Alex Massie

Burning Issue: Does Hogwarts Have A Drinking Problem?

Text settings
Comments

Lord knows there's almost no idea too dumb to appear in a newspaper, but this recent effort from the New York Times is a cracker:

Does Hogwarts have a drinking problem? As Harry Potter fans crowd movie theaters to catch the latest installment in the blockbuster series, 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...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.

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...

...Warner Brothers, which released the movie, 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." You think? Then again, since Hogwarts is a British boarding school of course it has a drinking problem...

Anyway, could even the Guardian beat this for a pointless hand-wringing exercise?

[Hat-tip: Andrew Stuttaford]

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Comments
Topics in this articleArts Reviewsfilmnewspapers