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Opinion: Acoustic’s new labels are tone deaf

Oct 11

Another day, another couple of outrageously offensive beer labels.

Screenshot of a deleted Facebook post

If your first reaction to that sentence is:

  • “Are you surprised?”
  • “Why do you care about beer labels when there are starving children?”
  • “If you don’t like it, don’t buy their beer!”

… then you might be sexist too.

Don’t like hearing that you might be part of the problem? I don’t like having to say it! But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t (and won’t) call out each and every time I see this happening. Because it will happen again. And again. And again…

Yesterday, it was Acoustic Ales (who deleted the above Facebook post after multiple negative comments and has not confirmed whether or not they still plan to print the labels). Tomorrow, it will be someone else. But let’s focus on this case.

When contacted for comment, Acoustic Ales replied with this statement:

We appreciate the feedback from people and would say it’s a bit disheartening as we, in no way, had any intentions of offending anyone or support sexism of any sort, as some of the feedback would suggest.  

We have used the same artist for years and have always used our label art to depict the utmost positive portrayals of our love for all aspects of art, music, life & craft beer and how they all interact.

This comes at a time when the these types of topics are very much a hot button in the media and in no way should this be taken as a reflection of what we are about as a brewery.

I truly can’t believe that in 2017 we’re still having this conversation, as though there’s some mystery as to what’s sexist or not nowadays. Then again, with Trump’s “grab-em-by-the-pussy” ethos, the sexual harassment and assault allegations against Hollywood exec Harvey Weinstein, and the seemingly never-ending list of other sexists and literal rapists in positions of power, the only surprising thing is how unsurprising it is when this kind of violent behavior gets the go-ahead.

Allow me to elaborate on what I mean by “violent”. Can a beer label physically hurt me? No. But does the cultural acceptance of objectifying women create a society where women are not valued lead to actual physical assault? 100% yes. This is rape culture at its finest, and it has no place anywhere — including the beer industry. Even the Brewers Association thinks so; they updated their Marketing and Advertising Code earlier this year to specifically discourage this type of buffoonery. Even Canada has joined in the condemnation of sexism on labels. Whether or not breweries around the world, craft or otherwise, continue to take this issue lightly remains to be seen.

Not supporting a brewery with sexist or racist imagery is not enough. Ignoring things that offend reasonable people is not enough. Pointing to other breweries who have done the same thing is not enough (and frankly, doesn’t excuse anyone). Saying “it’s just a joke” is ludicrous. Commenting on the quality of their beer is completely beside the point. Identifying women who aren’t offended is absurd. Publicly calling out breweries and owners for their detrimental marketing is the only way to hold them accountable, especially habitual offenders.

I’m so, so tired of having to police this type of behavior. But being unaware of what is or is not damaging is no longer an excuse. If you aren’t actively part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.

Beth Demmon is a San Diego-based food & drink writer who loves craft beer and motorcycles (not necessarily enjoyed together). View her work at bethdemmon.com or follow her on Instagram at @thedelightedbite

Want to write an opinion piece on West Coaster? E-mail ryan@westcoastersd.com.

8 Responses to “Opinion: Acoustic’s new labels are tone deaf”

  1. J

    Oh my god! This same thing happened to me! My wife and I went to buy dog food and the bag had a picture of a dog that was entirely naked and looked better than our dog. Naturally, we were infuriated and decided to spend our precious time composing an article about how uncool that was. Let’s be human and relax a bit. Don’t forget that Acoustic Ales is a local company and calling them out for their label artwork is quite malicious. You are directly interfering with their livelihood and, I assume, you’ve never confronted them in person. I understand that sexism exists and we all need to be aware of it. However, your claims are unfounded. Kindly go away, troll.

    • Joe Mama

      So let me get this straight….because a company is local they shouldnt be held to the same standard as everyone else? How is the piece malicious? The writer was supposed to have confronted people “to their face”?!?! The first word in the piece is OPINION! If Acoustic Ales was SO concerned about people “interfering with their livelihood” then maybe they should have put more thought into what goes on their labels having already had to change it to get the James Brown likeness off once and now THIS.

  2. Ryan

    I think this is a good starting point for discussion on the topic.To outright call them sexist when in many ways they are healthy depictions of the female body, is an extreme case when the reality isn’t quite that clear.

    My follow up questions would be, is it ever allowable to depict a woman to sell a product? And would the same standard be true for men? I hope you so vigorously attack gender identified products are the grocery store, because I really doubt you practice what you preach. I will gladly shake your hand if you are picketing those stores on the regular.

  3. Omar Passons

    This is great. Not being able to see this for the sexist objectification that it is changes nothing. I’m so glad the author wrote this. For a woman in a male dominated industry to write this takes guts. Good on you. There are so many other ways to sell a product, hopefully they go back to the drawing board. With so many great beers to choose from, weeding some out based on lazy, sexist imagery should happen more often.

  4. Dana M

    Seriously, The thing I am offended by is some puffed up pretend journalist telling me I’m sexist or part of the problem because I find these labels cute. I think that they represent our “beach culture” NOT “rape culture.” Have you been to the beach lately? Suns Out Buns Out.
    Yes, there are starving children in the world so find something better to do then look for silly things to find offensive. I’m gonna go out an buy me some of that beer just to annoy you, and yes I am female.

  5. NOT OFFENDED

    This is sad.
    This post should be removed.

  6. Mike Hunt

    So much butthurt… Don’t you have actual rape victims in Europe and Africa to worry about first before you worry about beer labels

  7. Congratulations to Beth Demmon and WestCoaster for absolutely nailing the correct response to this kind of BS sexist beer label. “Buffoonery” is completely right.

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