While Britain is struggling to accept the drinking problem as a national epidemic, Gordon Brown has ruled out the minimum alcohol price.

According to BBC, some British people consider it an anti-social measure to suggest paying double price for a glass of Guinness beer, a bottle of Jacob’s Creek wine, or a bottle of Smirnoff vodka.

For most of them, drinking is a part of the British tradition and cannot be overtaken by governmental legislation.

Through the years, binge-drinking has gained its place on the social landscape, and Hollywood could not help but follow the pace.

First glimpses of the problem

In the early 20th century, the film industry shied away from even using the term 'alcoholism'.

People love to drink, but they deny drinking is a problem, and so does the cinema.

In movies like "The Cure" (1911) or "What Drink Did" (1909), drinkers aren't the heroes, but the sinners, whose self-failure is their punishment.

Following this perception, alcohol-related films were banned for about fifteen years, but ever since, they have become the box office's best hits.

Boozy-wood revealed

The gradual social realisation over the drinking problem is apparent in cinema during the late 20th and the 21st centuries, but there is one difference: the alcoholic is now the main character.

In "Days Of Wine And Roses" (1962), Joe introduces Kirsten to binge- drinking and it is actually the movie's simplicity that defines alcoholism in Kirsten's line "having a drink made me feel good".

The motive of the addicted man and his girl, who is watching him collapse and is unable to help, is captured in Roman Polanski’s movie "A Day At The Beach" (1970).

Hollywood's alcoholic characters

The alcoholism theme in cinema has grown to be a mature mirror image of the alcoholic persona and reveals more aspects of the problem.

In "Barfly" (1987), Hollywood accompanies the completed portrait of the disgusting, filthy male drinker by adding in the role of an alcoholic woman, as proof that the addiction is not gender-specific.

Wanda asks "What do you do in your life?" and Henry's mind-blowing answer is: "I drink".

The shocking "Sarah T. – Portrait Of A Teenage Alcoholic" (1975) is a TV series which introduces us to a wilder image of alcoholism: Sarah Travis becomes an addict at the tender age of 15.

In "Leaving Las Vegas" (1995), the dying man goes at Las Vegas to drink to death, as he realises the end is close.

Hollywood finally found its way to soberness

In "When A Man Loves A Woman" (1994), the addict is a mother who puts her daughter's life in danger. Before entering a rehab centre, Alice Green tells her daughter: "Mum messed it up baby, but I'm finding my way back."

The movie "16 Years Of Alcohol" (2003) reveals the drama of living in the gulfs of a hard-drinking family and their son's attempt to stop drinking.

Finally, for "Bad Santa" (2003) and "28 days" (2000), the motive remains the same, but they reflect a comedic approach to make us laugh and realise the inevitable downturn of alcoholism at the same time.

The journey of alcoholism in cinema was initially identified with the social realisation. Nowadays, it seems that people close their eyes and watch Hollywood's 'alcoholic movies' as an imaginary world.

Although it is never easy for an addict to admit his addiction, could we assume that the same can happen to a whole nation?


Photo by Andrew Otto
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