The Nature of Things: Sexy beer commercials

The Nature of Things: There's more than one kind of SPAM

When you get to be my age, you have to try to ward off the tendency to become cynical about a lot of things. Nobody likes a curmudgeon. Especially when it comes to being judgmental or overly critical of the younger generations. But it isn't like we can't remember some of the stupid fads and crazy antics we indulged in when we were young. In the history of civilized man there has always been an element of rebellion by young people, especially teenagers and young males.

This was true in the days of the Greeks and Romans and has been true even in aboriginal societies where tribal chiefs have not always been able to control their young energetic men. None of this has been an overriding problem because young people eventually grow up and take their place in society where more level heads usually prevail. So what's the problem?

The problem, as I see it, is that too many people in today's society don't ever want to grow up. Maybe I have a distorted view of our modern culture from watching too many beer commercials. Since I am an avid sports fan, I like to watch whatever sports are in season on the tube. And who are the primary sponsors of these athletic contests? The big beer companies, of course. And what is their message? That's easy .... life in the fast lane is one continuous happy beer party. It's also the road to eternal youth.

You have to hand it to the Madison Avenue ad men. They have done a great job on their beer commercials. It was not too many years ago when beer was the quaff of truck drivers and other blue collar workers. In the old Hollywood movies, the social elite all sipped martinis. Only the underclass down by the docks guzzled beer.

My, how things have changed. Nowadays, thanks to the clever beer commercials, if you want to be part of the "in" crowd made up of affluent yuppies and the intellectual elite, you have to go to beer parties. If men want to ogle the most buxom, sexy females on the planet, they don't have to go to a burlesque show ... just go to a beer party.

In the Coors commercials, we see deliriously happy, thinly clad females in their 20's and 30's with their ultra masculine dates diving off cliffs into sparkling pools at the foot of a waterfall to retrieve cans of beer from the depths of an alpine stream high in the Rocky Mountains. This is a very clever mix of pristine scenery and a wet t-shirt contest.

But if you want to see a bunch of really out-of-control drunks at a beer party, just watch a Miller beer commercial. It's almost a pornographic orgy. The message seems to be if you really want to let your hair down, you don't need expensive drugs to get "high". Just have a beer bash. It's sort of a continuation of the hippy culture of the '60s ... "if it feels good, do it." Only now anyone can participate while holding down a responsible job and practicing hygiene.

And don't think these glitzy commercials don't influence our teenagers. It starts in high school where kids can't wait to get their hands on a six-pack as a right of passage to adulthood. Some will say that it's all part of growing up, but the trouble is too many teens don't make it to adulthood. They die in car crashes coming home from a "kegger."

Drinking beer at college has become an extremely bad nationwide problem. Frat parties and binge drinking have gotten so bad at most major universities that administrators have cracked down on campus drinking. So now they have their parties off-campus where the dean has no control.

One of the things that has changed about college student drinking is that the women are just as bad as the men. If anyone has seen the TV coverage at the "spring break" parties on the Florida beaches, you know what I am referring to. After a few beers, the bikini clad coeds lose all their inhibitions along with their bras and put on a show that men would have to pay to see at a topless bar. I guess that is what happens when you mix raging hormones with Miller Lite.

By now you're probably thinking I'm an old killjoy teetotaler. Not so. I have no problem with responsible consumption of reasonable amounts of alcoholic beverages. It's just that I believe these beer commercials have not only removed any and all stigma on drinking, but have managed to portray beer parties as the most fun-loving, socially acceptable activity anyone of any age can indulge in. Never mind the hangovers, highway carnage, spousal abuse, broken marriages and liver damage. It's all about getting "high" in order to enjoy life.

It makes me wonder if there are very many people who still realize that some of us can get "high" by hiking up to those same lofty peaks and admiring the same alpine scenery and pristine waterfalls where the Coors promoters faked in their beer commercial.

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