A tribute to Drunkenness…

Posted 8/1/12 by Paul

You don’t have to look very far to see the glorification of drunken behavior. Whether it is on your Facebook timeline, the celebrity rags or even in our peer group, there is a subtle acceptance of drunken tomfoolery. It is seen as cool, edgy and desirable. It is just how it goes.

Every celebrity who nurtures their “demons” is simultaneously presented as troubled, yet hip. It is actually career-enhancing in the show is world. Charlie Sheen is celebrated, Mickey Rourke is adored and Lindsay Lohan owes her infamy to chemical abuse. There are countless others who have made their legends based on abusing their bodies and minds. Somehow we identify more with people who are just as messed up as the rest of us, identifying with their tortured psyches and the desire to disappear into an alcohol-fuelled haze.

Most of us have been there. When you are drunk, problems just seem to disappear, worries take on a new perspective and the mindlessly inane becomes the hilariously funny. You either feel more sociable or grow more comfortable being anti-social. You accept yourself better, you accept others, you accept life. That’s how I feel when I’m drunk and, while it is rare these days, it can be a pretty awesome experience to enjoy not thinking.

There are people who have different experiences, of course. They drink to forget or drink to unleash their anger in an inevitable bar fight. Deep down, though, most people drink because it helps them connect. Either they connect with themselves or connect to others. It seems to allow people to just be comfortable around others. Whether that involves hugging random strangers, dancing around like a moron or saying what you’re usually uncomfortable to say, it certainly has its place. It is not an ideal remedy, but it is a socially accepted one.

Drink can bond people. I’ve lost count of the number of brilliant conversations (at least, that is how I perceived them) I’ve had over a night of beers and, to a lesser degree, shots. There is a casual binge drinking culture now. You have to go some to be considered a real problem drinker, and you’ll usually be considered an office hero if you drank yourself unconscious the night before. Drunken stupidity is comedy cubed. Maybe this is because of the culture or maybe it is a byproduct of the recession.

Really, though, it is probably the way drunken celebrities are portrayed. If I went into my workplace, coked out of my mind, tanked up on whiskey, and yapping about the Martians, I would be forcibly ejected from the premises, immediately fired and possibly incarcerated. Yet Charlie Sheen gets a new TV show, millions of dollars and endless hero worship. The experts pretend to be disgusted by this behavior, but the media presentation suggests anything but revulsion. It’s awe.

Alcohol is a type of poison and a lot of people treat it the way the media treat drunken celebrities. They pretend to be ashamed of it, but are secretly proud. Think about it: nobody really posts about the things they are really ashamed of, like membership to the Star Trek fan club or hitting on the neighbor’s cat (just for instance). So, you see a lot of Facebook updates like “omg! I was SOO drunk last night. Absolute disgrace!” or “how am I still alive last night after all that vodka?!111”

Maybe this is more of a British phenomenon or a just quirk of Facebook, where people tend to portray themselves how they want to be perceived. Perhaps it’s an age thing, as younger people often try to earn their stripes by drinking insane amounts of alcohol. You’re seen as something of a hero in some circles if you get absolutely wasted and live to tell the tale.

I used to be enormously proud of the amount of booze I could throw back and how I could make it to college on two hours sleep. Hardcore! It is just us normal folk who measure success by consumption. Frequently, there are stories with some witness or hanger-on waxing lyrical about the chemical abuse of rock stars, and about the nuts who “drank enough and did enough pills every night to kill three elephants, man!”

It is absurd when you REALLY think about it.

While all this sounds nice and rebellious, where are the medals? I certainly didn’t get one. I don’t believe, but I could be wrong, that they gave medals to survivors of drunken nights out. In time, that could change. These days, I’m more proud of the amount of money I save by being a relative lightweight.

The drunken pictures are the best bit. Somehow these pictures end up on Facebook, as though it is another important memento. Everything looks different when you’re drunk and so bad ideas are twisted into brilliant moments of inspiration. You fancy the pictures will capture your handsome side. In truth, they just capture your saucer eyes. And the traffic cone you put on our head? A moment of undoubted comedic genius at the time. Not so much in hindsight.

In short, there is nothing wrong with drinking. It is usually fun, as long as you don’t wet yourself or end up in swimming in your own vomit. People can do as they please with their own money and time, obviously. I would like to think I will have alcohol-induced nights out, putting the world to rights, with my sons. It feels like a rites of passage and there will be others. I just don’t know why boozing is glorified to the extent it is or why people need to litter their Facebook timelines with their “shame.” It doesn’t take any special talent to drink copious amounts of brain-altering chemicals. But maybe we are just running out of things to say.

I’ll drink to that.

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