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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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2707 Points

i would think that there is a age limit in the wizarding world as it is in the muggle world. i mean is a drinking age.

Posted by jediofthelost on August 01, 2009, 10:25 PM report to moderator
7239 Points

A good Root Beer has “froth” too….YIKES, people! I agree, that “Parental Guidance” is the rule here…And be sure NOT to buy them any A & W Root Beer…it might provoke them into being raving non-alcoholics!

Posted by Confederate Lady [CL, Rawwrrrr] on August 01, 2009, 11:42 PM report to moderator

Are you freakin’ kidding me? How ridiculous.

I always thought butterbeer was alcoholic, but the percentage was so low that you can’t really get drunk on it.

Posted by ibelieveinnargles on August 02, 2009, 01:22 PM report to moderator
4007 Points


Posted by KC Nox on August 03, 2009, 12:10 AM report to moderator
299 Points

Some people just aren’t happy unless they’re complaining about something. Only the US would make such a big deal about a couple of drinks. They’re noticeable mostly to the keen eye. And if you don’t like what the movie portrays, then don’t bring your child to see it. :P

Posted by Queen Griselda [*Squee!*] on August 03, 2009, 02:41 AM report to moderator
4852 Points

its in the book! if they left out the part with hagrid and slughorn getting drunk….. well, even more people would be angry! also i agree with jain.

Posted by #1 Witch ROAR! on August 03, 2009, 08:53 PM report to moderator
1578 Points

People need to get over themselves. Society has become so uptight and this vocal minority wants to ruin things for everyone else. Drinking is shown in many, many movies…. many of which do not teach good lessons for children that Harry Potter does. I agree with some other comments about how this story takes place in England, where drinking is not so taboo like in the U.S. Also, I can’t believe with death, violence, and some frightening scenes that this parent noticed ohhh they are drinking!!! Puh-lease. Why can’t parents parent and not blame their kids issues on movies, etc???

Posted by Snape's Half-Blood Princess on August 03, 2009, 09:05 PM report to moderator
879 Points

Uhhhh They are soooo stupid! It is not really taboo at all in the magical world it seems!!! They were drinking butterbeer when they were thirteen and now they bring it up It is soooooooooooo stupid!

Posted by readhp1008 on August 06, 2009, 11:03 AM report to moderator
770 Points

Hmmm…this is an interesting point. I get what the woman is saying but I never really thought about the alcohol. I don’t think it’s really that big of deal. In the books butterbeer is only “strong for a house elf” and I never thought of Hermione as “tipsy.” I don’t really associate with her drinking butterbeer as getting drunk. Hagrid passing out from the alcohol had to happen for Harry to talk to Slughorn alone, and if they didn’t have Ron drink something, he would never have been poisoned. I think it was necessary, and only older audiences would really understand the alcohol connection, and by then they’re old enough to be responsible.

Posted by crazyforSeverus on August 11, 2009, 05:36 PM report to moderator
27 Points

strongly repressing urge to roll eyes honestly, people!! Get a freakin’ life!

Posted by missharley on September 15, 2009, 11:15 AM report to moderator
1599 Points

just because its in a movie doesnt mean kids are going to copy it! its not like they were drinking the entire time or passed out often, or showing any signs of hang-overs etc. i mean, really. give kids more credit! some adults seem to think that children have to be sparred every little thing. you know what happens to those children? they get a bigger shock when they realize that the world isnt going to hold their hand though everything! come on, this is HARRY POTTER. not, some sappy teen romance drama that shows kids getting high and drinking and being otherwise un-responsible.i suggest the writer(s) of this column read the novels and (to their presumable great surprise) they will find the main themes of harry potter are bravery, courage, and love.

Posted by Nealie Zealbie on December 08, 2009, 07:12 PM report to moderator
1599 Points

i also the statement warn. bros. put out: "adding that the wizarding world “should not be held to the same standards as the real world.’ " i agree completely. perhaps in the wizarding world the drinking age is different? or perhaps they have no limit at all? maybe wizards are effected differently by alcohol than muggles? or perhaps it has no effect on them whatsoever? i remember reading that harry felt a warming sensation or some sort…perhaps that is the effect butterbeer has on wizards? also of note, fire-whiskey seems to be much stronger than butterbeer and (if im not mistaken) only adults are seen drinking that.

Posted by Nealie Zealbie on December 09, 2009, 11:23 AM report to moderator
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