Friday, December 19, 2008

It's a cigarette, people -- and Santa Claus does not exist!

Legend has it that the Curmudgeon is undiplomatic. This notion should be consigned to Trotsky’s historical ash heap, because I’ve waited a full week to write about something that annoyed me tremendously at the time. Now, my heels cooled, I can comment intelligently.

The basics: John Campbell designed a poster to promote NABC’s seasonal tapping party at Flanagan’s Ale House. The poster, which used advertising copy from the 1950’s, showed Santa Claus smoking a cigarette.

John put up bunches of the posters, and then others took most of them down, ostensibly because, “you can’t show Santa Claus smoking a cigarette.”

Among those removing the posters was someone from our wholesaler, who replaced the offending images with a generic event announcement.

Well, thanks at least for that substitution. The problem is that all the imagery is lost.

Another response relayed to me was this: “What if children see it?”

Would that be the children who aren’t legally permitted to drink beer in the first place? Or, are we saying that at some level adults, who by this point should understand Santa as a purely fictional creation, might be offended by the image of a puffing St. Nick?

Are we saying that NABC can display images of as many bikini-clad Swedish beauties as can be crammed onto cardboard, with no effect whatsoever on children and adults as pertains to the larger issue of female self-image? Yet, hasn't this been the mass-market choice of action since the advertising first hatched and began telling lies?

The fact that smoking Santa was also intended as a subtle commentary on Louisville’s smoking ban makes the censorship even more questionable. The poster was carefully calculated in a number of ways. It was designed to make several statements, none of which can be judged by the viewing public if it is tossed in the garbage can.

Listen up, all and sundry.

The Curmudgeon, in both private life and as a businessman, does not take kindly to censorship. It runs counter to everything I’ve advocated throughout my life. Edginess, dissent and creativity (not necessarily in that order) are the fundamental tenets of the craft brew revolution. I’m going to regard this as a one-off miscalculation, and hope that the next time something comes up, we all talk about it first.

It’s better that way.

1 comment:

antzman said...

Maybe you should have used a bikini clad Swedish Santa Claus..... no censorship would have occurred at all!