As a Dog Returneth...
Colt 45's Controversial Comeback
Min. Paul Scott
Many African Americans of my generation have fond (or not so fond) memories of getting up on Saturday mornings to watch our favorite Hip Hop video show, only to be scared out our wits by the sight of an angry, giant blue Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull bustin' through our tv sets. Even today, if you ride through any 'hood and yell out the window the familiar '90's ST Ides Malt Liquor jingle, "just hit the corner store, you know what I'm lookin' for..." I guarantee that some wino in the alley is gonna yell back, " ST IDES!!!!" There was even an evil scientist who came up with the diabolical formula to mix malt liquor with gen-sing, call it Phat Boy and pour it into giant bottles with graffiti on the label. However, thanks to the tireless and thankless work of grassroots activists, for a decade, the blatant advertising of cheap, high powered malt liquor to the "Hip Hop generation" virtually, disappeared.
Fast forward to March 2011, as the folks at Pabst Brewing Company are getting amped up to send another generation on a one way trip to Alcoholics Anonymous.
In a few weeks, the company is scheduled to launch its latest monster piece, "Colt 45 Blast," a 12% high octane malt liquor that comes in a variety of fruity flavors that would put the makers of Kool Aid to shame. The marketing scheme that Pabst is using is pretty much the same that the malt meisters of the past have used; grab a rapper with questionable morals and a bunch of video babes and, bingo, a match made in heaven (or some other place.)
Although the brew is not officially scheduled to come out until April 5th, the company has already launched a major marketing campaign staring the Doggfather, himself, Snoop Dogg. Ironically, it was Snoop who was one of the first rappers to appear in liquor commercials almost two decades ago. He has a history of getting people to join him in the game of "get to' up 'till you throw up" . So, to borrow from the scriptures, in 2011," the dog has returned to his vomit."
Unlike the marketing schemes of the early 90's, in the 21st century, liquor companies have gone high tech. Already, there are Colt 45 Blast Youtube, Facebook and Twitter pages set up that will deliver the latest booze news straight to your child's smart phone.
One may ask how, in the wake of the Four Loko controversy, can a company come out with a product that so blatantly, targets underage drinkers. The answer is quite simple.
Quiet as kept, when dealing with black youth issues, many people follow the sage wisdom from "The Godfather," "they're animals anyway, so let them lose their souls." And if you can make a profit in the process, so be it.
By the owners of Pabst own admission, Colt 45 has been known, primarily, a 'hood drink and as long as they keep it ghetto, they do not have to worry about those underage drinking crusader organizations throwing a monkey wrench in their program. Most of these organizations only seem to get MADD (pardon the pun) when alcohol abuse starts affecting middle class white kids at college frat parties.
I can remember on more than one occasion, going to an anti-teen drinking event and loudly proclaiming with a 40 oz bottle raised in a gesture of moral indignation , " In the name of the 'hood, I have come to warn thee of the plague that is about to come upon thy children" only to receive the classic "deer in headlights" look from a crowd who saw nothing wrong with a rapper bragging about malt liquor giving him super sexual prowess but thought some darn talking Budweiser bullfrogs signaled the coming of the Apocalypse.
Only when Bifffy and Buffy, start passing out in the middle of English Lit 101 will it become a problem. Which brings us to the proverbial question "if black kids start falling out in the 'hood do they make a sound?"
I think you know the answer.
What is, also, problematic is the liquor industry's uncanny ability to buy off voices of dissent within the African American community. Any time you start cutting checks to Hip Hop radio stations, Hip Hop magazines and start sponsoring (Black) cultural festivals, you can almost guarantee that your favorite Civil Rights leaders won't say a mumblin' word.
So, where does that leave the community activists who are going to be the ones picking up the pieces when the Colt 45 Tsunami floods the hood with alcohol? What can be done?
Community activists must demand that the neighborhood stores where their children go every morning, before school, to pick up honey buns and orange juice for lunch not stock the product in their establishments. We must also ask our local Hip Hop radio stations not to take the blood money that will have our children dancing down the road of destruction all summer long. Also, black organizations must not accept the 30 pieces of silver to have a malt liquor company sponsor "cultural" events that are supposed to be promoting the health and the well being of the community.
Finally, Hip Hop fans must stand up and tell Snoop Dogg and the legion of other rappers who will come behind him not to be "Pabst Blue Ribbon Pimps" putting poison in the 'hood.
We must not look for politicians nor underage drinking organizations to solve this problem. No one is going to save us but us .
As former malt liquor promoter, Ice Cube, once said in a classic line from a popular gangsta flick.
Either they don't know, don't show or don't care what's goin' on in the 'hood."
Paul Scott is a minister, activist and lecturer based in Durham NC. He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 or firstname.lastname@example.org Website http://www.nowarningshotsfired.com