Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sexism and beer and money all around. And more money.

I held back this link in the hope that there'd be something coherent for me to say amid the jaundice, but alas, this seems increasingly improbable.

It's a reasonable and restrained piece about the "friction that inevitably happens during social change," which also might be referred to as a "revolution of rising expectations."

In either instance, what plagues me is the suspicion that in the "craft" beer business, most of the friction, and the major impetus for these expectations, is mercantile.

Social justice and change? Come now. This is capitalism, son -- and it's immune to introspection. Doesn't Bud Light as "The Perfect Beer for Whatever Happens" prove this point.


Tuesday was one of those days of convergence when the universe seemed to be telling us something. In Baltimore, anger bubbled over from protest to riot following the death of yet another black man at the hands of police. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court listened to a case that could potentially legalize gay marriage across the U.S. For those of us who take solace in frivolities like beer, there was no relief: Anheuser-Busch (AB) dominated the news with an incredibly boneheaded new slogan slapped on Bud Light bottles (AB released bottles with this tagline, not realizing the inadvertent pro-rape sentiment it endorsed, “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night”).

All of these incidents have something in common—they represent the friction that inevitably happens during social change. The disruption comes when the status quo is exposed for what it is. For decades, black Americans have been harassed by city police, but until the ubiquity of cell phones exposed it to white America, the status quo could carry on. In much the same way, for—well, forever—gays and lesbians were forced to live under a different set of rules than straight Americans. Until it began to dawn on us that our friends and relatives were gay, straight Americans never stopped to consider their plight (as recently as 1986, Supreme Court justices could claim with apparent sincerity that they’d never encountered a gay person).

It is a much, much smaller deal, but the beer world is confronting something similar as it makes the transition from a mid-century bro culture to something approaching equity. And while it may be a smaller fight, it nevertheless mirrors the contours of other social changes.

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