Teen movies and MLDA 21 have something in common

The silver screen and the current legal drinking age have something in common. A recent European study claims many popular teenage films celebrate dangerous drinking.

The correlation between binge drinking and teen movies was drawn in a European study based on films released between 2004 and 2009. MedPage Today reports,

Across six European countries with different cultural experiences with alcohol, exposure to drinking in movies was associated with binge drinking in adolescents (P<0.001), according to Reiner Hanewinkel, PhD, of the Institute for Therapy and Health Research in Kiel, Germany, and colleagues.

Choose Responsibility recognizes the importance of developing a culture that supports responsible consumption. These films, like MLDA 21, then promote a culture that does not appreciate alcohol and its responsible use.

2 Responses to “Teen movies and MLDA 21 have something in common”

  1. Edwin Bonilla Says:

    I think that the study would have been more accurate if it distinguished between alcohol abuse by a movie’s characters and a responsible drinking character. I sense the study is biased since a conclusion says that young people are more likely to binge drink if they see a person drinking alcohol. Movies shouldn’t have main characters who binge drink because popular culture has a lot of power. In addition, as Choose Responsibility says, creating a culture of alcohol responsibility for young people is important. For me, it’s an important complement with a drinking age at 18. Iceland is a good example to follow, except that the drinking age is too high over there.

  2. Ajax the Great Says:

    Correlation does not equal causation. While it is true that the study did control for several other variables, it was a cross-sectional study that could NOT establish temporal precedence. Reverse causation is also a plausible explanation (i.e. “binge” drinkers are more likely to prefer to watch movies about drinking and partying like Animal House, Van Wilder, Superbad, and the new Project X rather than the other way around). And there is always the possibility of residual confounding. But I must point out even if the relationship is truly causal, it does not follow that censorship is the answer. Better education about both alcohol AND media literacy seems to be a better solution for a country that is supposed to be a free society.

    In the USA and Canada (neither were included in the study), we know that self-reported teen drinking and “binge” drinking (except perhaps for American college students) has significantly declined in the past decade or so in spite of the apparent increase in these types of movies. Ditto for the UK, despite higher “binge” rates than most other countries. In a similar vein, teen pregnancy rates in the USA, though still the highest in the industrialized world, are at a record low despite the fact that TV and movies today by far the raunchiest in history.

    And yes, Iceland’s drinking age is 20, the highest in all of Europe. (Is Iceland really part of Europe?) And interestingly, it was the only country in the study that did NOT see a significant association between movie drinking and real-life “binge” drinking after potential confounders were controlled for. The reasons for this are not clear, but Icelanders apparently had lower rates of “binge” drinking than the other five countries studied regardless of movie exposure. Of course, the pro-21 crowd will probably try to claim that the higher drinking age is the cause of the lower “binge” drinking rates, but that could easily be due to other factors, such as reporting bias.

    In case you were wondering, as a convention I always put the word “binge” in scare quotes when the arbitrary 5/4 definition is used. When I am referring to truly dangerous drinking practices, I leave off the quotation marks.