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Anti-Alcohol Aesop

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"The words "rum" and "death" should mean the same to you. Understand?"
Dr. Livesey, Treasure Island (1988)

It is widely known amongst people that alcohol abuse, especially in the long run, is bad for you. It can lead to lowered inhibitions, impulsive behaviour, poor decision making and even death, to say nothing of the damaging effects (such as loss of brain cells and liver damage) that it can have on the body itself. Naturally, this is something that many works try to teach their viewers about.

The way this Aesop usually goes is that a person is convinced into drinking alcohol, usually after hearing of its benefits, or due to succumbing to peer pressure. It is usually at this point that the negative aspects start to show themselves, and the characters may make a horrific decision which usually convinces them to lay off the drink. A common way in which this is represented is through drunk driving, since that can lead to serious injury or even death. (Best-case scenario, they realize they put their life and others' in serious danger; worst-case scenario, they become a Scare 'Em Straight cautionary tale.) Alternatively, they may become so reliant on alcohol to cope that they begin to neglect their relationships and work, leading to stress and concern among their colleagues and family members.

Usually, the work will end with them getting help, quitting alcohol and becoming a Recovered Addict, although more realistic works may also show the character struggling with cutting alcohol and falling Off the Wagon a couple of times afterward. A more depressing take on the Aesop is if the character downright dies from their alcohol intake, either through a stupid alcohol-inhibited decision or otherwise as a result of the physical damage that alcohol can inflict on the body. The general point of the matter is that alcohol can ruin lives. A more nuanced version of this Aesop is that alcohol is fine as long as it's taken in moderation. As such, if you go overboard with it or use it as a coping mechanism, that's when stuff goes wrong.

Compare A Weighty Aesop, Disease-Prevention Aesop, Missed Meal Aesop, and Sleep Aesop for similar health-related Aesops. Also, see Drugs Are Bad for a general message of drugs being bad for you. See Descent into Addiction for when this comprises an arc. Usually delivered as a Very Special Episode. Can lead to a Special Aesop Victim if someone dies or gets severely injured via alcoholism.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • American Honda Presents DC Comics Supergirl is a Supergirl-starred Public Service Announcement comic mainly to increase seat belt usage, but it also includes a message against drunk driving. Steve Gordon and his little sister are nearly killed by a drunk driver, who becomes aghast when he realizes what he has done.
    Unnamed drunk driver: "Oh, my God. Inside that car...They're just kids...I-it's my fault. I murdered them. And all because of a few drinks... I di-didn't mean to hurt them. I didn't even see them! I was just coming home from an office party..."

    Anime & Manga  
  • In Crayon Shin-chan, there are several episodes where Hiroshi forbids his children from drinking beer, as well as several episodes where Shin and Hima accidentally get drunk from mistaking beer for a soft drink, worrying their parents and suffering headaches the following morning.

    Comic Books 
  • Unkept Promise is a pro-temperance propaganda comic from 1949. It is about the apparent dangers of alcohol, illustrating this with the story of a family man who immediately goes on a hard downward spiral after trying just one glass of booze. He forecloses on his house, loses his job, and repeatedly ends up in the drunk tank. His family falls into poverty, and apparently his hat turns blue. Depressingly, the comic makes use of the False Dichotomy that even one glass of some alcoholic beverage is harmful and is enough to turn you into The Alcoholic.

    Fairy Tales 
  • "Little Master Misery": Misery nags penniless farmer Ivan into going to the tavern to drink his sorrows until Ivan has spent and pawned off what little he had. Then Misery leads Iv├ín to a buried treasury, and expects to begin spending it on alcohol immediately, but Ivan gets rid of Misery to not waste his money on alcohol and become destitute again.

    Fan Works 
  • The climax of the Metamorphosis fanfic The Indescribable Moments Of Our Lives has its protagonist Shin Kurata, when faced with the downward spiral of Saki Yoshida, turn to alcohol to avoid dealing with his thoughts of feeling powerless to prevent it. When confronted with the fact that he is going down the same self-destructive path that she did, and with Saki herself encouraging him to quit, he eventually swears off drinking and by the epilogue, is much happier for it.

    Films — Animated 
  • Pinocchio: In the pleasure island scene, children being allowed to drink is one of the many things that ruins many of the children's lives into a life of slavery as donkeys. Pinocchio tosses his beer away when he rightfully suspects that he may turn into a donkey like Lampwick if he continues drinking it.
  • Dumbo: Dumbo and Timothy Q. Mouse accidentally get drunk when champagne gets dropped into their water bucket. While at first they act chipper and goofy, they eventually start to hallucinate dancing Pink Elephants that scare Dumbo and result in him blacking out.

    Literature 
  • The Shining was conceived as a way of discussing the destructive effects of alcoholism, based on Stephen King's own struggles with it. The book emphasizes that Jack Torrance (who King based heavily on himself) is a good man who became corrupted by drinking, with his relapse during the book's events leaving him vulnerable to the Overlook Hotel's influence. Part of King's mixed feelings towards the 1980 film adaptation stem from how much it downplays this aspect, instead depicting Jack as an abusive husband whose alcoholism is just one component of his toxicity.
  • "Old Bugs" by H. P. Lovecraft tells the story of an old alcoholic to tries to prevent a young man from going down the same path that he did. Lovecraft was well-known to be a teetotaler and apparently wrote the story as an intended warning to a friend who didn't hold the same views.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Boy Meets World: In "If You Can't Be With The One You Love...", Cory decides to take to drinking to cope with his break-up with Topanga. Although he quickly snaps out of it, Shawn is coaxed into trying it and becomes hooked. This leads to an intervention, and he eventually agrees to stop once he lashes out at Angela.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In the episode "Beer Bad", the cursed beer that Buffy and some college boys drink turns them into cavemen.
    • Another episode, "Reptile Boy", has a message about alcohol.
      Buffy: I told one lie, I had one drink.
      Giles: Yes, and you were very nearly devoured by a giant demon snake. The words "let that be a lesson" are a tad redundant at this juncture.
  • In Different Strokes, Willis starts drinking once he enters college. While his family are concerned about his habit, he doesn't see it as a big deal. Until he gets into a car accident that leaves him badly bruised and his friend, who was drunk driving, dead.
  • In one episode of The Facts of Life, Tootie's older brother comes to visit and invites the girls to hang out with his friends who are drinking alcohol. While the others are concerned with his drinking problem, Tootie doesn't see any issues. It's only when they are almost in a car accident while he was intoxicated that Tootie finally realized how bad his drinking is.
  • Family Matters:
    • In "Tips for a Better Life", Eddie joins a fraternity, and has a bout with alcoholism. The episode shows how being an alcoholic affects the whole family by having them be annoyed at his behaviour, ending with his father threatening to kick him out of the house if he continues to drink. At the end of the episode, Eddie learns that he shouldn't drink alcohol until he is old enough to be responsible.
    • In another episode, when Laura and a friend throw a rooftop party, some guys spike the punch and a drunk Urkel, who did not know that the punch contained alcohol, falls off the side of the building. Aunt Rachel has to rescue him while he dangles from a ledge.
  • The Family Ties episode "Say Uncle." Tom Hanks guest stars as the Keaton family's Uncle Ned, who turns out to have developed an extreme alcohol problem. In just his first night at their house, Ned drinks all the beer in the fridge and a pint of liquor, and then he raids the kitchen pantry for anything that might contain any alcohol, including a bottle of vanilla extract and a jar of maraschino cherries. He later shows up drunk to a job interview, and Elyse, Steven, and Alex stage an intervention to try and convince him of his addiction before it's too late.
  • Full House: The episode "Under the Influence" revolves around DJ and Kimmy getting in a fight when the former prevents the latter from driving home from a frat party while drunk. Kimmy accuses DJ of ruining her night, but DJ explains that her mother was killed by a drunk driver several years ago (which set the series in motion) and didn't want Kimmy to meet a similar fate. The two make up after that.
  • Growing Pains has A Very Special Episode where Carol's boyfriend Sandy (played by Matthew Perry) is in a drunk driving accident. Mike (played by Kirk Cameron) later has to tell his sister, who initially doesn't believe him, that Sandy died as a result of his injuries.
  • Hey Dude!: In "Melody's Brother", Melody is forced to cover for her brother when he is shown to have a drinking problem, and she tells him that he needs to stop as their father has such a problem as well and she doesn't want him to turn out like him. He eventually gets the message when he gets into a drunk driving accident a couple of days later.
  • M*A*S*H: Hawkeye, surprised by a large bar tab, does some math and concludes that he's been drinking an awful lot in the Officer's Club, and then notes that it doesn't include his homemade hooch from the still he's assembled in his tent. Winchester tries to assuage him by noting that War Is Hell and even his own drinking has increased slightly during his time in Korea. But Hawk points out that Winchester's got nothing on what he himself has been consuming. He goes on the wagon, saying he'll try to take a week off of booze. He then spends the week driving everyone nuts with his temperance lectures. Until, that is, a very grueling session in the operating room, including trying to put the pin back in a live grenade. When he's done, they all go over to the Officer's Club, where, to everyone's shock, Hawkeye orders a drink.
    Hawkeye: I admit it, alright! I need this drink. (realizes what he just said and gets up) I'll be back when I want it, not when I need it.
  • Saved by the Bell: One episode in particular shows Zack and his friends drinking at a party. The only one who doesn't take part in it is Screech, and that's probably because he's the innocent nerd. He offers to drive his friends home, but Zack being Zack thinks he can pull it off himself. This causes him to damage the car. Despite his desperate lying, his father eventually unravels the truth and punishes him accordingly.
  • On 7th Heaven, Eric's sister Julie is an alcoholic. There are actually a handful of episodes related to her struggle with the bottle, but the one which falls into this is the one where Eric keeps her essentially locked in his house for a weekend to help her get through the worst of the detox symptoms before taking her to rehab the following week. Julie is moody, violent, and cruel as she goes through her withdrawal, and her oldest nephew Matt is particularly left shaken by his interactions with her.

    Video Games 
  • Pinstripe contains a subtle message at first, as Hell's denizens are depicted as addicted to intoxicating sack juice. The ending becomes more blatant about the anti-alcohol Aesop, as Mr. Pinstripe turns out to be a metaphor for alcoholism, and Ted and Bo are revealed to be Dead All Along as a result of Ted driving under the influence.

    Web Animation 
  • In RWBY, Qrow is The Alcoholic who is constantly drinking both on and off the job despite being one of the most elite huntsmen in the world and a member of Ozpin's Benevolent Conspiracy. His alcoholism is largely Played for Laughs right up to the point that Ozpin is forced to reveal Salem's Complete Immortality. After this, he starts Drowning His Sorrows to the point that he needs to be dragged out of the house before the Apathy Grimm can pounce on him. Following this, he gives up alcohol for good in Volume 7 to avoid becoming The Load.
  • The Walten Files: The entire series carries a strong anti-drinking message, as Bunnyfarm reveals that the Bunny Smiles tragedies began due to the Plot Triggering Deaths of Jack Walten's kids, Edd and Molly, when Felix Kranken was driving them home from a school party while drunk and ended up crashing the car. This caused Felix and Jack to fall into depression and their friendship to break apart.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: The Sonic Sez segment in "Hero of the Year" has Scratch and Grounder sharing a single bottle of beer. Tails informs them that alcohol is bad for them, and they collapse on top of each other. Sonic then tells the audience that alcohol is addictive and unhealthy.
  • The Littles covered this in "A Little Drunk", where Henry meets his favourite actor, who turns out to have an alcohol problem. Meanwhile Dinky, in an attempt to imitate him, drinks one of his alcoholic beverages, which leads him to get drunk and steal a remote control car; he ends up putting Grandpa's life in danger and nearly hits him with said car. As this is happening, the actor does a motorcycle stunt while drunk and sets the movie studio on fire, leading to Tom and Lucy having to save him.
  • The Simpsons: Parodied in "A Star is Burns". At a local film festival, Barney Gumble submits an entry entitled "Pukahontas", showing masterful cinematic filmmaking warning of the dangers of alcohol. Where the parody part kicks in is that Barney is The Alcoholic of Springfield (even more so than Homer), and it's a big irony coming from him, of all people. Heck, when he wins the festival, he announces he's going to quit drinking... until they roll up with the massive supply of beer, which he begins to down without hesitation.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: Spoofed in the third short of the episode "Elephant Issues", titled "One Beer". In it, Buster, Plucky, and Hamton immediately get drunk after a single sip of beer, ending with them stealing a cop's car and driving it off a cliff. The show itself admits that the characters are doing this both in an attempt to win an Emmy and to teach kids the message that drinking is uncool.


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