It seems that every country has their own version of pinning a moral panic on popular culture. Be it music, video games, or film, the behavior of fictional characters is often linked to that of adolescents. At this year's World Congress of Cardiology in Dubai, researchers will be presenting a link between movies and underage drinking — not from Hollywood, but rather Bollywood.
Bollywood films already have stringent restrictions on the way alcohol can be portrayed, but according to these researchers it isn't enough. The study codified 59 popular Bollywood movies by how much alcohol was consumed in them. Nearly 4,000 adolescents were then asked on how many of these films they had seen, and what their own drinking habits were. While overall, the number of underage drinkers was just 10%, by the time all other variables had been accounted for, the ones that had been exposed to the most movies were 1.49 times as likely to have tried alcohol as the least exposed.
Dr. G.P. Nazar, of Health Related Information Dissemination Against Youth (HIRDAY) said:
"While alcohol advertising is banned in all Indian media and scenes that justify or glorify drinking are not allowed in Bollywood films, there is no dedicated health legislation that prohibits the depiction of alcohol in these films and there is a clear need for an immediate alcohol control policy".
I don't know, it sounds to me more like a case of correlation and causation. While the study claims to account for "demographic variables, social influences and characteristics of child and parenting," one has to wonder if much of this difference isn't just that the teens who have the freedom to watch huge swathes of movies might have the freedom to score some hooch, too. By comparison, a study from the USA states that 50% of eighth graders have tried alcohol at some point in the past, which makes 10% seem positively saintly.