I was lucky enough to take a friend of mine’s kids out to see The Lorax recently. As we were walking to the theater I noticed a poster for the new movie Project X with a teenager passed out on a lawn, bottles scattered around his body. I asked my friend’s twelve year old if she would do me a favor – “Please promise me you will not watch that movie.” “No!” she exclaimed. “Please don’t make me promise that. I already saw The Hangover and Project X looks so funny.”
I was not surprised by the differences in our reaction to the Project X preview. I watch the preview and see teenagers destroying their parents’ houses, cars, and neighborhoods in their quest to be seen as the “popular kids” for one night. A twelve year old watches the preview and sees an awesome party, with teenagers having the night of their lives. The dangers are not as evident to a generation that believes there are no lasting consequences for their actions.
Other films have come out over the years with a similar goal. I realized after speaking to my friend’s twelve year old that I was only eleven when the movie Can’t Hardly Wait came out showing a group of high school students partying one last time after graduation. I remember the actors dancing, crowd surfing, and making fun of the popular kid. The fact is that alcohol does not make you more popular; and even if it were to work for one night, is that one night worth all the potential damage that could take place?
During the first stages of the script for Animal House it was written about high school, however one of the producers decided the content was too scandalous for high school, and they should change the story to a college setting to make it more acceptable for movie goers. When did that change? When did it become acceptable or entertaining to watch high school students get drunk, wreck property, and host parties with 500-1,000 people in their houses while their parents were out of town?
Looking at the headlines regarding underage drinking parties in the Houston area, there is an obvious problem with the way our community and our youth are responding to this movie. We need to take it seriously because students are responding seriously to this content. Rather than allow another fatality or another destroyed property, can we finally recognize what underage drinking is bringing our community – failed potential due to underage abuse, vandalized communities, and violent crimes for which we all pay a very serious price. When will we finally take these problems seriously?
How many more movies have to come out glorifying this issue before we finally recognize what the problem is – youth have practically unlimited access to alcohol, adults are willing to purchase or provide alcohol for these parties, and the drinking that occurs at these parties is dangerous to the drinkers themselves and to our community. We need to take action on social host accountability and other environmental strategies to reduce access to our youth and prevent these crimes.
If you are interested in being a part of this discussion join us for our Social Host Accountability Town Hall on March 22nd. If you have any questions contact the Circles of San Antonio (COSA) at 210-225-4741 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the work our coalition is doing to reduce underage drinking in your community check out our Facebook page or follow our Twitter account @circlesofsa.