Posted by Bob Garfield
AdReview does not claim to be fully evolved. For instance, in our recent holiday trip to the Adriatic coast -- where hordes of young Eastern European women sashayed to and fro in overflowing bikinis and high heels, for crying out loud -- we were reduced to a slackjawed cliché of arrested adolescence. We gawked. We leered. We speculatedWe were a one-man gland.
So it is not out of self-righteousness, but out of genuine astonishment that we castigate, denounce and generally hold up to ridicule a new ad for the Heineken DraughtKeg that is arguably the most sexist beer commercial ever produced.
That may sound like a preposterous charge regarding an industry that has given us nudie pinups, the Swedish Bikini Team and an '80s spot for an Israeli import called Maccabee in which a sultry sabra masturbated a longneck. But this spot from Berlin Cameron United, New York, finds an unprecedented new way to be a gender offender. We shall explain this presently. First, a misogynistic joke:
The perfect woman: a mute nymphomaniac whose father owns a brewery.
We'd argue that this is almost a perfect punch line, at least in the crystalline purity with which it reduces women to sex objects with no redeeming quality save their capacity to keep your mug overflowing. Here's a variation:
The perfect woman: She's yay high with a flat head for you to rest your beer on.
Please note that "yay high" is accompanied by a gesture indicating waist level. Even more degrading, even more pure. Yet neither of those two jokes -- i.e., the gold standards of female objectification -- manages to trivialize the essence of femininity quite as egregiously as Heineken. And why don't they?
Because they don't portray a woman's uterus as a beer keg.
Heineken does. At least, it looks that way to us.
The spot is ostensibly a dramatization of how futuristic the DraughtKeg is as a home beer-dispensing apparatus. That's an odd positioning to begin with, as the underlying technology is about a century old. But put that aside. The premise is "futuristic"; so be it. This is conveyed with a techno jingle titled "Robot Repair" and the animated image of a babelicious cyborg who looks like the issue of C3PO and Gwen Stefani -- a totally hot blonde bot, in other words.
The commercial opens with her strutting mechanically out to a dance floor, Ms. Roboto style, to the pounding techno beat. Then the front of her pleated, futuristic minidress dissolves to reveal her innards. Va va va womb? Nope. We do not see her reproductive organs. This is, after all, the perfect cyberwoman. What we see is a Heineken DraughtKeg.
She then grabs the handy umbilicus and taps a cold one. Then she somehow clones herself into a set of three Android Sisters and robo-bumps and robo-grinds for the delight of her male viewers. Then AdReview hits the pause button, even more slackjawed than in the company of actual flesh-and-blood tarts in Montenegro.
Are we, one wonders, being not only hypocritical but hypercritical here? Are we reacting (excuse the expression) hysterically? Maybe. But we believe that Berlin Cameron United has essentially animated the "perfect woman" joke. Whether intentionally or out of pure animal instinct uncivilized by the most basic notion of respect, they have reduced half the world to a man-servicing beer tap.
That isn't futuristic. It's retrograde. And when women see what Heineken is up to, it won't be a robot that needs to be repaired.