When I tell most people what my plans are for my 21st birthday, the first thing out of their mouth is: “are you serious?” I don’t plan to be with my friends getting wasted, I plan to be with my family. For any other birthday, this wouldn’t be odd. The 21st birthday, however, no longer belongs to the family. It belongs to friends, alcohol, and the bathroom floor.
Movies like The Hangover, Project X, and Superbad have become household names… especially in a college town on a Friday or Saturday night. The newest contender trying to add its name to the list is “21 and Over.” While I was watching the trailer, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a little bit. Albeit the movie looks hilarious, the cultural stereotypes it perpetuates are getting a little old.
The three main characters are a set of best friends. One happens to be turning 21 and has been forbidden to party by his father. The other two boys convince him to disobey his father and celebrate in true, over-exaggerated, Hollywood fashion. During the trailer one of the boys exclaims “As his best friends on Earth, we have a moral obligation to get him drunk as f***.” That statement sums up what upsets me the most about this particular genre of movies. The message these movies are sending is that the most important thing in life is getting wasted, partying, and dodging responsibilities. Rather than creating a culture centered on harvesting the potential within an individual, Hollywood is creating a culture centered on the effect drugs can have. These movies add to the multitude of pressure young adults are already facing in regards to alcohol, drug use, and partying.
As educated consumers and college students, these movies present a difficult challenge. It is one thing to watch the movie, it is another to allow the cultural expectations it perpetuates to dictate how you spend your free time. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with letting loose every once in a while but we don’t have to prioritize partying over everything.