3 films that portray a misunderstanding of alcoholism, and why

A lot of people don’t really know what it’s like to live with alcoholism, and many Hollywood movies portray substance abuse in an entertaining light. Perhaps this misunderstanding isn’t meant to deceive people or exploit the suffering of those who live with alcoholism, but impressionable people often see movies about characters who drink excessively, thinking that these films make substance abuse seem like a good idea. These popular movies, combined with peer pressure, sadness and loneliness, can lead to a battle with alcoholism that takes years to overcome. Knowing how some movies misrepresent the dangers of alcoholism and helping others understand the truth in these works of fiction can instill the right attitude in moviegoers before they start going down the wrong path.

Glorifying Alcoholism in The Rum Diary

The Rum Diary is a film based on Hunter S. Thompson’s novel of the same name. It stars Johnny Depp as Paul Kemp, the main character of the novel, who goes to Puerto Rico to work as a newspaper reporter. His decision to travel abroad is influenced by his problems in his career; he’s a novelist who hasn’t been able to sell the book he’s been writing. While in Puerto Rico, Kemp meets another reporter named Sala, and the two of them immediately begin indulging in an alcoholic binge, drinking day and night as if there were no consequences to being intoxicated while on the job.

In some ways, this movie shows alcohol in a positive light as well as a negative light, but the misunderstanding it portrays can certainly mislead anyone who hasn’t experienced alcoholism first-hand. Kemp and Sala use alcohol to escape the doldrums of their lives, but they never face the consequences of their substance abuse. In reality, binge-drinking is never glamorous.

Comedy Drinking in Bad Santa

Bad Santa is a comedy starring Billie Bob Thornton as Willie T. Stokes, a criminal who dresses up in a Santa Claus disguise around Christmas to steal from shopping malls. The movie may be very funny, but the way it depicts Stokes’ drinking problem as hopeless is a bad impression to make on audiences. Most people probably just think it’s funny to laugh at the bad-tempered Santa Claus impersonator, but anyone who has dealt with alcoholism will have a hard time laughing at the jokes. No matter how unpleasant the main character of this movie is, his drinking problem shouldn’t be made into a joke or portrayed as hopeless. Everyone can stop drinking if they truly want to turn their lives around.

Alcoholic Heroes in The World’s End

The World’s End is another comedy film about drinking as much alcohol as possible in a single night. The main characters agree to visit as many bars in one night as they can to see who passes out first. During their escapades, they discover that aliens are invading Earth, and they must deal with this crisis while intoxicated. While the movie may be very funny and entertaining, it does a disservice to audiences by taking the serious consequences out of binge drinking. Whenever the characters have to deal with the consequences of their decisions, the result is a funny situation or a gag, but in reality, out-of-control drinking rarely ends happily. The danger is that audiences will be lulled into thinking alcoholism is safe because they see comedians performing on-screen.

If you feel like you can’t control your behavior or you feel ashamed from hiding an alcohol problem from loved ones, seek the help you need right now so that you can return to the happiness you deserve in life.

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