HUMP DAY: THE MEDIA’S PORTRAYAL OF ALCOHOL
Alcohol use in the media is everywhere—advertisements, personal social media pages, music and music videos, sporting event highlights, film, you name it. It is commonplace for beer companies, for instance, to sell their product in such a way that does not portray its negative effects. In fact, beer commercials will create the illusion that nothing can go wrong when people drink alcohol. They will only focus on the positives. Most companies will put together an advertisement portraying beautiful men and women drinking beers in the suburban backyard of an old friend’s house during a lovely summer evening while the children, and most likely a dog or two, run around in the grass. It fills viewers with warm feelings, and forces them to associate alcohol with happiness, family, fun, and nostalgia. And for those who cannot yet drink beer, it makes them want to.
One commercial in particular perfectly encapsulates the misleading, and usually non-sequitur nature of beer commercials.The famous, and well-received Budweiser commercial starts off with a man and his young dog doing work in a horse stable, but when the dog gets stuck in the horse trailer of another man, he is toted off, away from the farm. The scene alternates between the man working with his clydesdales, and hopelessly searching for his friend, and the dog running through different parts of town, lost, confused, and filthy from having to sleep in alleyways and puddles. Eventually, the small dog finds his way back to the farm only to be greeted by an angry wolf. The horses are shown in the barn sensing the danger, and by some miracle, break out of their stables to defend the dog, and escort him back to his owner for a heartwarming reunion. A touching story, yes, but no where in the commercial is there alcohol. The sole purpose of the advertisement is to, yet again, condition viewers to associate the Budweiser brand with positive emotions like happiness, and in this case, courage. The commercial can be watched here:
An article I found on alcohol use and its relationship to media, and social media highlights some interesting statistics about young people who are readily exposed to alcohol. One interesting point covered in the article says that, due to Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat, it is easier than ever for “… people—and even strangers—to find parties, alcohol, and drugs.” People will constantly know where their friends are, and can find out where local parties are by taking less than one minute to check social media. Corporate media plays a large role in encouraging students to drink, and social media provides that outlet for them to have the constant ability to. It is an unfortunate pairing, and allows all too conveniently for young people to become dependent on and addicted to these harmful substances.
The article also provides real numbers regarding the correlation between early exposure of alcohol and drug use in the media, and real world alcohol and drug use later on in life. The numbers are shocking.
Learn more by reading the full article here: https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/recovery-blog/social-media-alcohol/
Researched and written by Peer Educator, Colleen MacBride