Yesterday, a friend tweeted a link to this year's Anheuser-Busch Super Bowl ad. His comment made me want to see it. I clicked.
I knew what I wanted . . . no . . . . what I longed for, prayed for. A soul-gripping, tear-inducing visual on par with the troops-in-the-airport saga of 2005.
My soul needed it. The country needed it. We're desperate, in our own ways, for a reminder of who we are.
I click the play arrow. “Born the Hard Way.” Music swells.
Several seconds elapse before I figure out the ad is about immigrants.
Hooray!, I think. Perfect topic. Where’s my hanky?
I settle in to watch . . . and my soaring hopes crash.
The film is a visual wreck and hard to follow (not good when the entire clip is sixty seconds long). Indeed, for most of that first viewing, I was confused: WAS the guy an immigrant? Tom Sawyer? A soldier? What was going on?
And when the punchline arrived sixty seconds later, I groaned.
The guy is Adolphus Busch, who yearns to make beer and slogs his way to America to make it so. In the final scene, he encounters Eberhard Anheuser. The rest is history, etc.
It was only after my third viewing that I noticed the YouTube tagline:
“This is the story of our founder’s ambitious journey to America in pursuit of his dream: to brew the King of Beers.”
Seriously? The ad is both a visual trainwreck and fiction, too?
Yes, Busch was an immigrant, but the rest — Eberhard meets Adolphus, traveling steerage and on foot, staggering, finally, into St. Louis, etc.?
What a wasted opportunity. The ad would have had so much more impact had the immigrant been, well, just a guy. Bare minimum, it would have had more impact if it had been accurate. Factual.
Instead of the three-hanky catharsis I longed for, I got a murky performance of alternative facts.
In short: It's perfectly suited to our Moment of Trump.
Think about it:
On one hand, the nation-of-energetic-heroic-strivers storyline presumably affirms Trump supporters’ vision of the glory that is America” (including, presumably, their own immigrant heritage).
On the other, the “fact” that it’s fake affirms many Americans’ view of a nation held hostage by soulless corporations (and, now, two soulless businessmen). (A view enhanced, presumably, by the fact that ABIB isn't an "American" company.)
You’ll either be fooled or dismayed. Either way, it’s just another dead-end in the Trumpian house of mirrors.
So: Mark the moment that a behemoth global corporation nailed it. Apparently without even trying: According to ABIB, the immigrant theme was a coincidence.
That makes sense: Superbowl ads are months in the making. (On the other hand, this one is so poorly executed that it reads like something Mad Men concoct when they're pacing the office late at night, slugging scotch, hoping for inspiration.)
I wish it had been otherwise. We could use a dose of troops in the airport. A national group hug.
Even farting Clydesdales would have been an improvement. At least we could have laughed as one.