Wine, Beer and their Idealogies

I think there are interesting comparisons to be had between the ideologies presented in Barthes “Mythologies” and how they are used to associate France and wine and America and beer. In both sets of ideologies they are portrayed as the ultimate drink for refreshment. Again similarly, between ideologies is the image of masculinity tied to it. The connection between drunkenness and inability to hold their liquor is the same in both countries. It’s a consequence of the drinker’s lack of strength. As Barthes says, “an award of good integration is given to whoever is a practicing wine-drinker: knowing how to drink is a national technique which serves to qualify the French-man, to demonstrate at once his performance, his control and his sociability.” This is where the ideology differs slightly from American, we drink to show or highlight our sociability but in the most competitive way possible. If you think of any movie that includes a frat party of any sorts, people are drinking to be social but they are typically competitive and drinking with the point of getting drunk. It’s not considered so much a consequence of drinking but the end game.    But the biggest similarity between the two ideologies is how it is so intertwined with the drinker’s national identity. This is can be seen in the Coors Light commercial from 2016, called “Born in the Rockies.”

Starting off with the question “Where were you born?” immediately insinuates the commercial about nationalism. He asks the viewer to consider how their place has shaped them and made them who they are. This connection seems to mark Beer as the drink of choice for any real patriot. In his essay on Wine and Milk, Barthes says “The mythology of wine can in fact help us to understand the usual ambiguity of our daily life. For it is true that wine is a good and fine substance, but it is no less true that its production is deeply involved in French Capitalism,”. This can also be applied to Beer and American Capitalism. The Coors commercial clears up the ambiguity by making it clear that what shapes you can also shape a great, refreshing beer, but at the end of the day, patriotism set aside it’s about selling beer. I think the point that Barthes is trying to make is that all of the national identity placed on beer and wine, respectively, is to boost sales.

Another point that Barthes makes in Mythologies is that wine “exalts all climates” basically saying that no matter what the occasion is, wine is the appropriate drink of choice. This can also be seen in this Budweiser ad, splashed with the phrase. “Where there’s life…there’s bud.” This ad in itself, speaks volumes to what Barthes is saying.

 

Possibly, unlike France, in American seems to always be marketed to the male gaze, using females or masculinity as a platter on which to serve the capitalistic identity that is ingrained in many Americans. In conclusion, I think that American Ideology on beer is important because of the reasoning behind it’s societal ties. That it “is a part of the society because it provides a basis not only for a morality but also for an environment; it is an ornament in the slightest ceremonials of French daily life.”

Sources:

Barthes, Roland. “Mythologies.” Handout. Critical Concepts: ENG 300. (Professor Michael Johnson.) University of Maine at Farmington.  Feb. 2017. Print

Images: www.taverntrove.com/beerpics/Budweiser-Lager-Beer-Paper-Ads-Anheuser-Busch-inc_16892-1.jpg

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