Alcohol in music videos on the rise
Wed, 20 Jun 2012 9:55a.m.
By Dan Satherley
Almost one in five music videos broadcast on prime time television in New Zealand feature alcohol, a new study has found.
And most worryingly for anti-booze campaigners, they overwhelmingly portray drinking in a positive light.
Researchers from the University of Otago examined 861 music videos broadcast over a two-week period in 2010 (on Juice TV), and compared them to 564 broadcast in 2005 (on Juice, C4 and TV2). They found the proportion of videos which feature alcohol has increased from 15.7 percent to almost 20 percent.
Hip hop and R&B videos are driving the trend – in 2005, only 12 percent of these clips featured alcohol. By 2010, it was 30 percent – almost one in three.
"Those ones were more likely to have the dance scenes, the pool scenes, the party scenes," says Dr Fiona Imlach Gunasekara of the university's Department of Public Health.
Very few of the videos featuring alcohol showed the consequences of excessive consumption – only 2 percent in 2005 and 4 percent in 2010.
"Overall, there was an overwhelmingly positive portrayal of alcohol, associated with sex, with dancing, with being popular, with being around positive people," says Dr Gunasekara.
Alcohol was shown far more often than smoking and drug use, and it was primarily foreign artists doing the drinking, one positive to come from the study.
"It means that maybe the artists from New Zealand are more responsible… NZ On Air funds most of the videos that are shown here, so if there was a policy that NZ On Air-funded videos didn't have any alcohol content, that would be one way to try to get the content down."
Presently there are no standards on the portrayal of alcohol in NZ On Air's funding guidelines, says Dr Gunasekara.
Only 2.4 percent of the videos featured a particular brand of alcohol, suggesting the alcohol industry isn't necessarily behind the trend, but Dr Gunasekara says it's free advertising for the industry regardless.
"Advertising causes people to behave a certain way, it causes people to consume more alcohol – and alcohol consumption in young people is dangerous."
She suggests music videos featuring alcohol could be restricted to late night TV, like advertising is.
One video that caught her eye, but missed being a part of the study because it only came out last year, was 'Hangover' by Taio Cruz and Flo Rida, "which was basically just about having a hangover".
The problem was, according to Dr Gunasekara, the song glorified having a hangover with lyrics like: "I've got a hangover / I've been drinking too much for sure… I got an empty cup, pour me some more / So I can go until I blow up / and I can drink until I throw up / I don't want to ever grow up."
"It's almost a rite of passage that you have a hangover and you get drunk, and that's almost a positive thing," she says.
"That's portrayed in some of these videos; that you get hungover and you want to get drunk, and that's the whole point of the exercise, and that's not really a message we want young people to be getting.
"The culture that we want is responsible drinking, that you just drink to be social and to enjoy drinking with your meal, not to get drunk and to get trashed."
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