A good question, asked by New York Times Well blogger Tara Parker-Pope. In scene after scene of the movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, she says, “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.” Parents may be surprised — and not very happy about this message.
Unchaperoned trips to the local pub by Harry and his pals are in the book, but recreated on the big screen, says Parker-Pope, “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 says it is only being faithful to the book, and, anyway, the wizarding world “should not be held to the same standards as the real world.” Hmmm. I thought wizards mixed potions, rather than drank them.
It’s not necessarily reason for parents to ban the movie, say alcohol experts, but an opportunity to talk to their kids about alcohol. Still, it’s a pity that drink — and a girl behaving loosely under the influence — are mixed with fun. I have to take Parker-Pope’s word for it since I have neither read the book nor seen the film.