Movies may be encouraging kids to drink, study shows

A new study to be published in JAMA reported that movies
have a strong influence on young people who are beginning
smoking and drinking in ever larger numbers.

An astonishing 70 percent of the films reviewed showed
characters smoking and drinking, researchers told the
press and that included animated films, even those made in
the 60's and 70's.  Alice in Wonderland had a smoking
catapillar, Dumbo got tipsy on wine  and Peter Pan guzzled
a beer.

Modern films watched by children are no better.  I remember
in one of the muppet movies we watched, not only villains
are getting drunk but the hero-muppets also drank.

If you think of it, celebration in films more often than
not, involves a toast - with booze.  Drinks are given as a
way of relaxing after a stressful situation and to relieve
pain. Drunkeness, a sad situation, is often shown on TV as
'cute' or 'humorous'.  And booze is identified with having
fun, being 'cool' or other pleasantry instead of the
dangerous drug it really is. 

When we figure how much time kids spend in front of the
TV, it is a rather scary thought that minds are being bent
just to sell a product, young impressionable minds.

These days, smoking is not so prevailent in films and
mostly the villains are the ones who smoke.  But the
commercials against smoking are lame in my humble opinion.
They are funny with catchy slogans but the next time you
see one, notice if any health risks of smoking are given. I
can tell you in advance - none.  Smoking is pictured as
socially unacceptable - which might even make it more
attractive to a rebellous teenager who often cultivates
obnoxious habits.  Intentional on the part of the
cigarette advertisers?  Or merely a foolish misjudgement of
how to educate young people? 

I once saw an ad by the Health Services showing what all the
ads should show i.e. individuals in the final stages of
C.O.P.D., juxtapositioned with young people smoking.  But
this ad aired at 3 in the morning on a public access
channel. Few if any kids saw it, I'm certain. 

And booze is still going strong in movies.  In most movies
we see, it takes about five minutes or so into the movie,
for the hero or heroine to break out the booze for one
reason or another.  

A media group pointed out that the Internet has several
rather attractive websites selling cigarettes and booze
and the Reuters article emphasized the Internet
involvement. However, the TV and movies would be a more
dangerous threat because Internet information is read and
thus processed with the logical brain. Besides, many young
people are not on the Internet but most young people DO
watch movies and TV.  Movie and TV information is processed
with the right side of the brain and often escapes logical

While we are on the subject, have you ever noticed someone
about to have sex on TV or in the movies, stop to install
a condom?  Seldom if ever.  And most sexual scenes on TV
and the movies are between people who are not married -
many sexual scenes are between a man and a woman on their
first date. 

It definitely is worth pondering what the TV is teaching
your kids and perhaps consider encouraging them in other

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