The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Alcoholism in society

By Mark Bauer/reporter

(Part one of a three-part series examining the ramifications of alcohol intemperance.)

The social ills concerning the immoderate consumption of alcohol are nothing new.

But temper that with an ever-increasing Hollywood spotlight, and any celebrity—A-list or otherwise—caught in a run-in with the law is sure to make headlines.

In the first installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, The Curse of the Black Pearl, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) tells Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) that “rum is a vile drink that turns even the most respectable men into complete scoundrels.”

Actor Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic slurs last year during a DUI arrest may be the latest Hollywood testament to Knightley’s in-movie statement.

Gibson was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in July 2006. But it was the reported use of profanity and anti-Semitic rants that caught most of the public’s attention. The Oscar-winning actor and director had previously been under fire during the release of his movie Passion of the Christ when protesters accused both Gibson and the film of being anti-Semitic—claims Gibson adamantly denied.

In an apologetic statement released in regard to his behavior during the DUI, Gibson said, “I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said.”

But that is just one example.

When it comes to celebrities, there is no shortage of samples to choose from to highlight incidents involving alcohol. The list includes actor Lane Garrison, of the television drama Prison Break, who was sentenced to three years and four months in prison for vehicular manslaughter while driving drunk.

The third cast member of Lost to be publicly tied to a DUI, Daniel Dae Kim, was arrested in Honolulu on charges that he was driving under the influence.

Kiefer Sutherland, who plays Jack Bauer on 24, will begin his 18-day jail stint come December for driving with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit. Sutherland was involved in a previous drunken driving case in 2004.

Just earlier this month, the 21-year-old Transformers star Shia LaBeouf, was arrested and charged with trespassing after he refused to leave a pharmaceutical store in Chicago. Reports that LaBeouf was drunk during the confrontation were not substantiated; police did not administer a breathalyzer because he was not driving at the time.

And five years ago, former TCC student and Miss Teen Texas, Julia Anderson, was cast in the media spotlight when she was arrested and convicted of underage, public intoxication. Local news outlets covered the story, and national syndicates such as CNN and Court TV reported on the legal affairs of the 17-year-old teen beauty queen.

The platform that Anderson competed on during the pageant was one that prompted students to pass on alcohol, something she failed to do herself that summer night in 2002.

After the jury found her guilty, a deliberation that Anderson said took only 5 minutes—she forfeited the crown, and the runner-up was to be named the new Miss Teen Texas.

And in 2008, after the six years that have passed since her conviction, Anderson will begin competing in pageants again. But this time with a new message: make good decisions and learn from your mistakes.

Anderson will be working closely with the Learning for Life organization, an group that, according to its Web site, “helps youth develop social and life skills, assists in character and career development and helps youth formulate positive personal values. It prepares youth to make ethical decisions that will help them achieve their full potential.”

Anderson said in an interview she hopes that by using her own experience as an example, she can prevent teens from turning out the way she could have—if she hadn’t decided to make a change.

It was when she was hiding from reporters who caught up with her to get a story that she realized she had to make some sort of life adjustment.

“That’s when I was like, ‘What am I doing with my life? Why am I hiding in a bathroom at age 17?’” she said.

Anderson is enthusiastic when the opportunity to help others arises. And amidst the furor of celebrities acting poorly when it comes to being a role model, Anderson is optimistic that her scrap with the law will help affect teenager’s development.

“I think that sharing my story will help influence younger teens to make better decisions,” she said.

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian