Red White And Beer
Lately I’ve been feeling very patriotic, especially during commercials. Like, when I see those strongly pro-American Chrysler commercials, the ones where the winner of the Bruce Springsteen Sound-Alike Contest sings about how The Pride Is Back, the ones where Lee Iacocca himself comes striding out and practically challenges the president of Toyota to a knife fight, I get this warm, proud feeling inside, the same kind of feeling I get whenever we hold routine naval maneuvers off the coast of Libya.
But if you want to talk about real patriotism, of course, you have to talk about beer commercials. I would have to say that Miller is the most patriotic brand of beer. I grant you it tastes like rat saliva, but we are not talking about taste here. What we are talking about, according to the commercials, is that Miller is by God an American beer, “born and brewed in the U.S.A.,” and the men who drink it are American men, the kind of men who aren’t afraid to perspire freely and shake a man’s hand. That’s mainly what happens in Miller commercials: Burly American men go around, drenched in perspiration, shaking each other’s hands in a violent and patriotic fashion.
You never find out exactly why these men spend so much time shaking hands. Maybe shaking hands is just their simple straightforward burly masculine American patriotic way of saying to each other: “Floyd, I am truly sorry I drank all that Miller beer last night and went to the bathroom in your glove compartment.” Another possible explanation is that, since there are never any women in the part of America where beer commercials are made, the burly men have become lonesome and desperate for any form of physical contact. I have noticed that sometimes, in addition to shaking hands, they hug each other. Maybe very late at night, after the David Letterman show, there are Miller commercials in which the burly men engage in slow dancing. I don’t know.
I do know that in one beer commercial, I think this is for Miller—although it could be for Budweiser, which is also a very patriotic beer—the burly men build a house. You see them all getting together and pushing up a brand-new wall. Me, I worry some about a house built by men drinking beer. In my experience, you run into trouble when you ask a group of beer-drinking men to perform any task more complex than remembering not to light the filter ends of cigarettes.
For example, in my younger days, whenever anybody in my circle of friends wanted to move, he’d get the rest of us to help, and, as an inducement, he’d buy a couple of cases of beer. This almost always produced unfortunate results, such as the time we were trying to move Dick “The Wretch” Curry from a horrible fourth-floor walk-up apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side to another horrible fourth-floor walkup apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and we hit upon the labor-saving concept of, instead of carrying The Wretch’s possessions manually down the stairs, simply dropping them out the window, down onto the street, where The Wretch was racing around, gathering up the broken pieces of his life and shrieking at us to stop helping him move, his emotions reaching a fever pitch when his bed, which had been swinging wildly from a rope, entered the apartment two floors below his through what had until seconds earlier been a window.
This is the kind of thinking you get, with beer. So I figure what happens, in the beer commercial where the burly men are building the house, is they push the wall up so it’s vertical, and then, after the camera stops filming them, they just keep pushing, and the wall crashes down on the other side, possibly onto somebody’s pickup truck. And then they all shake hands.
But other than that, I’m in favor of the upsurge in retail patriotism, which is lucky for me because the airwaves are saturated with pro-American commercials. Especially popular are commercials in which the newly restored Statue of Liberty—and by the way, I say Lee Iacocca should get some kind of medal for that, or at least be elected president—appears to be endorsing various products, as if she were Mary Lou Retton or somebody. I saw one commercial strongly suggesting that the Statue of Liberty uses Sure brand underarm deodorant.
I have yet to see a patriotic laxative commercial, but I imagine it’s only a matter of time. They’ll show some actors dressed up as hardworking country folk, maybe at a church picnic, smiling at each other and eating pieces of pie. At least one of them will be a black person. The Statue of Liberty will appear in the background. Then you’ll hear a country-style singer singing:
“Folks ‘round here they love this land; They stand by their beliefs; An’ when they git themselves stopped up; They want some quick relief.”
Well, what do you think? Pretty good commercial concept, huh?
Nah, you’re right. They’d never try to pull something like that. They’d put the statue in the foreground.