Spoiler Alert: You Might Be A Dick

I am a slow TV watcher. I have only binge-watched the entirety of a TV show once (All five seasons of The Wire in eight days) and crammed in a single season over a weekend a handful of times. I understand that in this day and age, that doesn’t really fly. Every TV show is available to be watched practically instantly all of the time. But I’m not always up-to-date on what’s happening on a TV or Netflix show until a few days or even weeks after it airs. Yes, even Game of Thrones.

So, naturally, I get a lot of stuff spoiled for me. Sometimes it’s because I haven’t watched the latest episode of a show by 9AM the next morning. Other times it’s because I haven’t even starting watching the show that’s four seasons deep. But being a person that has to leave his house for work and interacts with a number of people throughout a normal day, I can’t avoid spoilers.

Because now, not only can we instantly watch a show, we instantly need to talk about it. I’ve started to wonder if I watch a show because I’m worried I won’t have anything to contribute to the conversation at my next dinner party. Do I really want to watch the fifth season of House of Cards? It doesn’t feel like I do.

The problem is if I don’t watch any show within a week or two of its release, there’s about a 75% chance I’m going to have a major plot point spoiled for me. That’s because people don’t want to talk about how great a show is, they want to talk about the few crazy, unexpected moments that happened during a season. For example, I bet you might not immediately recognize the name Gregor Clegane, but you do know what I’m talking about when I say “Red Wedding.” Even though those are both references to Game of Thrones, you’ve likely either seen that appropriately-titled episode or overheard some loudmouth drunkenly gushing about it at a bar. (I should know, because I’ve been that loudmouth.)

Is it unreasonable to ask people to never talk about shows and movies they like in public? Yes. But I have a harder time with people who seem to almost want to spoil a show for you. It’s as if their enthusiasm for the piece of entertainment they just watched needs to be expressed immediately or no one will be able to ever watch that thing again. These people either don’t care or aren’t aware that saying too much robs another person of acquiring that same enthusiasm. And they absolve themselves from guilt by saying something like, “Well it aired last night at 9PM and it’s already 10AM today so you’ve had lots of time.”

I’m not going to pretend I have more important things to do than watch TV all the time (I don’t) but that doesn’t mean I plan my week around the air time of the latest episode of Fargo. All I’m asking for is a couple of days. Maybe even a week. It’s easier for you to go into a room with a door you can close than it is for me to unhear what you just said about Wallace from The Wire. It is not your responsibility to inform me of what happened on the most recent episode of some show you and I both love, but only you have seen. Spoiling it for me does not make you a bigger fan. Binge watching the second season of Master of None on a day I’m not home does not make you a more serious appreciator of television. It means you had less things to do that week.

If you want me to get excited about some new TV episode, let me watch it without knowing what to expect. Or I will be the one who knocks. (That’s not a spoiler. Just a reference. You have to have watched the show to know what I’m talking about.)

This Budweiser Anti-Drunk-Driving PSA Isn’t An Anti-Drunk-Driving PSA

Budweiser just released their 2016 Super Bowl commercial four days ahead of the actual game, as now seems to be commonplace. The commercial itself, labelled as a drunk driving PSA, stars Helen Mirren telling any would-be drunk drivers that they are, basically, the lowest scum on the earth. The problem is, this isn’t an anti-drunk-driving PSA.

Have a look for yourself.

The commercial starts with Helen Mirren saying, “Ooh, my beer, lovely” after she’s been served with a Budweiser. So the first thing the ad is hitting the viewer with is beer. And not just any beer, but a fresh, sweet, sweet, frosty Budweiser. The King Of Beers, lest you forget.

Mrs. Mirren goes on to make some very frank declarations about how dumb and useless you are if you drink and drive. And I agree with all of them. Drunk driving is a very serious problem that doesn’t get nearly enough attention or have nearly harsh enough consequences.

However, I can’t help but feel that most people watching this ad will agree, too. No one ever comes out in support of drunk driving. So it’s not like Budweiser is doing anything notable here. They’re just doing what they know they have to do every once in a while, as one of the world’s largest beer manufacturers. But I can’t remember watching an “anti-drunk driving” PSA that so actively advertises beer. In fact, this drunk driving PSA makes me thirsty for a beer.

Forget the fact that Helen Mirren gets all matter-of-fact and tells potential drunk drivers that the whole world will thank them for not drinking and driving. That’s the middle bit of the ad. People are going to spend more time thinking, “Hey! It’s Helen Mirren gettin’ sassy” than they will actually listening to what she’s saying. They’ll see the perfectly lit bottle of Budweiser sitting next to a deliciously styled burger and fries. They’ll notice the beautifully staged pub she’s sitting in. And they’ll most certainly remember that this drunk driving PSA starts and ends with Helen Mirren talking about how great cold, fresh beer is.

This is a beer ad camouflaged as a PSA. It’s basically saying, “You shouldn’t drink and drive, but you should definitely drink. Isn’t beer delicious?” The ad features no suggestions for how you might avoid drinking and driving, it just says you’re an idiot if you drink and drive. No shit. How about giving people a reminder to call a cab, or a friend, or take the bus, or even walk home? You might plant that seed in their mind. Instead, this ad just tries to be memorable by having a famous woman with an English accent say some pithy things. All while enjoying a beer. Yes, that definitely makes me want to drive and not drink.

This is a PSA for Budweiser and how awesome it is. The company is down with Helen Mirren. She even drinks it! Maybe even in real life! You should drink it too! That’s why this alleged anti-drunk driving message ends with her holding a Budweiser saying, “Cheers. Ah, nice and cold.”

I don’t know about you, but I could really go for a beer.

Drown your sorrows in puppies

Let’s talk about this year’s Super Bowl (aka Big Game for the unaffiliated) commercial for Budweiser. It’s a lot like last year’s spot. It has a puppy in it.

Not only does it have a puppy, it’s got a real “tug at your heart strings” vibe going on. Much like the commercial from last year. Both ads leave me wondering, just what kind of beer is Budweiser? They call themselves the King of Beers™. But this isn’t a beer ad. It’s an internet video with a puppy in it. Oh, and it has the hash tag #BestBuds. Get it? Like Bud. As in Budweiser. (The beer.)

It already has over two million views. I’m sure the brand and their agency (Anomaly) are thrilled with that number. I’m sure they also knew exactly what they were doing when they decided to make another ad about a puppy. But I have a couple of problems with this ad.

One, it doesn’t tell me anything about the beer. Sure, it’s Budweiser, so you could argue they’ve said it all. Or you could argue that with the increasing rise in popularity of craft beer, maybe they should be bother to tell people why someone might want to drink Budweiser.

My second issue is that this doesn’t even feel on target or on brand for Budweiser. When I think of Bud, I think of an all-American quarter back pounding back a few after a hard day’s footballin’. Or maybe an alcoholic Vietnam War veteran. Or somewhere in between. Regardless, I don’t see any of those types caring too much about the plight of a lost puppy. If anything, I think they would be put off by this ad. It doesn’t have anything to it. No sports. No humour. No America!

Instead, they’re trying to make people teary eyed. I don’t understand beer brands making emotional ads. I drink beer because I don’t want to feel anything. The one thing I take away from this ad is that if I stay home on my farm drinking alone long enough, my alcoholism will get so bad that my only remaining friend will be a dog. If Budweiser wants to connect with me emotionally, they should make an ad about jealousy, bitterness and crippling self-doubt.

This ad is just the worst kind of pandering bullshit that some people believe passes for a brand message. Actually, I’ll agree with that. Because I don’t see how this does anything but say Budweiser is watered-down dog water.

If there’s anything positive to take away, it’s this Go Daddy parody commercial/promotional stunt: