Harry Potter and the Overreactions To His "Alcohol" Consumption

Posted at 8:00 AM Jul 30, 2009

By Andrea Grimes

"Does Hogwarts have a drinking problem?"

Uh, did Snape kill Dumbledore out of malice?

The fact that anyone's panties are in wads over the supposed alcohol consumption in Harry Potter is ridiculous, if not surprising. Lord knows that with global warming, nuclear war and the rising cost of celery, parents don't have enough to worry about. Thank goodness the New York Times has the scoop on boozy HP:

Love potions and adolescent yearnings are central to the evolving story line, and Harry, Ron and Hermione enjoy new freedoms as 16-year-old students at the mythical boarding school Hogwarts, including unchaperoned trips to a pub in the nearby town of Hogsmeade. But recreated on the big screen, the images of teenage drinking are jarring. Previous Harry Potter movies have shown drinking, but this one takes it to a new level.
Sure, I've often wondered about the proof of Butterbeer. And sure, I've pondered just how much firewhisky it might take to get Cedric Diggory--corpse or living--in bed. But when I was taking in the lovely sixth installment of the Harry Potter film series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I was not taken aback--which is to say, I was not "jarred"--by the teenage drinking. And I can't imagine anyone else but the Times'  Tara Parker-Pope was much bothered, neither. Unfortunately, she's the one with the byline:

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.
Read: "I decided to go out and interview some people I could find who felt the same way as me. This is what we call a story." And wouldn't you know it:

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.
If your entire universe was being threatened by the Hitler equivalent of the wizarding world, I think the least you could expect folks to do would be down a shot or two. But these moms are complaining that Hagrid drinks--a theme that's been ongoing throughout the books--and that Hermione seems buzzed from a Butterbeer. Their evidence? She smiles after she drinks one. I guess Parker-Pope has never seen a 7-year-old with a Capri Sun.

And lo! Some people disagree with Parker-Pope:

Other parents were less concerned. Daniel Isaacs, a New York advertising copywriter, said his 9-year-old daughter didn't notice the drinking scenes. "The Harry Potter universe is not our own," he said. "Trying to put 2009 American norms into play seems kind of silly."
Why, I do believe what we have here is what we Muggles call a "non-issue." But hey, why not dedicate 1,000 words to unnecessary, pseudo-provocative hand-wringing, anyway?


Ming Lu said:

Come on, cut Ms. Parker-Pope some slack. Not every published article is a Pulitzer-winning piece of art.

I actually found the original article quite balanced and informative. Especially considering the American context and audience to which the article is written to. Sure the author does come forward with her personal opinion but I don't think that her opinion clouds the article at all.

Having a blockbuster promote underage drinking could sparkle some debate amongst people, who want to push an agenda but at the end of the day, you're correct in calling it a non-issue. However why write a 300-word rant on the non-issue then?

Daniel said:

It's funny, considering HP is set in, well, England. Where it's perfectly legal at 16 to go to the pub.

Europe and America just treat drinking entirely differently from each other. America says that alcohol is a drug, and so any form of it is potentially abused. Europe differentiates between beer and vodka, and seems to better recognize the cultural role it plays in human communities. It still gets abused, but that's seen as the responsibility of the abuser, not the drink itself.

But you'll always get this kind of response somewhere. It's just a bit disappointing that it wasn't limited to puritan websites, but on the NYT.

Stick said:

I just assumed that butterbeer was like rootbeer or birchbeer. (With maybe some alcohol.)

It's not like Hermione got plastered and striped. She just overreacted a bit. (Something you could even attribute to teenage awkwardness.)

ryogasasaki said:

i actually have debates with friends won dering what butterbeer is made of

Therese said:

www.heartlessdoll.com, how od you do it?

live blackjack said:

According to me all part of Harry Potter is good and all have different story. I think this part is very awesome and I'm very excited about at which year movie of this part is release.The title is something look like funny.

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