Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jay Z's Budweiser Commercial

Because I've been out of the country for the last few years watching football this Sunday was the first chance that I've had to see Jay Z's breathtakingly cynical ads for Budweiser. I'm not sure when Budweiser dropped George Clooney as the person who does the voiceovers on their commericals, but the hiring of Jay Z is probably the final proof, if proof be needed, that Norman Mailer was right in his unfortunately named but ultimately prophetic essay, The White Negro from 50 years ago. No one is more edgy, urban and hip than Jay Z, or rather, no one was more edgy urban and hip than Jay Z roughly 10 years ago and 10 years is about the lag time for a company like Budweiser to catch up with the culture...I suppose it's a victory of sorts for a pluralistic, melting pot version of America that a white bread boring middle America company like Budweiser feels it's necessary to get Jay Z to promote their brand but I find the Budweiser Jay Z ad depressing for several reasons. 
Firstly and most importantly I don't understand why celebrity actors and singers do advertisements at all. Don't they realize that becoming a pitchman for a product destroys their artistic credibility? Bill Hicks pointed this out in a famous bit (famous among Bill Hicks cultists anyway) about Jay Leno twenty years ago.  George Clooney does not need the money to shill for Budweiser, neither does either Jay, so why do it? Greed? That must be it, right? Greed pure and simple, and greed is not and never has been one of the virtues despite what some people in the GOP would have you believe. 
The second thing to be said is that Budweiser is a very shitty product. America is going through a craft beer revolution and Budweiser is the nemesis of everyone who actually likes the taste of beer. If you drink Budweiser beer (and you are over the age of 15) then clearly you need to be educated about what beer is supposed to taste like. My local gas station here in West Seattle has an amazing assortment of terrific beers from northern California, Oregon, Washington State and Alaska. Any of them are better than the watery bilge pumped out from those vast AB factories in St Louis. We are on this big blue marble for only a few brief moments and life is way too short to spend any of that time downing awful beer. Budweiser consistently scores extremely poorly on Rate Beer and Beer Advocate and this is a fact that Budweiser tries to hide by telling you to drink their product "ice cold" so you can't taste how bad it is. It is a worthless beverage and anyone who shills for it should know this. You are selling crap to America Mr Clooney, Mr Z, and you are working for a company that has done everything in its power to crush the microbrewery and craft beer movement. Budweiser is the enemy of all that is good in this country. When my children are old enough to drink beer I am going to tell them that every time they crack open a can of Bud a Hop Fairy dies. I actually believe this to be the case and if I believe it I think they will believe it too.
So where does this leave us? Well on the one hand I'm glad that Norman Mailer has been proved right, on the other I'm depressed that Jay Z feels that its ok to work for such a horrible company as Anheuser Busch. And if I had a third hand I'd be suspicious that this is exactly what the tobacco companies started to do in the sixties when wealthier white people stopped smoking: you brand your product for minorities and the poor who don't yet have the information that your stuff is bad for them. 
Wednesday Update
Well, that's interesting. I've removed the video above because Budweiser have taken the video down from youtube for reasons best known to themselves. If you want to see this video on youtube now you have to go to the channels of conspiracy theorists who show the video to assert that 1) Jay Z is one of the illumanti or 2) he is one of the lizard people who control the Earth. Going to 2) takes you on an interesting journey into the world of David Icke who insists that the royal  family, George Bush, Barack Obama, The Isle of White County Council, etc. etc. are in fact all lizard aliens who control the world and (my favourite of his ideas) that the moon is hollow because its an alien observation post. I'd love to explore this some more but I can't do that here because it takes away from the serious point I was trying to make about beer...If you didn't get a chance to watch the youtube video and you dont want to add to the hits of conspiracy theorists, I'll just say that it was a fragmented series of black and white images of young hipsters drinking Budweiser while Jay Z pontificated about individualism, America and apple pie. It wasnt anything like this: