss it with them! Be parents! (and I am one, so I can say that!)


Posted by Rin68nyr on July 29, 2009, 01:43 PM report to moderator
388 Points

Oh, and Butterbeer has just enough alcohol to make a House elf tipsy. Mead is stronger. It’s really good too. I had a bottle this last weekend with a friend while camping out in the countryside.
But I would say it only played a ‘supporting role’ in the conversation. (heavy sarcasm intended)

Posted by Hydrus on July 29, 2009, 01:46 PM report to moderator
3048 Points

Yes, I will agree that the drinking that the movie featured did seem excessive. However, I believe they incorporated it to reflect the environment in which most teenagers do live. The movie depicted it with the assumption of realism, with portraying with fidelity the lives that students do live. Some may not like what they see, but J.K. Rowling did not idealize the universe in which her characters lived – why should the movies?

Posted by Kirk on July 29, 2009, 01:48 PM report to moderator
49 Points

Has anyone seen anyone at hogwarts drunk?????? Apart from winky….Come on people get a grip

Posted by ginny_potter4ever on July 29, 2009, 01:48 PM report to moderator
433 Points

So Hermione downs a butterbeer, and somehow that means it gave her the courage to put her arm around Ron? I didn’t see it that way at all, especially since they were hanging out at his house all summer. They’ve been best friends for 5 years. You think that’s the first time she threw her arm around him or hugged him during that time? As for Slughorn and Hagrid, I don’t see how the way they acted promoted alcohol use. As a coping mechanism? Sure. However, I think having a couple glasses of mead after your best friend dies doesn’t make you an alcoholic.

Also, why aren’t parents upset that Harry seriously injured Malfoy without any sort of repercussions? In America violence is cool, beer and sex, not so much.

Posted by mollywobble on July 29, 2009, 01:49 PM report to moderator
80450 Points

What a dingbat this writer is… I mean really… Here you have underage children brewing up “Draughts Of Death”, and love potions, and handing out lethal cursed necklaces, and you are worried about BUTTER BEER??? What a dumb ass!!! Oh, BTW would someone please hand me the bottle of Old Ogden’s? Thanx & cheers!

Posted by Won_Two on July 29, 2009, 01:55 PM report to moderator
1749 Points

By the way…butterbeer does have alcohol in it…Ron says so in GOF, but it is a very small amount. I don’t think you would be able to fit enough in your stomach to get tipsy. Hey, I’ve served my kids chicken marsala…am I a bad mom?!!!


Posted by Rin68nyr on July 29, 2009, 02:00 PM report to moderator
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