Thursday, February 6, 2014

Superbowl Fail: Why we hated the Budweiser commercial

"On Jan. 8th, Lt. Chuck Ladd came home."

I watched the dude ride the escalator down to the waiting lady and I was confused.  She held out her empty arms for a long beat, waiting as he rushed down to swoop her up in a huge hug.  Why was she waiting at the bottom of the escalator?  I've participated in more than one Big Reunion, and couldn't imagine why she'd wait there.  Maybe it was a security thing?  Oh no wait, I got it- someone's taping this.

Someone selling horrible punishment water beer.  Maybe the commercial was going to show how the evil corporation supports our troops by shipping over cases of canned liquid consequences for them to use on the enemy, somehow.  I mean no one would expect the men, women, dogs, and tanks dedicated to protecting freedom to actually drink that stuff, right?  

Well, it got worse.  The commercial turned out to be an entire minute of reunion porn, in which an entire town gets together to throw a big parade and everything just for Lt. Ladd.  Which was beautiful and you bet I choked up.  I'm not made of wood.  And then I saw the red sign with the white letters selling horrible beer.  Wait, maybe there's going to be a message:  Let's have more parades.  Bring everybody else home, too. Something like that.  Nope.

Then the sportsing started up again and one team won and GI Echo drove us home.  I couldn't get that damn commercial out of my head- or the one for Microsoft that showed a soldier participating in the birth of his child via Skype.  There's a lot to be pissed about.  I expected the blogosphere to be peppered with pitchforks and torches, but it actually took a bit of searching to find some.  Here's a wee roundup:

It's offensive.  Don Gomez, called out the ad as offensive and exploitative for using troops to sell beer with no message or call to action.  He suggested that "If you want to do something for the military, do it quietly, without plastering your logo at the end."

Troops and alcohol, really?  Then there's Philip Carter at Foreign Policy, whose article Bad Bud discusses concerns about the legal issues associated with the production of the ad and the complex relationship between servicemembers, alcohol, and PTSD.  

They are using us.  And Rae over at LeftFace had quite a bit to say about the ad as part of a larger trend of exploitation on the part of pretty much everyone, especially politicians and corporations, of military families, which is especially outrageous in the face of recent policies that reduce benefits for veterans and fail to address the growing mental health crisis.  

Unrealistic.   A quick poll of people I actually know revealed little in terms of outrage, but one friend expressed concern that giving people the idea that troops are welcomed by town-wide parades could leave the impression that veterans are regularly given the warmth and appreciation they deserve.  Another said that many soldiers she knows came home to nothing but an empty barracks and not one single person greeting them at the homecoming.  For these folks, some of them teenagers, there was no welcome at all.    

Karen Francis in the Care2makeadifference blog talks about the harm of Reunion porn,
"If you watch our reunions, if you watch our farewells, those thirty second TV stories, with tears in your eyes — remember the other 364 days of the year that we need to work through.  Don’t cry for us, reach out a hand and get to know us."

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