Don’t believe me? Just try the simple experiment at the end of this article.
“Until you realize how easy it is for your mind to be manipulated, you remain the puppet of someone else’s game.” ― Evita Ochel
Alcohol and Hollywood seem to go together like a hand in a glove.
The concept of drinking, partying, and maybe doing a few drugs seems to be synonymous with the Hollywood world of glitz and glamour.
You only have to title a movie “Good Times in LA”, and you are automatically thinking of cocaine and wild parties, as opposed to a movie being titled “Good Times in Boise”. I’m sure that popped up a completely different image in your mind, didn’t it?
The reality is that there is a bond between Hollywood and various vices of the world, and we are peddled them almost every day without even realizing it.
This happens daily in two simple ways.
Through all types of ads
Ads are everywhere.
It is impossible to get away from them it appears. Most people hate them when they are overbearing and seemingly integrated into every part of our lives. Some would argue this is one of the reasons Google was so successful with its ad-free search homepage design and Yahoo wasn’t as successful with its ad-riddled homepage.
We have gotten so used to skipping ads these days that whenever there is a show that requires us to watch them, many of us would just opt out of watching the show rather than having to watch the numerous ads that pop up every 10 minutes or so.
With that being said, they are still in many magazines and on live television that we have to watch because there is no other way to get around it.
Even though you may not go to the store every day or be forced to watch ads every day, the reality is that every time you do, there’s a good chance there’s some type of advertisement encouraging you to buy some type of alcoholic beverage.
The world of drinking and celebrity are intertwined, and we see this every day as we are exposed to numerous ads reminding us of such. How often do you see an ad of some new type of tequila or vodka flavor that a celebrity is swearing is different from anything else you may have experienced before.
We would like to think that these ads aren’t affecting us and that we are too strong-willed to see through something so blatant to get us to drink something that we don’t want to drink, but that just isn’t true.
In a survey conducted by clutch.com, they found that 90% of their readers admitted that advertisements influence their decision-making, while also confirming that television was probably the strongest of those mediums at 60%.
In a separate study conducted by Thinkbox.tv, they confirmed that television delivers 71% of the total profit generated by companies through advertising at the greatest ROI.
In other words, it unequivocally works. Why else would companies spend $148.8 billion dollars per year in the U.S. on this?
Much of this takes place in the form of idealized advertising in which our favorite actor, model, or athlete is presenting some idealized version of the world with a specific product, and this makes us think that we can lead a similar life with the purchase of the said product.
We are so influenced by this phenomenon that we don’t realize how subtle it affects our psyche and makes us want to be the person in the ad, and it’s not the advertisement alone that is the determining factor of how we are encouraged to drink every day.
Through movies and shows
While the drinking in advertisements is a bit blatant and hits the viewer over the head to encourage them to buy this liquor or try this low-carb beer, the effect of alcohol in movies and shows is a bit more nuanced and, subsequently, probably has a much greater effect on viewers in the long run.
Alcohol has been depicted in movies for some time now, and alcohol brand placement has nearly doubled over the past twenty years in the most popular movies. And while it is hard to get anyone to admit it, it appears companies are paying Hollywood more than ever to place their brands in movies now.
Dr. James Sargent, a Dartmouth pediatrician who has studied alcohol placement in movies for a long time, says that, from his research, over 80% of movies contain some depiction of alcohol use.
While the tobacco industry was regulated in 1998 to no longer allow product placement and pay for advertising in movies, that is not the case with the alcohol industry, and they have been taking full advantage of it.
There are almost no movies or shows in which the consumption of alcohol is not a regular everyday thing for the characters in a movie. While Hollywood is reluctant or unwilling to share the amount of money they receive for product placement of alcoholic brands in movies, it appears to be a profitable business, as some of the stalwarts of the industry, Heineken, Budweiser, and Miller make up about 33% of those placements.
While it may be a bit challenging to say how much this encourages us to drink as we become adults, there have been studies that show the consistent portrayal of alcohol and smoking in movies has a significant effect on adolescents.
While the chances are very good that you are currently an adult reading this, the question then becomes how much of your drinking desire and subsequent decision to start drinking that has led to your current acceptance of drinking as a “natural” part of your life was imparted on you from a movie 15–20 years ago?
This same impact is subtly being reinforced in many of the movies we watch in which the concept of heavy drinking is often depicted in a very unrealistic manner that should give one pause if one really thinks about it.
Watch how a show such as This is Us will depict one of the families sitting down for dinner, with the mom having a glass of wine and the dad having a beer?
How often does this REALLY happen in households?
Watch how Annalise Keating in How to Get Away With Murder will sit down for a long night of work and will pour herself a glass of wine or scotch to get in the mental zone?
When do drinking and HARD thinking EVER go together?
Also watch how Robert Downey Jr’s version of Sherlock Holmes will go out and drink at a bar for hours, and then be able to recollect himself when the time calls for it, showing rare effects of a hangover or ACTUAL drunkenness that takes place in the real world.
Often movies show all the positive and fun aspects of drinking and downplay or completely ignore the dangerous, negative effects of drinking in the moment or the next day.
These depictions romanticize drinking and make the viewer want to be like the protagonist, not realizing that this is a made-up world and that actually practicing these same habits will not yield the same results for them.
Still skeptical? Try this little test.
The next time you sit down to watch a movie or a series of any kind, see how many times throughout the entire film or show does it show one or all of the main characters (not just a side character or people in the background), drinking during it.
It’s insane to recognize how we are secretly plied every day with this direction and not realize it.
We don’t notice it because it happens so often, but when you really take notice, it can be somewhat disturbing to think we have been exposed to this type of influence for much of our lives and never really recognized it.
Now that we do, however, the question becomes are you going to allow it to continue to do so?