Belvedere has officially apologized for their rapey ad, and made a donation to RAINN. Which is… fine. But kind of always how these things go, right? Someone fucks up big time, and the fuck-up appears to be an institutional problem and not just one idiot running their mouth off, and then Outrage, and then a Statement that the fuck-up is Not What We Stand For, and then a donation to X organization. Here’s Belvedere’s statement:
I am Jason Lundy, SVP of Global Marketing for Belvedere.
Unfortunately a Facebook &Twitter posting was made today that has offended many of our fans and followers — and indeed the people who work here at Belvedere. The post is absolutely inconsistent with our values and beliefs and in addition to removing the offensive post we are committed to making sure that something like this doesn’t happen again. As an expression of our deep disappointment and regret, we are making a charitable donation to a women’s support cause. We deeply apologize to our fans & followers.
I appreciate that Belvedere is committed to making sure that something like this doesn’t happen again. My question is… how? Donating to RAINN is great, but it doesn’t do much to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. And I’m not usually a big fan of calling for someone’s head, but it does seem to me that whoever created/approved/tweeted/facebooked that ad shows such a profound lack of judgment that perhaps they should not remain employed if Belvedere as an institution actually believes that ads depicting its product as rape-related are a bad idea.
Belvedere’s facebook page also showcases a solid number of people who are defending the product and twisting themselves in circles to argue that maybe the ad doesn’t depict what it actually depicts. And look, it’s an Internet Commandment that People Shall Be Wildly Stupid in Facebook Comments, and it’s unfair to claim that the people defending Belvedere are in any way representative of Belvedere. They’re not. But this is one of many reasons why ads depicting sexual assault are a Bad Idea: Because a lot of people are very stupid, and get accustomed to seeing sexual assault portrayed as a joke, to the point where they can’t even recognize the ad as a rape joke (or just don’t care), or don’t consider it sexual assault to force your girlfriend to give you a blow job. Here are but a few examples (may be triggering).
Ladies, meet Zakary Davis:
and Luke Soltys:
and Matthew Young:
and Rob Weiser:
and Tom Hoffman:
and Janet Trill Andeson Anderson and Jacqueline Patek:
and Jeremy Webb:
and Tom Scusa Cucchi Brennan:
and Vinny Roman:
and Christopher Prouty:
and Kevin Griffin:
and Paul R. Alcatraz
and JoyLynn McIntire:
Depicting sexual assault as a joke in ads is a problem for a lot of reasons, but a big one is that a lot of people don’t seem to know what sexual assault is. Ads like the one from Belvedere normalize rape and assault. They send the impression that it’s socially acceptable to force or coerce a woman to give you oral sex if she “doesn’t go down easy.” And clearly plenty of Belvedere fans hear that message loud and clear — since they’re insisting that the ad didn’t actually portray assault, or that it wasn’t a big deal, or that we’re all just being too sensitive.
That’s why a “this isn’t our culture” statement and a donation to RAINN don’t really cut it — because they don’t do much to actually change the culture at Belevedere that led to this ad in the first place. But beyond terminating the people responsible for creating and disseminating these ads, I’m not sure what does send the appropriate message.