Talking rabbits who are always late, Mad Hatter tea parties, a grinning cat: enter the fantasy world of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll’s classic book of childhood imagination.
Since Alice was published in 1865, readers and critics have wondered about the author’s own state of mind when he created this “other” world in literature. So here’s the question:
Was Lewis Carroll high when he wrote his most famous books?
Alice’s adventures do sound out of the ordinary—and Tim Burton’s extreme take on the book in his new movie is getting people talking. But no evidence exists that supports the idea that Carroll wrote this story under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In fact, Carroll invented most of the Alice stories during a boat trip with a friend and the real Alice and her sisters before he ever put her adventures down on paper. He recited the story aloud as the others on the boating party rowed.
So, where did this idea come from?
Psychiatrists who introduced LSD into our society may have had a hand in starting this rumor—or at least the supporters of the 1960’s LSD subculture did. But in fact, LSD didn’t even exist when Alice in Wonderland was written! Besides, Lewis Carroll’s writing is much too imaginative and clever to be done by someone on drugs. He was an inventive man, fascinated by mathematics, puzzles, wordplay and games, some of which appear in his books.
“‘Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice. That is what the story of Alice in Wonderland invites us to be. Tim Burton explained it this way in a recent interview, “The reason we did something with it is that it’s captured the imagination of people for a very long time. That’s why all those great stories stay around because they tap into the things that people probably aren’t even aware of on a conscious level.”
Read Alice again, if you’ve already done so as a kid or see the new movie. Just remember to keep a clear mind to get the most you can out of the experience. Lewis Carroll and Tim Burton sure did.
If you were the producer of a crime show on TV, and your police officer character was a chain smoker, how would you write the scene where he chases a criminal down the street? A chain smoker would probably be winded, because of less lung room. So you’d show him panting and out of breath. As noted in NIDA’s Drugs: Shatter the Myths booklet, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use are often depicted in popular entertainment and media. And because TV and movies can influence what people think and believe, the Entertainment Industries Council, Inc., the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and FX have teamed up to host the 15th Annual PRISM Awards. This nationally televised awards show recognizes actors, movies, music, media, and TV shows that “accurately depict and bring attention to substance abuse and mental health issues, including prevention, treatment, and recovery.”
The PRISM Awards recognize people in the creative world who “tell it like it is,” showing the reality of important health issues and increasing awareness. Winners are chosen based on entertainment value, accessibility of the message about substance abuse or mental health issues, and scientific accuracy.
So who’s doing a good job of depicting substance abuse and mental health issues? This year’s PRISM nominees include the movie Iron Man 2 and the prime-time television series, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Drop Dead Diva, The Vampire Diaries, and Degrassi: The Next Generation. Nominees also include reality shows and documentaries such as Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, Intervention, MTV’s If you Really Knew Me, and VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.
So, mark your calendar: the 15th Annual PRISM Awards will take place on April 28, 2011. To read more about the PRISM awards and to see a complete list of this year’s nominees, visit http://www.prismawards.com.
Many of the movies teens like the most have this in common: A group of young people go to parties, binge drink, get in trouble, or narrowly escape—all in the name of comedy. Hugely successful movies like the American Pie series, 2007’s Superbad, and the recent Project X all follow this formula.
And it’s not just “party movies” that highlight teen drinking. Even Harry Potter is not immune to controversy when it comes to alcohol.
Many different factors may influence teens’ decisions to drink alcohol—like whether their friends do—but a recent study found that watching a lot of movies that feature alcohol actually doubles the chances that young teens will start drinking and increases the chances that they will move on to binge drinking as well.
On Screen vs. Reality
Most movies centered around teen partying and drinking glamorize the party scene, making it seem like the craziest, most epic stuff will happen. On screen, it becomes a memorable adventure from which you return home safely with the story of a lifetime.
Real life is different. Underage drinking, and especially binge drinking, is not glamorous or funny. It’s about doing something stupid and embarrassing yourself in front of your friends. It’s about throwing up in someone’s car on the way home and having a massive hangover the next morning. Even worse, it’s about getting alcohol poisoning and making dangerous decisions like driving drunk.
Alcohol Featured on Purpose
Teens should always be aware of why certain things may be happening on TV or in the movies and become “media-savvy.”
The next time you see alcohol on screen, ask yourself why the movie makers put it there. Are they trying to make you laugh? Does the situation make it seem “cool” and like “everybody’s doing it”?
Does seeing actors drinking alcohol on screen make you more likely to try it? Do you feel the same way if one of the characters smokes cigarettes?
Learn some of the things you should think about when you watch TV or movies.
Sometimes, the best entertainment takes you to an alternate world and helps you forget about your stresses for a while. Other TV shows and movies succeed because they are so true to life that you feel like the characters could be living next door.
Each year, the Voice Awards honor films and television shows that accurately portray behavioral health issues, including drug and alcohol abuse, trauma, suicide, and other mental health problems.
You can read full descriptions of the movies and TV shows—such as “Glee” and “Parenthood”—that were honored in 2012.
Accuracy Is Essential
Why is this recognition important? Many people (teens and kids especially) watch what’s onscreen and believe it to be accurate. This can lead to problems, like if a teen watches a party movie and starts to believe that everyone their age is getting wasted on Friday nights.
When shows reinforce myths about drug abuse or mental health problems, they can hurt already vulnerable people in our society. Examples include implying that all people with mental illness are dangerous, or that people who have drug problems are “bad”—inviting our judgment instead of our compassion.
So the Voice Awards honor TV shows and movies that work to tell the real story. For instance, “Parenthood” portrayed the complications caused by alcoholism, as well as how the disease affects the entire family. In the episode Forced Family Fun, the main character’s ex-husband talks to his therapist in rehab about how his addiction harmed his relationship with his children and how much he regrets his past his actions.
If you’ve seen a TV or film production released after April 15, 2012 that you think offers a respectful and accurate portrayal of people with substance use or mental health disorders, you can nominate it for a 2013 Voice Award. Let us know in comments which movies or shows you think deserve recognition!