Myths About Drugs
To analyze myths and stereotypes that encourage drug use, especially alcohol and tobacco.
Youths ages 14 to 18 are concerned about looking and acting mature. On one hand, they question society's norms and expectations; on the other, they wish to fit in by meeting certain expectations. Advertising strategies can exert a powerful influence on youth by suggesting that use of tobacco and alcohol makes people more attractive, popular, or individualistic.
Assign students to read The Meny Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare.
Discuss the character of Sir John Falstaff in the play, and especially, whether by his alcohol habit and personality description he fits the description of a lovable jerk.
Explain the importance of myth and stereotype in establishing roles and norms in society, such as the happy drunkard who is humored by all.
Ask the class for examples of how alcohol users are portrayed in television advertising (examples; team champion, one of the boys, patriot, hearty outdoorsman). Write these examples on the chalkboard. Explain that, by age 18, the typical American youth has been exposed to an estimated 100,000 beer commercials on television. Discuss the possible effects of viewing that many beer commercials.
On the chalkboard, create a list of myths associated with drinking beer in one column, characteristics of the males portrayed in beer commercials in the second column, and character traits of Sir John Falstaff that apply to those myths in the third column.
Have students write a composition on whether Sir John Falstaff fits the characterization of lovable jerk, citing passages from the play to support their conclusions.
The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare; chalkboard.
• Have students read "Myths, Men, and Beer," a study of beer commercials and their link to perceptions of masculinity, drinking and driving, speed, challenge, and consequences of drinking (available from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 607 14 St. NW., Suite 201, Washington, D.C. 20005. (202) 638-5944).
Learning to Live Drug-Free, A Curriculum Model for Prevention, U.S. Department of Education's Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program