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BRIAN JONES: Booze at hockey, booze at the movies, booze on the road

You have to admit, having a bit of alcohol at the theatre will make it easier to sit through some of the trash coming out of Hollywood these days.

Easier, perhaps, but not necessarily more enjoyable. I scan the movie ads regularly, and there are rarely more than one or two movies I’d be willing to pay 50 bucks to see — $50 being the price for two adults, including pop and popcorn.

Oh, add another $25 or $30 for a couple of beers, if you’re so inclined.

The Cineplex people want a liquor licence to serve beer, wine and cider at their theatres in the Avalon Mall. St. John’s city council has approved the proposal.


Up the road in more-cultured Mount Pearl, city council has already given approval to Cineplex’s plan to serve booze at the Mount Pearl Square theatres.

Both facilities need the approval of the Newfoundland Liquor Corp. before they can break out the bottle openers and corkscrews.

Even if they get it, anything starring Jennifer Lopez or Vin Diesel will still be unwatchable.

Does opposing booze at the movies — in the audience, that is, not onscreen — make you a prude? Not necessarily. There are practical considerations. For instance, management will probably bring back the irritating and long-abandoned movie intermission, so the louts can go pee.

More importantly, there is the ethical and possibly even existential question of whether booze has to permeate every aspect of society.

There was a time — wait a second, while I open my geezer phrasebook — when you could go to a hockey game and the ice and boards weren’t plastered with ads and corporate logos, and rock music didn’t blare as soon as a ref’s whistle stopped play.

In those days of innocence, before pro sports became a ridiculous and over-priced spectacle, alcohol was for after the game, not during it.

But we grew up, and now booze is offered and accepted everywhere — arenas, theatres, festivals … Jesus, they’re even drinking wine at church.

Meanwhile, in the province’s breweries and vineyards, managers and shareholders laugh hysterically when told there is pressure on the provincial government to adopt an Alcohol-free Environment Act.

(To clarify, that would entail an environment free of alcohol, not an environment with free alcohol.)

It would be ludicrous, of course. Alcohol is part of our culture. Why, there is almost as much alcohol flowing in Newfoundlanders’ veins as saltwater.

Mind you, the province does have a Smoke-free Environment Act. It’s what stops you from lighting up on the deck of your favourite pub, even though you’re outside and want to use a legal product, be it tobacco or cannabis.

If you’re watching Junior or Juniorette play soccer or baseball, for heaven’s sake don’t light a cigarette — St. John’s has a bylaw that makes it illegal to smoke at playgrounds or sports fields.

Yes, even though you’re outside and anyone who loathes secondhand smoke can easily move up-breeze of you.

We’re getting a whiff of hypocrisy. We’re also getting a lesson in how deeply entrenched alcohol use and alcohol acceptance is in society.

You can’t smoke a cigarette on an outdoor deck at a pub.

Never mind that guy whining about the “nanny state.” He’s drunk.

But you’ll likely soon be able to drink a bottle or two of beer or glass or two of wine at a movie.

Never mind that guy whining about the “nanny state.” He’s drunk.

He is on the right track, however, in that an obvious double standard is on display, which accepts alcohol while abhorring tobacco.

The justifications are as predictable as they are wrong.

“But tobacco kills people.”

Alcohol doesn’t? Buddy, don’t even go there.

“Drinking doesn’t bother other people around you.”

Sure, tell that to anyone who has had to sit near a lout at a hockey game.

Excuse me. I just got an email. “Hockey crowds have plenty of louts, sober or otherwise.”

I stand corrected.

It took decades for the police, the courts and society to take the dangers and the carnage of drunk drivers seriously. Why? Because of the widespread acceptance and approval of alcohol use. “Alcohol abuse” is a relatively recent term.

City council seems sure louts won’t ruin your night at the movies. But council doesn’t trust a smoking soccer mom to stand far enough away from others.

The hypocrisy is as foul as flat beer.

Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at


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