Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 8:51 pm

You kids get out of my yard … and stop trying to get me to buy you beer.


Tom Scocca gets at something I’d sort of sensed but hadn’t really grasped. Maybe it’s because my parents didn’t make a big deal either way about drinking when I was kid. Maybe it’s because, with the legal drinking age then 18, I could get beer pretty much anytime I wanted it from about 15 on, and its very accessibility rendered its acquisition somewhat less urgent. Ida know. But as a quasi-responsible parent, damn, am I annoyed I didn’t grok this faster:

What are beer commercials about? The two central premises are these:

1. Beer—cheap, common, domestic beer—is a rare commodity that drives men mad with the desire to have it, at any cost.

2. Women are the great obstacle between men and the fulfillment of this desire.

Taken literally, this is baffling. Beer is cheap and easy to find. The only cost should be $6.99 for a six pack, at any convenience store. And rather than hiding from women to drink their beer, many single adult heterosexual men seek out female company when they’re drinking. “Drink our beer and avoid contact with women!”—who could possibly be the target for that pitch?

But it makes perfect sense if the target audience is—and it is—16-year-olds.

The girls aren’t really girls; they’re Mom. And Mom is the first hurdle in the thrilling obstacle course that makes up the world of the teenage beer drinker.

Geez. It’s the tobacco companies all over again. On the bright side, far fewer than one in three people who drink beer are going to die prematurely by using the product as intended, and secondhand beer, although certainly toxic (not to mention odoriferous), is more easily avoided and almost never lethal.

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