thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

Newcastle Declares “Unattractive” Woman Unfit for Public Viewing, Possibly for Existence

In advertising, Interlude on June 7, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Sarah T.

Watching the Newcastle “Brewer” Ad: An Inner Monologue 

Fade in on a girl who’s just trying to enjoy the latest episode of So You Think You Can Dance on Hulu. 

Oh hello, ad! What are you for? Newcastle Brown Ale, huh? Sure, you’re a pretty good beer. Kind of a nutty flavor. I drank you a lot in college. So we’re doing a little “nostalgic hearkening to our traditional brewing background” type of ad here, are we? I’m down. Shots of hands sifting through barley hops. Soothing wind instruments. Cool cool cool.

You cut off that brewer’s head with a shot of the pipe! Weird. Fine, though, that’s fine.

Mmm caramel malt, that does sound good. But hey, you’re cutting off that brewer’s head again! This is starting to seem like it’s on purpose.

“Why do we focus so much on our brewmaster’s hands?” Yes! You read my mind, Newcastle ad. Why indeed? There’s a clever punchline coming up, I can tell.

“Because she’s not an attractive woman.”

Oh.

Oh, I see.

Because here is what we know about the brewer we’ve seen so far. The brewer wears conservative v-neck sweaters over button-down shirts and big, breezy coats. The brewer wears glasses. The brewer has a bit of a beer belly, which makes sense, because the brewer is a brewer. The brewer’s hands are big and strong, and not young.

All of these traits are meant to make the viewer believe that the brewer is a man, because only men are allowed to dress conservatively and carry extra weight around their stomachs and have strong hands and be older. A woman who does these things, naturally, is a masculine woman. Therefore she must be unattractive, because attractive = young, skinny, scantily clad, and conventionally feminine. Since she is not conventionally feminine, she is unattractive, and since she is unattractive, Newcastle will spare us the very sight of her, which would clearly make our poor innocent eyes start to bleed.

“Newcastle: No Bollocks.”

RIGHT.

No Bollocks. That’s you, alright, Newcastle ad. You call ’em like you see ’em. You’re so brave. You’re brave enough to reinforce casual sexism in advertising under the guise of humor. You’re straight-shooting enough to shame every woman who doesn’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model because she has committed the terrible, unforgivable offense of not being sexually appealing by your narrowly defined standards. You are honest enough to suggest that we should never have to look into the face of a woman you deem unattractive! Perhaps the brewer woman should go live in a cave in the desert, exiled from the rest of society, so that no one need gaze upon her ever again. SLOW. CLAP. FOR. YOUR. COURAGEOUS. PLAIN-SPEAKING. HOGWASH.

End scene. 

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  1. WTF Newcastle! This commercial is SO horrible. I think it is weird/interesting too that the first part of the commercial where the narrator talks about the brewmaster’s hands seems to draw on almost a discourse of domesticity and a gendered sort of tender love and care. So they are mobilizing her gender in weird ways even before the extra offensive moment at the end. Also, she looks older (that shot of grey hair) and so there seems something also problematic about her wisdom which becomes attached to her hands but also disembodied. I am just so blown away by this that I can barely get my thoughts straight.

  2. YES. I’m so glad you mentioned that.

    From the “Terrible Hulu Ads” Department: The ad that made my skin crawl – I literally had to leave the room when this came on ALL. THE. TIME. – was the mother’s day ad that apparently made other people peeved, too. I mean, is it even worth going into why it’s so offensive? http://www.buzzfeed.com/copyranter/woman-are-hating-this-verizon-mothers-day-commerc

    They stopped playing it, apparently, just in time to launch this next version of gender stereotyped idiocy for father’s day and graduation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNat2hMup3o

    Harumph.

  3. Just… gross. No more Newcastle for me!

  4. That is seriously bizarre, particularly since female brewmasters are still quite rare, particularly for a major label, so they possibly could have done something kind of cool (assuming their brewmaster is actually a woman and not just a joke in a commercial). I hope that marketing team is getting what for.

  5. I came across this page by accident and was surprised that I had not met any of you fascinating, morally sound and open-minded young ladies through my listing on unattractiveoldmen4U.uk
    Bollocks.

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