I was expecting my next post to be a beer review, and not another opinion piece on the state of the industry. And trust me, I have a bottle of BrewDog U-Boat Porter in the tube with target range, speed and depth already plotted in. I’m ready to yell “fire tube one” at myself before drinking it any minute now, but first of all I would like to make a short post about today’s Beer Sexism scandal of JW Lees’ Brewery’s “Blame John” campaign.
In summary, the Twitter beerosphere blew up today over the Manchester brewer’s campaign to encourage people (and for “people” read “men”) to stay for one more pint on their Cask Mondays, giving these long-suffering henpecked pauvres a tidy source of excuses with which to defeat their rolling pin-wielding spouses via the “Blame John” service. This early-2000s style relic system will (or would, because it’s not clear if it’s since been nixed) send a text, for your usual network rates, from your “mate” that you can use as evidence when your wife gives you grief for coming home late and stinking of beer.
For a fee you will get a text like- and these are real examples of the Blame John messages- “Cant believe they were filming a movie in the pub and wanted us to be extras! This could be our big break, Hollywood here we come! Great night. John”
“Thnx for meeting me and saving me from that awful blind date, she certainly didn’t look like that on the pictures :/. Cheers John.”
There’s also an insanely far fetched John message about an armed police siege trapping drinkers in the pub. This is the level of intelligence that the writers of these excuses expect from the wives of their drinkers, the belief that not only would Andy Capp’s wife take it as gospel, but that she also wouldn’t question the utter banality and stupidity of texting your mate a summary of what just happened that night, as if he wasn’t even there.
The rampant sexism and condescension behind the Blame John campaign has already been tackled well by my fellow beer writers, and this post was originally basically me going “Yeah! What they said!” because they’ve all made great points that I totally agree with.
But Blame John, even as it was kicked and battered publicly, managed to burst open a nest of bad personal memories.
The Blame John campaign, even if it is just a big joke, is about lying to your spouse, lying to your loved one. It’s a joke based on something truly awful.
There is no feeling like the tightess in your chest as you are presented with a convoluted and practiced lie. There is no torment like the instant internal struggle that erupts in your heart and mind as part of you tries desperately to convince the other part that maybe, maybe they aren’t lying. Maybe they really did get in that improbable jam. Maybe their phone really is almost dead so they can’t answer it but they can still text you back.
There’s nothing like the chill and claustrophobic pressure of utter trapped-rat impotence when you realise that at this point you can’t even call them out on the lie, because then you’re running the risk of looking like the suspicious one, the bad one, and you know that that won’t solve anything, it’ll just pile suffering onto suffering.
There’s no moment like the moment you realise that from now on you’re in the part of your marriage where your spouse lies to you.
None of this is fucking funny. None.
Sexism isn’t something on which a marketing campaign should be built. The same goes for the deception of the one person on whom you should be able to count.
If you lie to someone you care about, if you think it’s a good idea, if you think it’s funny, you have nobody to blame but yourself for the route your life will take and the damage you will do to people.
John has already left.