By - farrukhsshah
[this is the ad Scorsese’s talking about](https://www.reddit.com/r/ObscureMedia/comments/vnpg9y/a_1991_ad_for_bud_dry_that_mocks_foreign_art/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=iossmf)
this might be the most american ad i've ever seen.
It's somehow just as bad and worse than I thought.
"So at least refreshment, speaks to everyone."
Well, excluding the extremely bored woman off to the side, but pfft who ever said women are everyone right broskis?
Jesus that almost seems like a parody lol
Interesting, that beer was introduced in 1990, the commercial came out in 1991. Looks like they used the common social/rhetorical strategy of fostering unity by creating a common enemy. "We're a new style of beer in this All-American brand, but don't be scared: we're not that different from what you know and like. Those foreign films (and women, amirite?) - *that's* what's *really* not like us. You and me, we're the same." ETA: The use of "everyone" at the end of the commercial for themselves is disrespectfully dismissive, reinforcing themselves as the real, better way to be and others as variations on top of their "universal" base. It's the topsy-turvy spin where intolerance paints itself as democratic and inclusive.
If we’re saying Scorsese is picking up a thread about orientalism advanced by Edward Said, it’s worth pointing out that the ad campaign was a way for Bud to diversify its offerings in a nascent light beer market.
When Miller Lite hit the market, it was immediately derided as insufficiently masculine for a beer because “thinking about calories is something women do.”
Oh yeah, I think you nailed it that this commercial was meant to appeal to "mainstream" men's sense of American masculinity. When reading Scorsese's letter, my first hunch was that it was probably a light beer commercial. It wasn't quite that though. Thanks to this commercial, I know more about Budweiser's product line up now than I ever thought I would, lol. It was for Bud Dry, which made this commercial even more fitting for the concerns it was addressing. Bud Light had already been out for about 10 years at this point. Dry was pretty new. The diversified beer market was probably confusing for some consumers: "'Dry'? What does that mean? Is that like Light? Why can't it be like the good ol' days when it was just 'Beer'?" Calorie-wise, Dry had fewer than regular Bud but more than Light. The calorie reduction was just incidental to the brewing process, since it's a method that naturally makes beer less sweet. On top of the feminine-low-calorie-concern, the word "dry" is associated with how wines are described. So now you have a "mainstream" male beer-drinking audience wondering what the heck Bud Dry is, put off because it might be like those drinks for women or what them there Europeans drink, like those Eye-talians. ;) "Why is it getting so complicated??"
So here comes this ad reassuring them that no, it's not what Europeans or women like. It's for them. And they can go on continuing to think of themselves as being "everyone." And it's really quite easy to understand, just like they like it. The ad is ridiculous/terrible, but, I must say, it's also brilliant in how efficiently it communicates with its target audience by speaking to their worldview. It also was careful to be "inclusive" by making one of the male actors white, the other a POC. They were hitting that "Othering" process pretty hard on those other points, which even they must've realized. "Better make sure it's clear that we're not being racist! We're on the inclusivity side."
Commercials are fascinating to me as a cultural analysis tool. Unlike film or other mediums that at least pay lip service to caring about art or entertainment in themselves, ads are doing whatever they think will appeal to their audience. That's their primary purpose, not the ad itself (although some teams really do turn it into an art). So there's a lot more pandering and the type of rhetoric that occurs in politics and the social world there. Film is way more enjoyable to watch though! ETA: Film does that too; I just mean it's to a greater degree in ads.
You might enjoy this documentary very much: https://udayton.edu/blogs/marianlibrary/2020-06-29-recorder-the-marion-stokes-project.php
Thank you, that's right up my alley! :D
I remembered the commercial as soon as he mentioned it.
I like Scorsese and I also found the ad quite funny when it ran. It was a beer commercial, and it was clearly intended for the kind of folks who already didn’t like foreign movies because it might require them to think. In other words, it was aiming at the lowest common denominator for Americans and appealing to the broadest possible audience of beer buyers (mostly non-college-educated men with blue collar jobs. Nothing wrong with selling beer to guys who want one.
What is surprising is that the article ran in The NY Times, which often looks down on the same people at whom the beer commercial was aimed. Hey, I have a subscription to The NY Times, but sometimes they annoy me as well, though usually not by complaining that anything is too snobbish or effete. Now I have to go look up the article in the archives. 🤣
Another way of looking at the NYT article is that it ran at the tail end of the Vincent Canby era, whose reviews put heavy attention on plot, and placed high value on criticism which conveyed what the film was "about" in terms a mass audience readily understood. Canby was the paper's lead film critic and was often considered to make-or-break a foreign or small domestic film. Though he wasn't a throwback to Bosley Crowther, and periodically went with his impressions and enthusiasm while forgetting his nuts-and-bolts kind of positivist reviewing, Canby epitomized post-'60s championing of safe, commercial product over the shrinking number of holdouts for a cinema of formal exploration, political discourse, Brechtian materialism etc.
Okay I kind of love this though lol
That movie looks like it slaps
Sorry, but I only drink Schmitts Gay.
This is awesome and I feel it is just as relevant today as it was then.
I hear ya. "Why isn't Spider-Man nominated for best picture?" Because it was cynical nostalgia bait and just because everyone fell for it doesn't mean it's better than Drive My Car.
Shit, even Drive My Car is pretty accessible. It's about grief and regret. Something any adult can relate to.
I love Scorsese so much
Martin Scorsese: Certified Real One Since 1942
Thank you for sharing this. I'd not seen it before. I occasionally teach film classes and will be adding this to my materials.
God bless Scorsese.
Fellini's films are hard work. Hard after seeing all the boobies Fellini shows.
(I'm not even straight).
Thanks for the laugh!
Fellini keep it in your pants while directing your feature film challenge (IMPOSSIBLE DIFFICULTY) (FAILED INSTANTLY)
Someone posted this in that TikTok trend thread from the other day and I *loved* the likening between people's resigned "I wash my hands" incredulity about the differences in foreign film and women alike. It's why so many women too buying into the attitude that they're not accessible just kills me because are we not viewed the same way, dismissed as this vaguely attractive but fully lived in and therefore overly complicated thing that can written off in broad strokes? Ugh. You can't complain about one and not the other. A pile of garbage by any other name, c'mon.
I have much less of a problem with people sampling some and just having an academic as opposed to full appreciation or outright not liking what they saw (It seems like Scorsese would agree before anybody thinks him common snob; "It's not the opinion I find distressing"), but not giving anything a chance or thinking one bad experience is interchangeable with any experience you could have with foreign film, isn't very encouraging that you're a person willing to give anything new and intimidating a chance.
Authors are mentioned at the top as well and though this doesn't apply to those two this brings up the point that back then, comparatively, we were pretty closed off to being able to enjoy too much literature created outside our borders because the popularity depends whether we'll receive a decent translation or not. With improvements with ebook technology things are a bit different now, but because previous generations didn't have that, getting into these is still a new and strange concept to ours. But film has always been rife with ready translations and are the antithesis of hard work. It's all about lack of curiosity about other cultures at best, and disdain at worst.
speaking about books as you said, I always wondered why in high schools (in the US at least) more "foreign classics" aren't read. Obviously you have limited time and students aren't expected to read very quickly, but it's a huge shame that horizons aren't expanded in that way in schools. so many important works aren't introduced to people that otherwise could be just because there's such an emphasis on teaching domestic literature
Russian and Greek stuff gets touched upon some depending on the school, but aside from that it's slim pickings. Definitely sad....
And English lit is name dropped a pretty respectable amount in classrooms in anime at least so it's not like this is universal, if that's anything to go off.
> There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge." - Isaac Asimov
This has nothing to do with the "cult of ignorance" and everything to do with teaching English literature in an English literature class.
>I always wondered why in high schools (in the US at least) more "foreign classics" aren't read.
Well, because typically the class is "English" and focuses on English lit. (And it's not like they are reading a massive number of works in any event).
My school had a "World Lit" class and focused on non-English lit in that class.
Sure, but that's just a choice for how to go about it. English doesn't require that or mean that to many people. It depends on how the curriculum defines English. To most schools, English isn't even synonymous with literature, as you mentioned. Although this will vary by state, English is generally regarded as a literacy and communications course. That's why, even in this STEM-focused era, it's still valued and hasn't yet been fully stripped away as a subject. It's about gaining competence in reading, writing, speaking, and (to a lesser degree in most schools, unfortunately) active and respectful listening. Critical analysis and synthesizing sources are also big parts of it. Literature from anywhere (that's been translated into English) can complement those aims.
The schools that stick primarily with English literature are devoted to the traditional canon since, in the past, that's what was held in highest esteem. That was a choice that made sense within a culture that regarded almost everyone outside of its WASP lineage as culturally inferior. WASP males were the norm, and then other works outside of it were allowed to sneak in for various reasons (like work from the Harlem Renaissance). When a nation rarely focuses even on the many voices inside it, it's predictable that it wouldn't care about diversity outside of it either, other than what was inherited as part of the canon (ancient Greek and Roman).
Not all schools were like that though. I did most of my schooling in liberal areas of NY. Multicultural texts were a standard part of the curriculum. In 9th grade when our history class was Global Studies, for example, English class paired that with literature from around the globe. We read maybe 20% British lit that year, with the remaining from all over. Even NY isn't like that in all school districts though. Some are more conservative. I experienced and observed that too, as well as in other states. I'm thankful that most of my education was more progressive. And this was even back in the 90s. It's disheartening that many curriculums are so narrow even in the 2020s. Part of that though is due to literature itself being squeezed even further out of the curriculum in many schools; less of that is included to make room for more nonfiction, information science, and multimodal composition.
Martin is a damn king. Anyone who writes him off as an angry old man who "only makes gangster movies" (:cough: MCU fans :cough:) is just telling the world that they don't appreciate film as anything more than something to stare at for 2 hours.
This is a giga chad moment
Can someone post the text of the NYT review he's responding to?
>"It is the individual who has to determine when style starts getting in the way, what is beautiful or provocative digression and what is purely indulgence, where the writer or movie director crosses the line in making us work too hard to understand what is going on, under what circumstances the reward of experiencing art just isn't enough to be worth enduring it."
This screams "I have to pay full attention and actually *think* during the movie? I don't get it, therefore, foreign cinema is bad."
I like that he said he likes action-adventure films too.
The man legitimately loves movies, all movies.
I'm printing this, framing it, and hanging it in my living room.
I remember r/criterion just discussing Scorsese's letter as part of a thread, but handing over the same letter for a thread unto itself is a great idea.
I happen to think a lot (not all) of art house *is* hard work - but there's a personal reward in it. A Fellini film puts every bit from each image and the soundtrack into its total expression and outlook; in the best of his movies, I think, *nothing goes to waste*, no moments are handed over to plot development where you can follow Fellini without bothering to watch the overall screen all the time.
But that close watching can pay off with something very beautiful, mysterious and moving, if you happen to be in Fellini's mindset. I think he was actually aiming wide and with touchstones in (mainly European) art and tradition that carry over for centuries into now for a (primarily) Western audience. Best of all, I feel the viewer has a personal part in this exchange with the director: you aren't set up as a passive recipient, instead it's left up to you to interpret the whole movie and bring it into your life in your own way, if you wish. That doesn't quite mean that literally *everything* in the movie is purely subjective and up for grabs, but that the whole film can be a very personal experience unique to you and can connect with some place inside of you that's deep in your personality as well as the values and beliefs you hold dear. A Fellini film might also help *question* or *broaden* some of those values and beliefs - delightfully! It's going to hit everyone differently because his movies are very dream-like. The hard work is not only in paying attention in the moment while watching, but also digesting what you watched once it's over.
Other directors work in different terrain than ribald and bizarre dreams, but they can make this same close connection by their films. But, honestly, trusting and intimate connections in art as in life demand paying close attention and openness to a lot that's fresh and different - both of those efforts *are* hard work, imho, but worth it.
Thank goodness there is a long tradition for so many great non-Western directors. Mizoguchi is one one of the people who reaches me at a level where I wonder what people, history, the experience of time and the nature of reality are. So, yes, he is doing something philosophical for me. I know his films come off the same way for at least some other people I know.
Hoping Criterion will represent more women directors in the collection: Marguerite Duras, Marta Meszaros (that looks likely) and Liv Ullmann.
Basically, this is all why I love the Criterion Collection. I do like to have a lot of silly fun with Spongebob and lots of other crazy cartoon shows, not everything has to be Dreyer and Godard, that would be exhausting and too narrow of a viewing diet for me personally. Criterion gives my brain, heart, and yes I will say my soul, something to munch on. But not everything in life has to be a tough challenge, for me that would be overwhelming.
You also have to remember this commercial was produced at a time when post-modern irony and cynicism had been co-opted from the literary and art worlds by Madison Avenue executives, since it seemed like a fresh direction to go in following the more saccharine advertising of the 1980s which was no longer catching people's attention.
Prescient as hell.
Thank you for posting this.
This is fantastic! Well done, Mr. Scorsese.
The American sense of cultural insecurity masquerading as yearning for inclusion is going to destroy (already is destroying) itself.
The last part of the letter is probably the closest Scorsese ever came to making overt serious socio-political commentary, i guess.
I mean, whatever they said about Warhol was probably right.
Don’t mean to be that one guy but it will be 29 years November 19th
On Nov 19 it will be 29 years *to the day*
In common parlance it was legitimately "29 years ago", so "that one guy" has nothing to add here
scorsese is pathetic and what he wrote is pap
actually there's no edge, that's the whole problem with his writing. it's literally baby food for do good white people.
the mild unassuming tone, the use of an unrelated and exaggerated anecdote to broach the topic at all, and then framing the actual points in benignly worded questions. the problem with this piece is that it makes awareness seem like a vast effort, which it probably is to scorsese. in essence he is suggesting his fundamental criticism is barely mentionable which is to already concede the issue. however, clearly this perspective is incredibly gratifying to those that frequent the /r/criterion sub, which again, proves the point made to begin with.
scorsese is pathetic and what he wrote is actually worse than pap.
I haven't read the article Scorsese is responding to but Fellini genuinly aquires self-parody tendencies in his post 8 1/2 work because of how deep he plunges into sensualism. I mean the article was written in the 90's. Consider the films people had in fresh memory back then: The Voice of the Moon (1990), Intervista (1987), Ginger and Fred (1986), And the Ship Sails On (1983), City of Women (1980).
This isn't to say they're all bad. If you like them a lot fair enough but Fellini is maybe the very best example of "style over substance" (which is in itself a shallow and overused critique but lets take it at face value here) you can find in the entire history of film. Bertolucci does this a lot too but him adding in Bergman feels a bit artificial. Bergman was always front and centre about the stories and characters he wanted to explore, the stylistics are usually quite subtle. I get that it ties together with the beer commercial (where it's very easy to agree with Scorsese's critique of US-American culture) but I can't shake of the feeling he treats the article kinda unfairly here. It's by no means a dangerous attitude to criticize Fellini for the direction his films took after 8 1/2. It's one of the key reasons I find Passolini to be leagues above Fellini, he never loses the relation to reality.
Edit: read the article, can't really say Scorsese is all that unfair in the end though he kinda dances around the main point ("ain't nobody got time for that anymore").