Blog: Is Shakespeare to blame for binge-drinking?

James Wilmore | 27 March 2014

Health campaigners have long bemoaned the fact that many forms of popular culture – films, TV, music – glamourise getting drunk. 

The other issue, for those with concerns about alcohol consumption levels, is that these mediums rarely show the consequences of over-indulging. England's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, was blowing this particular trumpet today, in her annual report

“In popular culture, drinking alcohol to excess is sometimes portrayed as ‘normal behaviour,” the report said. “Drunkenness is also commonly depicted without negative consequences in popular films and is frequently mentioned in contemporary popular music.” 

But it's not just naughty modern-day musicians and film producers, it's an historic issue, according to Prof Davies. 

None other than William Shakespeare was also guilty of such behaviour. “This is not necessarily a problem solely of modern culture: every one of Shakespeare’s plays mentions alcohol, yet there are rather fewer mentions of the negative health consequences of excess consumption,” Davies says in her report. 

A new enemy then for the health lobby? History's most irresponsible playwright: Shakespeare. 


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