Monday, September 24, 2012

Stupid Academic Tricks: Beer As A Person


(Via Sullivan)


No, "we" (Americans anyway) do not speak of someone we met on the airplane half an hour ago as a friend. (On rare occasions, someone might say something like "my friend here...", using the phrase ironically. Presumably that's not what they mean.)

No, no one--ever--speaks (much less thinks) of beer as a person. We talk a lot about beer...but we never think of nor talk about it as a person.

It's truly baffling the bullshit that pours out of academia sometimes. It's really super-baffling that linguists studying English would be so bad at English. But, then, they're not really studying English, are they? They're making up quasi-literary speculation about culture, which is what about 75% of the people in the humanities and social sciences are doing these days.

Egad, stuff like this really does need to be laughed out of the academy.

Quoting the story summarizing the "research":

...Dr. Lantolf notes that “friend” has become a very loose term in English; we call someone we met on an airplane half an hour ago a friend. “We speculate,” he writes with Bobrova, “that these commercials, most likely unintentionally, display an aspect of the American concept of friendship as superficial and transitory.” To illustrate, they give the example of a Budweiser commercial currently up on Youtube under the name “Magic Beer.” A young man sits alone at a bar, opening a bottle. He pours it into his glass, but, miraculously, once the glass is full, beer continues to spill forth. Quickly, he pours some of the excess beer into the glasses of the men next to him. In the next shot, the bar is packed with carousers dancing to a live Scottish band as beer continues to gush from the magic bottle. The erstwhile lonely young man dances between his new friends, a beatific look on his face. Then he drops the bottle. It smashes on the floor, and the flow of beer trickles to nothing amid ghastly silence. The outraged people around him glare daggers. Those closest to him turn and walk away.
It seems that not only do Americans see beer as a person, they see beer as a person other people like better than them. In this scenario, beer is the cool friend you bring to the party who makes you popular by association. As soon as your cool friend leaves, no one wants to hang out with you anymore.
Uh, no. See...and I haven't even seen the commercial...the beer is not being represented as a friend. The beer is being represented as a resource. People quit hanging out with the dude in the commercial because he has no more free beer. They leave because he's no longer giving them beer. They do not leave with the beer and go somewhere else. They do not, say, go have a beer with the beer. If people hang around you because you are giving them money, and then you are no longer rich enough to give them money, so they leave...this does not mean they think of money as a friend. It is rather, because they like free money, and don't particularly like you, except as a vehicle to free money. Liking something and viewing it as a friend are not the same thing. I like sunshine, but I don't think of it as a friend. I like Barack Obama, but do not view him as a friend--I've not even met him. I like the internet, but it is not and cannot be a friend of mine.

My God this is idiotic stuff.

You really can pretty much say anything and get published in some disciplines.


Blogger Pete Mack said...

Well most people don't think of beer as a friend. But then there's John Thorogood...

Every morning just before breakfast
I don't want no coffee or tea
Just me and good buddy Wiser
That's all I ever need
'Cause I drink alone, yeah
With nobody else
Yeah, you know when I drink alone
I prefer to be by myself

The other night I laid sleeping
And I woke from a terrible dream
So I caught up my pal Jack Daniel's
And his partner Jimmy Beam
And we drank alone...

12:16 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


A perfectly clear and unequivocal counterexample to my claim...

11:17 AM  

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