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Friday, July 31, 2009

Ogle's Fresh Take

Despite wishing to avoid the whole Beer Summit thing, I can't help but point to this wonderful article by Maureen Ogle in Sunday's Washington Post (the internets are so fast they now carry future publications). It's the first really novel take on the whole thing. In it, she traces the history of beer and race in America.
Despite the fact that blacks drink about as much beer as whites, to this day the only black-owned brewery in U.S. history was a short-lived enterprise in Wisconsin, launched in 1971 by a former Blatz executive. Otherwise, American brewing, the creation of German immigrants in the 19th century, was and largely remains a white man's world.

Even beer advertising, historically white, white and more white, learned to think black. When Miller Brewing launched Miller Lite in the 1970s, it wanted to convey a manly image (subtext: "lite" beer is not a diet drink). The company created a memorable, and successful, string of TV ads that featured retired professional athletes, many of them black. (Picture NFL star Bubba Smith tearing the top off a can of Lite.)
Whole thing's definitely worth a read. Oh, and here's that ad she references:

10 comments:

nixzusehen said...

I've actually been fascinated to read the discussion of beer choices and stereotypes of beer drinkers. It's been a huge reminder of what a different place we have here compared to the rest of the country.

It's a mixture of feeling bad for all those poor east-coast commentators who clearly wouldn't recognize a good beer if went up and introduced itself and being happy to keep our own little secret up here and let them suffer.

Ralph said...

Yeah, cause I know the first thought that crosses my mind when buying a beer is "If this ain't brewed by a white guy, I ain't buying it!"

Red Herring.

Jeff Alworth said...

Ralph, are you willfully misreading Maureen, or did you bother to read her at all? If neither, then you just flat out misread it. Sometimes an event is a good opportunity to explore the larger context of an issue--something almost all of the MSM failed to do with this incident.

Ralph said...

Jeff, I guess I must have misread what she had to say then, please enlighten me to the thrust of her position.

Just for the record I did not do either of the black or white things you suggested. I did not willfully misread her and I did read the piece. So you are wrong on both counts. You like to think I willfully misread the piece since I didn't come to the same conclusion as you.

You'd think the only commercials ever made by beer companies is to steal money out of black people's pockets and line the pockets of the white brewery owners. And the reason the large brewery owned by a black person failed is because there is some cabal of white people pulling the strings. (There ya go, my take)

I just assume you will either ignore me or tell me that I am purposefully misreading her. Cause you know, my take isn't valid.

Jeff Alworth said...

Ralph, I'm happy to respond. And of course your opinion is valid; your comments about Ogle's article not so much.

Your (over)reactions are comments spun from heat you got elsewhere, not in Ogle's clear, careful history of beer, race, and politics in America. You chafe at an assault Ogle never makes. Re-read your objections to her article, then try to locate them in it. Good luck with that.

When someone uses a point not made in an article to harp on a grievance of their own, that's willful misreading.

Ralph said...

Selective using facts to draw the readers to a conclusion that is never asserted.

"The percentage of blacks in the prison system is greater than is reflected in the general population."

Perfect example.

Jeff Alworth said...

Ralph, you lost me--that sentence isn't in Ogle's article.

Ralph said...

Sorry I lost you. I was trying to point out how one uses facts to draw the readers to an unfounded conclusion.

So let's dissect the article then:

"Like the nation, the brewing industry struggles with racial complexity; like the nation, it still has a ways to go."

The author suggests that something in the brewing industry isn't correct. "a ways to go" suggest something is behind and hasn't reached its pinnacle. So, that sets the tone. With me so far?

Next sentence in the article:

"Despite the fact that blacks drink about as much beer as whites, to this day the only black-owned brewery in U.S. history was a short-lived enterprise in Wisconsin, launched in 1971 by a former Blatz executive."

Hmmm, interesting fact (which was proven incorrect, but beside the point), I wonder how it relates back to the "a ways to go" statement? See how we use words to draw readers to conclusions that aren't stated.

So Jeff, I toss the debate back to you. What was the author of these two sentences trying to suggest? Why does the brewing industry have "a ways to go"?

I'll give you a hint with the next sentence:

Otherwise, American brewing, the creation of German immigrants in the 19th century, was and largely remains a white man's world.

So why is that?

And that is only the first quarter of the article. Shall I go on?

Jeff Alworth said...

Shall I go on?

I think you should--I'd like to hear the whole complaint so we don't keep going in circles.

Ralph said...

I think I've covered the basis of the piece quite well. In two words: veiled assertions.

Please Jeff, help me understand what I obviously missed in the piece. My questions from before stand.

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