Apparently there is a lot of pop culture cracking down going on under the direction of the Kremlin. And it is not restricted to music as beer ads are coming under the careful if sub-totalitarian eye according to the Moscow News:
TV campaigns like "Tri Medvedi" - which depicts a racy picnic where unseen hands crack open beer bottles and strum guitars while three men banter with two giggling girls whose underwear dangles teasingly from the back of deck chairs - has reportedly raised official eyebrows. Officials felt the commercials, while creative, did not match the spirit of current legislation and are introducing new guidelines to Russia's brewers. The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, which can levy big fines against offending companies, is cracking down on what's acceptable, meaning next month will be the end for "human" beer glasses and off-screen drinkers.
Outrageous? Sign of greater things? In addition to the article noting Russian male life expectancy at just 59 years, last week's Wall Street Journal's report - from which the article above was in large part lifted - makes a few more observations on the alleged social crisis that seems to be driving this. First, beer is isn't classified as an alcoholic beverage so it is not subject to the drinking age of 18. Then, cheap beer is being targeted as it may be the drink of recourse for hundreds of thousands newly laid off by recession. But are these just excuses for some other crack down on personal freedom?
That may go too far. Each of these things are cause of concern if true. And are we North Americans really that different from the great if less free people Russians? Our regulators balk at Santa, Elves and highway exits being associated with beer. Our regulations state that a beer label may not have imagery which is "misleading or imply irresponsible use of the product" and use that to ban the Easter bunnies on Gouden Carolus Easter Beer. Is the underlying political idea behind these bans any better than that found in Putin's Russia?
Future Russian ads are said to more likely with align with one beer which uses "images of heavy industry and a stirring soundtrack while a narrator explains how the "strong men" who built the nation enjoy a strong beer after their labours." Yikes. Well, it could be worse. They could only allow fat men with brylcreem soaked hair advertise beer. At least we don't have to put up with that stuff over here. Just Clydesdales and, here in Canada, the occasional maple tree with a draft tap sticking out of it. Because that is what beer is really about, right?