Lights, Camera, Alcohol
Updated: Feb 3
Now more than ever, people are binge watching shows and having movie marathons. I know I am guilty of binge-watching shows in a day. But I noticed that in almost every episode of a teen/young adult shows, there are scenes of people consuming alcohol or some type of smoking. What is this portraying to the youth that are watching? In this blog, I want to dive deeper on how media sheds a positive light on alcohol and drugs without showing the possible consequences.
One of my favorite Netflix series shows, Stranger Things, is very guilty of glamorizing smoking. The majority of the main characters have a cigarette in their hand every episode. In fact, when first watching this series, I noticed that there was a lot of smoking and drinking in every episode. In season 2 of “Stranger Things” there was a teen character that was always shown with a cigarette in hand - while driving, at school, working out, and getting ready, etc. It was actually overwhelming to watch.
Why is showing drugs and alcohol in TV shows and movies bad for youth?
Simply put, it encourages youth to partake. According to “Truth Initiative”:
“People with more exposure to tobacco in movies are twice as likely to begin smoking compared with those with less exposure, according to the Surgeon General. In fact, 37 percent of new youth smoking initiation in the U.S. can be attributed to exposure to smoking in movies, according to a meta-analysis of peer-reviewed studies assessing the impact of exposure to tobacco in movies on youth smoking behavior.”
Teen/young adult shows glamorize smoking and drinking by shining a positive light on those actions, but don’t really show the consequences. Many programs show a main character smoking for the first time at a party, or being peer pressured into it, but it doesn’t fully show the aftermath and how it can seriously affect someone’s life. What if they get addicted after their first try? Some episodes show having a hangover after binge drinking, or how a character will cough up a lung after the first puff, but its usually made into a joke where everyone in the scene is laughing and having “fun”.
Television shows are all for entertainment, but they can also influence the viewer for the better or for worse. I encourage you, next time you watch your favorite teen/young adult show or movie, write down how many times a character drinks or smokes. Do you think you’ll be surprised on how many scenes there will be?
Look for future articles where we will share more details and tips on how to talk to your youth about marijuana in a way that they will hear and be receptive to. For tips on how to find science based, non-biased sites to do your own research and how to talk to your teen check out our Newsletter. You can also look at our YouTube Video "5 Lies The Alcohol Industry Wants You To Buy"
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