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Pop Culture

Pop Culture

ET Drinking Beer
ET Drinking Beer

It is a highly visual presentation that includes many video clips and examples where audience members are challenged to identify “what message would a 5th grader get about alcohol if they were watching this?” Presentation time is generally 45-60 minutes.

This workshop is normally provided to parent or other adult groups to make them more aware of how pop culture is sending children positive pro-drinking (or pro-drug use) messages. In addition, this workshop is highly useful for youth advocates that are part of a substance abuse prevention program in the community.

Understanding pop culture messages is an important step in preparing students to be community activists. Youth advocates should have a solid understanding of pop culture and the potential negative messages and influences is important if student advocates will be:

  • Teaching peers or younger students about media literacy related issues
  • Teaching peers or parents about Pop Culture Influences.
  • Taking action in the community to remove negative messages about alcohol or drug use that appear as either part of advertising (an alcohol company sponsoring the Little League picnic) or inadvertent messages about alcohol or drug use (a local store selling clothing with marijuana leaves printed on them).
  • Attempting to engage in policy change related to pop culture messages (getting the school to set a policy where alcohol themed clothing cannot be worn to school).
Tom and Jerry
Tom and Jerry

Students who are more aware of pop culture influences are more likely to spot them and think to react to a situation in the community where kids could be getting a “mixed message” about alcohol or another substance. It was a youth advocate who was visiting a local “Funcenter” who noticed and reacted to a kids go cart ride that had a car with “Budweiser” on the fenders and “BUD King of Beers” on the hood.  She brought the issue up to her group – who chose to take on the issue as a project. This resulted in the business agreeing to remove the decals from the car. See Bud Go-Kart Project for more information on this project.

Workshop Learning Goals

Recognize Messages

Have a strong sense of the most common places where pop culture sends pro-drinking or drug use messages (movies, TV, music, sports idols, advertising, etc.).

Open Dialogue

Getting parents to discuss and challenge pro-drinking assumptions contained in advertising, and other media such as TV shows, that their kids are exposed to.

Be Knowledgeable

Be aware of research in the field and how it might illustrate the risks of pop culture influences.  For example, research associating ownership of alcohol themed clothing with alcohol use or strong associations between viewing movies where characters smoke and future smoking behavior.  Understanding how pop culture influences appear to impact kids’ attitudes and behavior is important for when you have to explain to the community why you are challenging what a store is selling or if you are objecting to the movie that is being shown in the local teen center.

Be Aware

Have youth advocates be aware of how youth around the country have attempted to minimize the negative pop culture messages that might be found in their community.  Being aware of what action others have taken is important because it can:

  • Give students confidence to take action
  • Give them ideas of how to proceed in similar situations
  • Inspire them to be part of the solution as well

To request a presentation of Pop Culture Influences on Underage Drinking (or Drug Use) by Dover Youth to Youth go to How to Schedule Us in the Resources section of this web site.

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