Militarism, Genderphobia and Beer
By Tali Shapiro at Dec 04, 2009
Israeli commercials have proved to be the height of militarism and insensitivity in the past, today we revisit gay ole’ Israel, and debunk Hasbara, yet again.
McCann Erickson Does it Again! McCann Erickson probably has one of the most amazing records of militarizing civil society. The good people who brought you the Army Strong campaign now bring you a beer commercial. How is beer military? Soldiers aren’t allowed to drink- it’s a punishable offense. In Israel, the majority of the population have been soldiers, and the majority of men and some women are in the reserves until the age of 45 (39 for women). Since you’re going to have civilians in your corps, you have to keep them motivated (translation below the Video):
- Manly Man #1: "Mortar. Beaufort."
- Manly Man #2: "Molotov cocktail. Awara."
- Manly Man #3: "A block, from Ballata. [sounds like block...haha, get it?..]"
- Not so manly Man: "Spiral-heater. Tzrifin. [training base]"
- Anchor: "There are only six friends. So choose who joins your six-pack. Got Maccabi? Got Friends!"
Militarism, Machoism and Exclusionist Mentality in Israeli Society
So what do we have here? A group of stereotypically tough-looking heterosexual men, with a lot of bravado and hair on their arms, engaging in stereotypical Israeli male behavior: Soccer, beer and sunflower seeds (as a man, I’d be offended). A natural progression of this situation would be the ensuing metaphorical dick measuring contest, and those who don’t measure up (the “geeky” looking guy) are kicked out.
This commercial is meant to appeal to the average Israeli man (whatever that may be), but as we know, art imitates life imitates art. The commercial also teaches the Israeli public what they should aspire to. Namely, the first guy, with the most serious hit and the blonde (oh the irony) yet rugged exterior. There is no place for wimps in Israel, where we take pride in the “rise in motivation to serve in combat unites”, and teachers are to be educated by officers (and the lapdogs of democracy salivate):
Sa'ar's forces will deploy in high schools with the objective of instilling into the teachers a sense of duty to spur their students to volunteer for combat units. The 270 officers assigned to the mission will restore the spirit of the 1950s, when soldier-teachers were recruited and came to the aid of the state by helping to socialize the children of new immigrants by teaching them the language and customs of the natives.
Speaking of the kids- it’s a very poor message we’re sending, of intolerance and ostracism.
From Machoism to Genderphobia Israel prides itself on being “Gay friendly”, but the fact is that the word “homo” is commonly used here as a gender slur, which is used to detract from a man’s perceived manliness (it’s also become common as a non-gender slur). Even people who “accept” gays, are ill-informed enough to use such hate speech. "Lesbian" is often synonymous with “masculine”, ”ugly” and “bitch” and all of the above are confused with “feminist”. Bisexual is typically “a hot chic that also likes to make out with girls” (a male bisexual is gay). And transgenders are “confused and psychologically unstable freaks”. If this is the reality we live in, then the next in this series of macho, chauvinist commercials is really no surprise:
Honestly, your honor, it was just a minor genderbender!
From Genderphobia to Misogyny
Obviously, Maccabi Beer and McCann Erickson are sure that women don’t drink beer. I would have left the exclusion of women out of this ad, and written it off as a target-audience oriented commercial, had I not seen this comment on the Youtube channel that featured these ads (limited by my translation):
What about the fourth commercial with the stripper?
There’s a term in military speak, in Israel, it’s called the “company mattress”. That’s what you might call a ”loose woman” that serves in the army. I admit, I hadn’t seen this specific spot, but somehow, I doubt it would have a radical feminist twist at the end. In the world envisioned by McCann Erickson and Maccabi Beer, there’s no place for a woman, unless she’s the company mattress. Frankly, I doubt that the typical Israeli man would agree with the last blatantly misogynist statement. On the other hand, if I call it by its name, I may just get called "lesbian".
McCann Erickson and Maccabi Beer create an Israel in which women who don’t strip for cash, gender benders, queers, people with physical disabilities (the army has fitness clauses for combat service), conscientious objectors, or Palestinians citizens of Israel are not part of acceptable norm. In this Spartan state, people who aren’t scarred for life and proud of it, don’t drink beer.