Was That a Gay Soldier in That Beer Commercial? (Video)

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Today, the military. Tomorrow, the gameday beer commercials. Michael Jensen of the gay blog After Elton drew our attention to this new Budweiser ad, which hits all the usual signposts—America-lovin’, soldier-celebratin’, barn parties, checked tablecloths, frosty brews—but adds an ambiguous chemistry between the homeward-bound overseas vet and his guy friend. Says Jensen:

So the first person our soldier calls is this other guy. Let’s call him PB for Potential Boyfriend. Clearly the soldier isn’t married or in a serious relationship with the girl we later see him hugging. Otherwise he surely would’ve called her first. So the possibilities are that either that PB is a best friend or … a boyfriend. Hmm, would a soldier coming home really call his best friend before his parents?

If PB is his brother, the brother clearly doesn’t live at home as we see the soldier also call his parents, while PB is driving away from his house to start getting the party ready. And PB sure seems to be much of the focus of the commercial as he prepares for the party. And then who is the first person to greet and hug our soldier? It’s PB of course. And it’s a fairly intense hug.

So is the commercially intentionally gay or not? Well, only Budweiser knows for sure, but if you substituted a woman for PB, it would read pretty much exactly like a heterosexual relationship. And while it’s possible that an ad could inadvertently ready gay, Budweiser has a pretty slick advertising arm so that at least seems somewhat unlikely.

A spirited comment debate thus ensued on After Elton, as well as Bilerico. What do you think? Check out the video below and give us your opinion. I tend to agree with Jensen: Budweiser doesn’t launch an ad without a lot of corporate handwringing, so the ambiguities—and their multiple readings—are likely intentional. But there’s a more important point here.

As we’ve reported before, aside from a couple of outspoken right-wing haters, the country’s shown a fairly rapid move to (finally) extend equal rights to gays and lesbians. Even the hidebound armed services have gotten into the spirit, putting the final nails in Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s coffin. But, frankly, when we can posit even the ambiguous possibility of a gay-soldier relationship as a selling-point for domestic beer in the corporate-sponsored interlude between possessions in a Bears-Packers game, we’ve turned a corner culturally (and economically).

Having said that, though, I’m not sure it’s going to help Budweiser sales with the gays. You’d like to think most people, regardless of their orientation, would opt for a beer that doesn’t taste like chilled Clydesdale sweat.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest