On Alcohol

Alcoholism has reached epidemic levels. Weekend traditions of binge drinking convert British streets into rivers of vomit, carrying an occasional tooth or ten downstream. All the medics and police officers can do is watch from afar and collect the lightweights that, after just a dozen Jagerbobmbs, look like plucked and boiled chickens.

In South Korea, which is one of the drunkest countries in the world, commercials for Soju depict the very cheap and very popular drink as a panacea. A potion that turns ugly girls into sex kittens, takes away the worries of the day, and allows you to finally enjoy your life. Names like Comfort, Like First Time, Pure Dew, and hot female celebrities as spokespeople cement the cultural appropriation of alcohol into Korean culture.

I recently watched an episode of a TV show that follows around police patrols on duty in Lithuania. One particular segment got me thinking about the concept of alcohol as the drug of tradition. Police officers approached a parked vehicle with a small group of men in their mid-twenties. They were steaming drunk. Blitzed. The officers decided to search one passenger that seemed “exceptionally happy.” During the search the officer let out a sigh– he suddenly grasped the seriousness of the situation– and he said slowly and in a condescending manner, “That’s weed.” The man was immediately bent over by force and handcuffed. The audience saw a small plastic bag with the tiniest bit of weed imagineable.

“It seems that the happiness has gone and the smile is wiped from his face,” the voicover playfully remarked. Yes, being drunk was fine, but having a small amount of weed was apparently complete idiocy. The officer asked, “So, which is better, weed or booze?” The man murmured, “Booze.” The officer smirked, “So now you’ll learn!” It’s a moral precept, then. Almost an Aesopian fable.


Solveiga Žibaitė
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