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How Beer Went Queer

Beer, as everyone knows, was invented so that men can touch and hug and kiss – and sometimes shag – one another.  And not have to talk about it or even remember the next day.  ‘Oh boy, was I drunk last night!’.

Beer was invented in other words to allow men time off being MEN.  While still being manly. Because drinking beer was what guys did, as well as the reward for being guys. No wonder we drank it so much, even if much of it tasted like wee.

In fact, the general nondescript awfulness of beer was part of its oblivious male appeal.

But most of us don’t drink it like that any more. If at all. Beer consumption in the UK has been falling for some time, both at home and in the pub.  Young male drinkers are more inclined to sip ‘girly’ alcopops than beer.  And if they drink beer at all it frequently has to be lah-dee-dah strong imported premium beer in a bottle.  ‘Beer’ is no longer this tasteless, undifferentiated, unreflexive, uniform substance – like ‘regular guys’.

Perhaps this is why beer has become something laughably self-conscious. Painfully straight-acting. Both Fosters and Guinness, representing almost opposite ends of the beer market (Guinness a premium beer and brand, Fosters… not so much), have recently released ‘jokey’ beer ads that talk about the things men used to drink beer so they wouldn’t have to think about.

Both ads are based on the homo-panic of the ‘man code’, those prissy-missy list of ‘manly’ – i.e. fagly – ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ that America produced a few years back as part of its backlash against metrosexuality. So the Fosters ad advises their customers about the etiquette of applying sun tan cream to another male without getting an erection, and the Guinness ad discusses how to hug another male without him feeling your erection.

Both have been accused of being homophobic. I’m not sure that this is what they are exactly. And in fact, calling them homophobic is almost to let them off the hook. ‘Homophobic’ almost sounds reassuringly traditional – and it also suggests that we can assume the sexuality of the men in these ads (who don’t seem so sure about it themselves).

In fact, what’s remarkable and slightly disturbing about these beer ads is that they are very faggy. Both in terms of the straight-acting anxieties they play with and how they look.

Essentially they assume that men in general are so gay these days they need advice on how to butch it up. Girl. Beer ads used to always have three men so that no one would think for a moment they were a couple. But both these ads feature male couples (two male couples in the case of the Fosters ad). And in both ads the male couples are so parodic of masculinity that they appear gay.

The Guinness ad couple are particularly easy to imagine fucking (the little skinny nerdy flannel shirted one, of course, topping the big bald leather guy).

And, deliberately or not, the ironic advice they offer ends up looking way gayer than hugging or budgie-smuggling. The nice Guinness guys embracing with their bums stuck out looks more like an invitation to the scally Fosters couple than anything else.

19 thoughts on “How Beer Went Queer”

  1. I’ve drunk a lot of Guinness and the occasional Foster’s. But no matter how much of either of them I have consumed, I still have not felt the urge to fuck a man. Is there something wrong with me? Am I doing something wrong?

  2. I am not sure if this is the right forum for me to do this and hope you don’t mind Mark S, but for all the writers on this blog, i am now capable of producing literature as an App for iPad and iPhone so any one who has any writings they would like to publish this way please let me know. My email is gperrett@hotmail.com

  3. Stick it in ze BOOT!!! I don’t know if “Jeff” is gay or not, but I’d be more than happy to find out.

    The Vat19 guys sure make great videos!

  4. Here in Oz, beer is about as queer as you can get. Every bar on Oxford St. is full of gay guys swilling beer. To this day the mixed aroma of beer, aftershave and cigarette smoke arouses me completely( all on top of a dance beat of course). That’s probably because I can thank beer for a lot of the sex I’ve had. Btw I drink Heineken.

    The six beer rule was fun, but I think in reality it’s probably about twenty (if your still standing).

  5. I’d comment, but I believe in putting my money where my mouth is . . . beer here.

    I cook with it, I bake with it, and I drink it in copious quantities.

    Gotta go grab another . . .

  6. Paul: Most British lager has tended to be at least as bad as the American variety. Bitter, pale ale and stout/porter used to be the most popular drinks in the UK, but in the 1970s large British breweries started producing their (usually rancid) version of European lagers which proved popular because it’s easier to get bladdered on them as you can drink them faster. Nowadays the lagers are usually much stronger as well: one of the reasons Fosters has gone from being a premium brand to a toilet brand is because it’s so weak.

    There has been a ‘real ale’ resurgence in the UK in recent years, mostly for middle-aged bearded types. Though Guinness, a glutinous porter beer (the barley is burnt black before brewing) is – thanks to one of the most successful and legendary advertising campaigns in history – somehow popular with young people.

  7. Well done. I looked but couldn’t find the original version. But that ad is even queerer with the soundtrack.

    It seems to be trying to associate Moosehead with male bi-curiousness – at the same time, of course, as repudiating it. Talk about a cock tease! I suppose it’s a bit like the game we used to play at my all male boarding school: let’s pretend we’re queer – several times a day every day – to prove we’re not. A game which of course many adult males love play when they’re drunk.

  8. It strikes me that beer ads are a uniquely American invention, since the product was so inferior. European beer was good, so it sold itself.

    I don’t know if you stuck with Mad Men through the second season, but Sterling Cooper is charged with introducing Heineken to the American Market. Don wisely decides to test it in upscale suburbs, and makes sure it’s kept far away from the other beer. His hunch, proved correct, was that women, in particular his wife, would purchase it. Suffice it to say Bets isn’t pleased when she discovers she’s been the target of her husband’s market research.

  9. Alas the original soundtrack, dialogue and voiceover seem to have been replaced by what YouTube commenters describe as ‘gay music’ so it’s difficult to ‘read’ this one properly.

    As it stands, it appears to be one or all of the below:

    a) Moosehead makes you fantasise about men oiling their arses up instead of women
    b) Moosehead will give you and your buddy scary flashbacks to the last time you got drunk together on Moosehead (and if you freeze-frame the vid – as I have – it seems the two guys oiling their arses are the same two drinking beer)
    c) Moosehead is the beer of choice for (somewhat regretful) FTM transsexuals.

  10. Yes, I suspect the mannequins are there partly to convey the ‘irony’ of these ads. But they don’t really make anyone want to dash off down to their local.

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