Posted on June 25th, 2010
On the most recent episode of Current TV’s Infomania, the re-occurring “Modern Lady” segment set its sights on beer commercials and the women who populate them. I know what you’re thinking: surprise, surprise – sexist beer commercials. Go figure. But “Modern Lady” actually points to a interesting trend in the way that beer commercials are promoting their particular sexist worldview. Erin Gibson points out that while older beer commercials focused on women as busty, bikini-clad, beach bunnies, newer commercials are casting women as nagging, narrow-minded, negative Nancys. As she puts it, “women in beer commercials have gone from big-boobied eye-candy to THE ENEMY.”
So why the change? And were the commercials of the past, as Erin asks, “the good old days”?
Well, maybe. But probably not.
While the older ads (boobs!) and the current ads (bitch!) may seem completely different, they’re actually exactly the same. In both instances masculinity and fun are clearly associated with drinking beer – more importantly with drinking the beer that’s being advertised. Being a dude, chillaxing, and having fun with other dudes becomes the highest form of enjoyment, and it’s all dependent on brand loyalty. On the other hand, being a woman goes from being a semi-clad part of that bro-fun to being the obstacle. But in both cases, the message remains exactly the same: you’ve got to drink our beer if you want to be fun, ladies.
This ad strategy relies on the simple underlying principle that there are only two stable definitions for women: the sex-toy or the shrew. If you want to be a sex-toy, crack open a beer and take off that top, sweetie; if you want to be a shrew, then stand in between your man (any man) and his beer. Either way, if you want to be attractive to men, you’ve got to shut up and like whatever beer they tell you to like. The end result is women drinking beer simply to differentiate themselves from the shrews in the commercials – shrews who would never drink beer because they’re terrible and hate all forms of fun. It’s a pretty brilliant strategy unless you actually stop and think about how deplorable it is.
But why is this attitude towards women something we primarily see from the big-league, macro-breweries? Well, there are actually a lot of reasons – some ideological and some practical. To find out more about Beer-vertising, tune in to next time when I’ll look at this phenomenom a little closer.