Many African Americans of my generation have fond (or not so fond) memories
of getting up on Saturday mornings to watch our favorite Hip Hop video show,
only to be scared out our wits by the sight of an angry, giant blue Schlitz
Malt Liquor Bull bustin' through our tv sets. Even today, if you ride through
any 'hood and yell out the window the familiar '90's ST Ides Malt Liquor
jingle, "just hit the corner store, you know what I'm lookin' for..." I
guarantee that some wino in the alley is gonna yell back, " ST IDES!!!!"
There was even an evil scientist who came up with the diabolical formula to
mix malt liquor with gen-sing, call it Phat Boy and pour it into giant
bottles with graffiti on the label. However, thanks to the tireless and
thankless work of grassroots activists, for a decade, the blatant advertising
of cheap, high powered malt liquor to the "Hip Hop generation" virtually,
Fast forward to March 2011, as the folks at Pabst Brewing Company are getting
amped up to send another generation on a one way trip to Alcoholics Anonymous.
In a few weeks, the company is scheduled to launch its latest monster piece,
"Colt 45 Blast," a 12% high octane malt liquor that comes in a variety of
fruity flavors that would put the makers of Kool Aid to shame. The marketing
scheme that Pabst is using is pretty much the same that the malt meisters of
the past have used; grab a rapper with questionable morals and a bunch of
video babes and, bingo, a match made in heaven (or some other place.)
Although the brew is not officially scheduled to come out until April 5th,
the company has already launched a major marketing campaign staring the
Doggfather, himself, Snoop Dogg. Ironically, it was Snoop who was one of the
first rappers to appear in liquor commercials almost two decades ago. He has
a history of getting people to join him in the game of "get to' up 'till
you throw up" . So, to borrow from the scriptures, in 2011," the dog has
returned to his vomit."
Unlike the marketing schemes of the early 90's, in the 21st century, liquor
companies have gone high tech. Already, there are Colt 45 Blast Youtube,
Facebook and Twitter pages set up that will deliver the latest booze news
straight to your child's smart phone.
One may ask how, in the wake of the Four Loko controversy, can a company come
out with a product that so blatantly, targets underage drinkers. The answer
is quite simple.
Quiet as kept, when dealing with black youth issues, many people follow the
sage wisdom from "The Godfather," "they're animals anyway, so let them lose
their souls." And if you can make a profit in the process, so be it.
By the owners of Pabst own admission, Colt 45 has been known, primarily, a
'hood drink and as long as they keep it ghetto, they do not have to worry
about those underage drinking crusader organizations throwing a monkey wrench
in their program. Most of these organizations only seem to get MADD (pardon
the pun) when alcohol abuse starts affecting middle class white kids at
college frat parties.
I can remember on more than one occasion, going to an anti-teen drinking
event and loudly proclaiming with a 40 oz bottle raised in a gesture of moral
indignation , " In the name of the 'hood, I have come to warn thee of the
plague that is about to come upon thy children" only to receive the classic
"deer in headlights" look from a crowd who saw nothing wrong with a rapper
bragging about malt liquor giving him super sexual prowess but thought some
darn talking Budweiser bullfrogs signaled the coming of the Apocalypse.
Only when Bifffy and Buffy, start passing out in the middle of English Lit
101 will it become a problem. Which brings us to the proverbial question "if
black kids start falling out in the 'hood do they make a sound?"
I think you know the answer.
What is, also, problematic is the liquor industry's uncanny ability to buy
off voices of dissent within the African American community. Any time you
start cutting checks to Hip Hop radio stations, Hip Hop magazines and start
sponsoring (Black) cultural festivals, you can almost guarantee that your
favorite Civil Rights leaders won't say a mumblin' word.
So, where does that leave the community activists who are going to be the
ones picking up the pieces when the Colt 45 Tsunami floods the hood with
alcohol? What can be done?
Community activists must demand that the neighborhood stores where their
children go every morning, before school, to pick up honey buns and orange
juice for lunch not stock the product in their establishments. We must also
ask our local Hip Hop radio stations not to take the blood money that will
have our children dancing down the road of destruction all summer long. Also,
black organizations must not accept the 30 pieces of silver to have a malt
liquor company sponsor "cultural" events that are supposed to be promoting
the health and the well being of the community.
Finally, Hip Hop fans must stand up and tell Snoop Dogg and the legion of
other rappers who will come behind him not to be "Pabst Blue Ribbon Pimps"
putting poison in the 'hood.
We must not look for politicians nor underage drinking organizations to solve
this problem. No one is going to save us but us .
As former malt liquor promoter, Ice Cube, once said in a classic line from
a popular gangsta flick.
Either they don't know, don't show or don't care what's goin' on in the
Paul Scott is a minister, activist and lecturer based in Durham NC.
He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (919) 451-8283 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (919) 451-8283 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
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