Archive | February, 2012

Wodka

13 Feb

When I first saw this ad for Wodka Vodka via Audacia Ray I was pretty irritated. For those uninterested in clicking over, the ad reads “Escort Quality. Hooker Pricing.” and for some reason has a lamb wearing a sombrero on it. But I took it in stride, reminded myself that I can’t in fact police all of the internet or pop culture for anti-sex worker messaging. Really, that’s not our job as activists either. Because it’s impossible. I was going to Re-tweet Dacia’s post and leave it at that.

But then I saw this retweet from the official Wodka twitter account:

Earlier this year they had another billboard that read “Christmas Quality. Hanukkah Pricing.” After coming under pressure from the ADL and general public for anti-Semitism they quickly took down the ad but the marketing company explained that they didn’t MEAN to be offensive and people just misunderstood the message behind it.

I’m incredibly happy that they responded to the criticism, and proud of everyone who called them on their anti-Semitism. I’m impressed with how quickly it was organized, and how quick the subsequent response was. But I am utterly baffled as to why a company would publicly post “christ, jews r touchy!” right after such public criticism for their offensive language. Aside from being grossly insensitive, it’s just stupid. It would be difficult for Wodka to appear any less apologetic. They’re flimsy reasoning behind the ad was bad enough, but in case there was any doubt of their anti-Semetic sentiments as a company I think they cleared that up nicely for everyone.

It was also motivation to get up in arms. I’m not the first sex worker to complain, and neither was Audacia Ray for that matter. But Wodka clearly doesn’t listen to sex worker voices. They believe that it’s OK to offend sex workers while it’s not ok to offend the Jewish community. The implication that sex workers, like vodka, are consumable products is disturbing. But what is even more disturbing to me is the casual classism, judging the “value” and “quality” of a sex worker based on their socio-economic status. Billboard advertisements rarely use nuanced or thoughtful language, let alone about sex work (with one obvious exception I can think of). But this strongly implies that escorts are people of a better quality than hookers. It plays into the language of selling yourself that is so prevalent and so problematic when discussing sex work. And it suggests that AS PEOPLE escorts have quality, while hookers have low prices. And that is disgusting on many levels to me.

Putting the lamb in a sombrero was both a racist and absurd addition that seems to have even less of a connection to the quality of their product. I can’t decide if they’re inferring that people who drink vodka and party in Mexico or predominantly Mexican areas are more likely to visit prostitutes or if they’re so out of touch that they don’t realize sombreros actually have cultural resonance and are not just party accessories that white people use as a racist joke. Either way it’s unacceptable.

I’m sure Wodka didn’t mean to be offensive. I’m sure they only meant to be irreverent and hilarious. But oppression isn’t funny. Poverty isn’t funny. Racial stereotypes are not funny. They are simply oppressive and racist. Wodka needs to learn that.

Please, reblog, repost, steal these graphics, improve upon them, and bug the shit out of Wodka. We may not have the influence that ADL does (yet!), but we can let them know that this was not only in extremely poor taste, but horribly offensive on a number of levels.

To reach their marketing:

Twitter – @RealWodkaVodka

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/farmerbobwodka

Email: farmerbob@welovewodka.com

-Jessie Nicole

 

Update:

For those who are curious, here’s the entirety of Wodka’s response to the criticisms via their twitter, including a conversation with the poster they retweeted above:

Gross.

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