The Spectator's Alex Massie has highlighted an ominous article in the New York Times.
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...
Of course, there was much righteous brow-furrowing about it, especially from the doctor who has, quite coincidentally, written a paper about the devilish Harry Potter alcohol problem before. Fancy that.
It's all following the template, natch. Where anti-tobacco leads, anti-alcohol follows at a discreet distance.
Mildly concerned articles like this soon lead to more proscriptive pieces and the 'issue' gains momentum amongst the righteous. Finally, there will be calls for alcohol displayed on screen to be taken into account during classification. It's in the miserablists' guidebook. Rather like this.
Films featuring characters who smoke could soon be handed an automatic 18 rating while showing in Liverpool.
Liverpool Primary Care Trust (PCT) wants young people banned from exposure to smoking actors because of research suggesting they influence children.
Expect a "we don't want to stop kids watching Harry Potter but ..." type announcement from Alcohol Concern's Don Shenker any day soon.