Rape jokes: Not a good way to advertise vodka. Also, a non-apology is not a good way to apologize for using a rape joke to advertise vodka.

No thanks, Belvedere vodka. I think I’ll be going with pretty much ANY OTHER BRAND than you the next time I purchase vodka.

After a flurry of complaints online, Belvedere offered this “apology.”

Yeah, pretty sure “sorry if you were offended” does not count as a real apology. Neither does this: Belvedere Vodka, I’m sorry you’re so fucking clueless.



About David Futrelle

I run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon, Time.com, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on March 23, 2012, in creepy, douchebaggery, misogyny, rape jokes, rapey, sexual harassment. Bookmark the permalink. 109 Comments.

  1. Damn, I made it sound like I saw comments toward AntZ that were not giving an inch on misandry. I did not, I skimmed over comments, and that was supposed to be some conditional phrase. If someone is doing that… If.

  2. David, if you have time, can you post another entry quickly? Even one on kittehs like you sometimes do? No pressure, just a request.

  3. What a bunch of arseholes! I hope they go bankrupt.

  4. That collection of disgusting vintage ads did not seem to have this one from Pitney Bowes entitled “Is it always illegal to kill a woman?”

    The image is a painted picture. A man in a brown suit, white shirt and yellow tie with green circles on it is caught in an exasperated expression, elbows in, hands palm-up, fingers of his left hand splayed, fingers of his right hand together. The object of his exasperation, a woman with a green skirt and coat combo with a white shirt, crosses her hands, turns her head up and away from him, and closes her eyes in a stubborn expression.

    The ad copy begins: “For six months I bend the ears of the home office to get a postage meter. I win … Then the only good, fast, dependable, honest-to-Gregg stenographer I got, this redhead Morrissey — balks at a postage meter!

    “I have no mechanical aptitude. Machines mix me up, kind of,” she says. As if we asked her to fly a P-80. I almost blow my top.”

    Long story short, he cajoles her into trying the meter for two weeks with a promise to dispense with it if she doesn’t like it. Then he finds that she’s tied a pink bow around the handle. She says it’s a wonderful machine and she gets the mail out so early that she can get to the ladies’ room before the gossip starts.

    The whole thing looks like it’s from the Fifties or maybe the Sixties. Somehow it doesn’t look like the Seventies to me.

    I see that and I think, goddammit Pitney Bowes, I have to use one of your meters practically every day and now I’m going to be reminded of your crap ad frequently!

  5. Only Antsy could look at something like this and think the most important theme is misandry and that those concerned about the misogyny it represents are bigots.

    Honestly, he cannot be anything but a Poe. This is too dense. Black Hole dense.

    It would be like seeing an ad denigrating the intelligence of african-americans and calling it racist towards white people. And then decrying people complaining about racism against POC as bigots.

    The ad is indeed ugly and atrocious, but one thing it is not is misandrous. Two guys making jokes about raping women to each other aren’t misandrists, they’re a) misogynists and b)being awful. Two white people making jokes about black people to each other aren’t racist against whites, they’re a) racist against blacks b) being awful.

    All of this leaves me with one nagging question: what other world did Antsy find a portal to when he shoved his head up his own arse (leaving his fingers free to type about what he sees, naturally)?

    My money would be on Narnia, but then again I’ve read The Magician’s Nephew, so really there’s no knowing.

  6. Ooh, ads changing over time! I’m in my 50s, and also as a TA in the early 90s was in on the “let’s have students analyze ad and other pop culture elements for their comp classes.” Plus, I’m just sort of interested in analyzing ads and always have been

    I mostly agree with what people say above–the ads were always sexist, but not as overtly rapist, ‘edgy’ (i.e. rape hipsterism), or “dudebro.” But they were also much more racist (to the extent of never showing anybody who wasn’t white) and classist (middle-class) as well as sexist. I think the alcohol ads were always among the worst (although I still remember one hilarious one–Budweiser I think–that had an elegant woman sitting in a chair talking about how, yes, women can drink beer too, and then when her husband calls from offscreen ordering her to get a beer, she yells back at him to get it himself–I found it hilarious–when I could drink I alway preferred beer though it tends to be coded more macho, i.e. girls drink wine or wine coolers–but the protest was so overwhelming they yanked it.. Have to put a plug in for any ad featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales! Lovely animals.

    While I agree that there is ths sub-set of edgy, rapist, hipster/dudebro crap, I would also argue that there are companies (product sellers and marketing) who have done a bit more to get it–there are ads on television (I don’t read any of the magazines) that are pretty nifty and NOT sexist. (Slightly better range of representation on African Americans these days, in the shows I watch). And of course, what ads we see depend on the shows we watch!

    Some examples of ads we actually like: the Geico gecko. Will watch that Gecko any time, and actually went GEICO when we got pissed at our other company. The insurance company (insurance ads are quite nifty these days), not sure which (eSurance?): with the woman tech doing the computer sales and the man doing the in person sales, and their little conflict (we have become fans of the actor who played the woman and love seeing her on other ads). Flo at Progressive (didn’t some MRA dude use Flo as proof women dominate insurance). The cute dorky Nationwide guy who sings the little song with customers (some men, some women).

    Generally, car companies who realize that women buy cars, and don’t have ad campaigns about cars that are mobile penises. (we love the ad, toyota, perhaps, with the guy who goes from the little kid wanting speed to a dad with baby in carrier wanting safety).

    A lot of ads show what I consider to be more average looking people, and a whole range of them as well (I’m thinking of Staples tech guy helping out lots of different people). (As opposed to the stupid ad where the tech support is presented as people that can be bought along with the computer and the obnoxious teenage male picks the sexy girl, shudder). The one where the student carry the tech support person around like backpacks, also kinda weird.

    The two categories of ads that didn’t used to exist which I think should be banned: lawyers advertising, and also ads for medicines.

    We also approve of any ad with cats…………………..*snicker*

  7. and also ads for medicines.

    I’m always irritated when they don’t tell you what the damn chemical is for.

    OFFA MAH LAWN grumble grumble

  8. @Falconer: What we find horrifyingly hiliarous is they give you pretty pics, lots of promises of what the DRUG will do (depressants really iffy here), and then reel off (thank goodness they’re forced to do this by omg gov’t regulation) a whole list of ghastly side effects that people may experience in really fast, low-affect tone, and it’s just……………HOLYCRAP!

    And the ones that say “if you are experiencing this go to your doctor and tell them to give you OUR DRUG”

  9. Hey Falconer! That’s my line! Ya Whippersnapper!

  10. Oh, and as TWO John Hodgeman and PC fans, we loved the Apple commercials with John Hodgeman as PC and um that other guy (whom we loved in Galaxy Quest) as PC, even though we’d never in a million years buy an Apple!

  11. Justin Long? Ithiliana I like your taste in movies Galaxy Quest was awesome!

  12. @Snowy: Thank you! Ditto! GQ is completely totally awesome (and Justin was just one of the awesomeness–we really like him but not most of the film he’s been in).

    I’m giving a virtual lecture for an SF course in Germany about fandom this summer–and chose GQ as the “text” to illustrate what fandom is! (I think it’s all supposed to be public–when it goes up, I’ll drop a link in the forums)

    ALSO: Alan Rickman is HOT!

  13. Oh lawd why did I ever go to Yes But What Does Zataproximetacine DO???!

    There goes lunchtime!

  14. ALSO: Alan Rickman is HOT!

    Snape is supposed to be unpleasant-looking. I think his hair is supposed to be greasy and unkempt.

    But I watch the movies and I say YES Professor Snape do it again CRITICIZE ME HARDER.

  15. @Falconer: Oh, yes Rickman’s Snape is totally hot (and has a large and very enthusiastic following online). But even in the books (and I’m not a huge fan of the books though I like some of what she does very much), I find Snape one of the more fascinating characters………..mmmmmmmmmmmm, Snape!

  16. @Ithiliana: I think it was a pretty bold decision of Rowling’s to have James Potter be absolutely horrid to Snape for Lilly’s benefit.

    Whether it was a good decision to try and show kids that their parents may not necessarily have been little angels, that’s another discussion.

    Although I still wish Snape had washed his hair more often.

  17. I knew Justin Long in college. He’s the sweetest, funniest guy and it’s great to see how well he’s done for himself. Also, yes, “Galaxy Quest” is an awesome movie.

  18. I really do adore Alan Rickman. His voice for Marvin in the Hitchhiker’s movie was so perfectly dead on.

  19. Hangar One vodka: I personally know a number of the employees, and can say with some confidence that they would never engage in rape-y advertising. Also their vodkas are awesome, and the infused ones are totally not made with Dow Essence of Lemon #436.

    Here is the ultimate in man-vertising:


    Screw “bronies,” screw “murses” and “mannies” and “manties” and mantiehose and all the other “TOTALLY NOT FOR CHICKS OR FAGS, MAN!” branding.

  20. The Sociological Images blog has only one article tagged “rape” which I find surprising. There are more tagged “gender-violence” but I’m not sure if there’s a way to search multiple tags (so “advertising” and “gender-violence”) to see what turns up.

  21. Alan Rickman is HOT in anything…he stole the show in Robin Hood as a sexy bad sheriff, he was fabulous as a ghost in Truly Madly Deeply and of course Galaxy Quest…ah Galaxy Quest…i brayed with laughter all the way through that movie

  22. All vodka tastes the same to me – like alcohol. I thought that was the point of vodka, that it had basically no taste and didn’t give you booze breath. I’ll stick to Alberta Pure or Russian Prince, I think. Much cheaper, no rape ads.

    (Seriously, what demographic was Belvedere going for? The 6% of men who will admit to committing date rape?)

  23. hey Kristinmh

    how’s it going?

  24. Guessing they were going for hip and edgy. Too bad. I buy a fuck ton of vodka, and it won’t be theirs. Ever.

  25. @BigMomma: “Cancel Christmas!”. OMG, yes, the Sheriff! I have been a Robin Hood fan my entire life, but that film, I was a total Sheriff fangirl! HOT HOT HOT HOT, and OMG! (Of course it didn’t help that Robin was played by um that totally forgettable actor, and American as well, right?).

    *happy sigh*

    TMD is somewhat frustrating for me because I cannot stand the female protagonist, but yes, Rickman was great.

    *happys igh* We may have to watch GQ sometime this spring for renewed fun and lolz.

  26. I couldn’t stand Prince of Thieves, Costner almost ruined Robin Hood for me!! However, I am always happy to endulge in the wonderful camp that is The Adventures of Robin Hood

  27. Alan Rickman could read the phone book and I’d get turned on. For realz, yo. My favorite movie of his was Dogma.

    Bethany: What’s he like?
    Metatron: God? Lonely. But funny. He’s got a great sense of humor. Take sex for example. There’s nothing funnier than the ridiculous faces you people make mid-coitus.
    Bethany: Sex is a joke in heaven?
    Metatron: The way I understand it, it’s mostly a joke down here, too.

    Snape was always my favorite character too. Although Alan Rickman was much older than Snape, he pulled it off.

    “Turn to page three hundred and ninety fffffour.”

    Ooooo, yes sir!

  28. Kendra, the bionic mommy

    Smirnoff and Skyy are good vodkas that are available at most liquor stores. Don’t buy Aristocrat vodka, though, because it tastes like hairspray. None of them have rape joke ads, either, as far as I know.

  29. Ugh I hate the “Sorry if we offended anyone” apology. It’s a slap in the face, as in “Sorry you’re all getting your panties in a bunch”. So childish.

  30. @ithiliana and @shadow, Costner is a shocker as Robin Hood but i just ignore him and watch Rickman…Carve out his heart with a spoon? whimper.

    as for TMD, yeah Juliet Stevenson is a bit of a wet blanket i agree…but i do bawl my eyes out every time, and i find it touching the way grief is handled.

    we lent our copy of Galaxy Quest to someone and never get it back, the same happened (TWICE!!!) with our collection of Eddie Izzard DVDs…

  31. While I appreciated the performance, the part was so bad, that even Rickman couldn’t really save it for me.

    That film was just so bad, the only character that really worked for me was Tuck. The communist subplot, the stupidity of the crusade opening, the facility of the escape, the utter incomprehensibility of the witch (as a plot device), ugh.

    Ads… I hate medical ads, and have since they started. If I were in the FDA/FCC I’d ban them. It’s funny, when Pharma starts to say they need the money they charge becase, “Research”‘ one discovers they spend more on direct avdertising then research. Ad in marketing to physicians… (I have friends who have been supplied with all, or at least most, of the medicines they can’t afford from physicians samples), and that seems to be a bit of a stretch, if not an outright lie.

  32. @Pecunium,

    i bow to your analysis, i think i last saw the movie at least 15years ago and all i remember really was how sexy Alan Rickman was, and how cute Christian Slater was.

  33. I saw it on opening night, in garb (renaissance) with about thirty friends (all in garb). The best part of the evening was making a fundie who was haranguing the line with threats of hellfire, lose it by quoting scripture at him (I don’t know what he expected from someone able to cite chapter and verse about texts he ought to be reading. He certainly needed those more than I needed to re-read John 3:10).

    After that, the movie was a great let-down, though the bit where we all saw the beer punch line coming and laughed earlier than the rest of the theater was a decent moment.

    Then we all went and had drinks, lots of drinks.

  34. Hi Big Momma! Things are great. Cecil is thriving, starting to sleep 5-6 hour stretches at night, and actually smiling. And the mangina training is proceeding according to plan, of courseđŸ˜‰

    *adds giant blinking SARCASM tag to that last sentence for the benefit of our more literal-minded MRAs*

  35. I didn’t quite get the “joke” until I looked at the slogan and the facial expressions. Honestly, I thought he was giving her the Heimlich maneuver. So, not only was the joke in poor taste, but it wasn’t even set up well. (I must now defend myself by blaming the post op drugs for my obliviousness. Really, it’s the meds.)

  36. @nova
    you’re not the only one, actually, I thought that too at first, but then it hit me.

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