Thursday, March 12, 2009

Crisis of Masculinity Blogging: Beverage Edition

I get really annoyed at how beer is portrayed in American society. It's seen as a lower class drink and associated with white trash behavior. Meanwhile, wine is seen as so much more civilized (watching people start eschewing beer for wine as they move up the socioeconomic scale has amused me since college). Bogus studies say that wine is better for the body than beer, when in reality wine drinkers are wealthier and that's why they are healthier. Wine is a wonderful drink, but it's also surrounded by so much bullshit you need hazmat gear to protect yourself.

It's not just rich wine drinkers to blame for beer's bad image. The beer companies themselves promote beer as the drink of "real" men, usually but not always white. Equating beverage with gender only reinforces ideas of beer as a drink women won't like. What's worse, beer commercials tap into the insecurities of men to promote the drink, both creating and riffing upon an already existing crisis of masculinity to sell product.

Sociological Images has a collection of such ads directed by, all of people, the great documentary filmmaker Errol Morris. I didn't know Morris was a masculinity worrier, and maybe he was just doing this for the cash, but he sure knows how to use gender roles to sell beer.

The first ad relies on men for national security, even if that means riding your bike to get your Miller High Life; here is men sacrificing for their country in ways expected of them, even as it may be satirizing those ideas a bit. The second ad though really nails the crisis of masculinity. This poor guy--having to spend time with women. What kind of crazy things will they say next? Thank God you have Miller High Life to protect from the castrating effects of being in the company of women!

These ads, and the others you can watch on the link above, are totally absurd, and do nothing but reinforce ideas about both beer and gender that drive me crazy. If any women (or men) want to have some tasty beers with me sometime, I promise that I won't recoil from the fear of being feminized!